The suspension and recent gag order by Unuversiti Malaya’s higher administration is seen as a deterrence to the university as an academic institution and more so on academic freedom of speech

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) urged Universiti Malaya (UM) to retract its decision to suspend activities of two societies, the Chinese Language Society (PBCUM) and the Muslim Students Association (PMIUM) 2017/2018 semester, under its wing.

DAPSY chief Wong Kah Woh said, UM’s move to interfere with the management and administration of varsity students by limiting their right to freedom of speech and to hold a gathering has weakened the university as an institution.

“They should respect the autonomy of the students on campus. This also lessens UM’s credibility as a university that is supposedly one of the best in the country,” he said told reporters at an event today.

Wong said universities should uphold transparency and respect freedom of speech of varsity students.

He said with UM’s recent gag order to forbid its campus residents from making any public statement further dampens the respect for academic freedom.

“Take United Kingdom for example. University management has never interfered with their students’ activities and even more so giving these societies full autonomy in handling their own financials and administration. They also have a seat in Senate which is a platform for them to debate on varsity policies,” he said.

Together with endorsements by 35 DAP MPs, DAPSY today handed a memorandum to UM as to show support for the two suspended associations.

“Our Raub MP could not endorse this today due to poor health condition. But the very least, we would like the suspension to be shortened,” he said.

DAPSY in a statement on Monday, stated its solidarity for UM Chinese Language Society (PBCUM) and UM Muslim Students Association (PMIUM) against the suspension.

This is following reports of alleged irregularities in the societies’ administration.

As a result, the varsity Student Affairs Department (HEP) had suspended PBCUM and PMIUM activities since Oct 30 and Nov 17, respectively.

It was reported, Universiti Malaya late last month had issued a gag order on its staff and students, forbidding them not to speak ill of the university or government to the public or media.

This includes comments to the media, ordinary public or during lectures, broadcasts, publications (and) social media.

HEP itself should be abolished

Meanwhile, youth movement Demi Malaysia said the HEP itself should be abolished as it is nothing but a student police.

Its spokesperson, Adam Adli said, HEP was created to control students right after the Students Union was banned and abolished from public universities.

“This is the state of our problem in universities. Students used to manage themselves, then along came AUKU (Universities and University Colleges Act 1971). Students Union was replaced with MPP / SRC to give an illusion that students have some kind of influence and function but of course, they are not – everything is up to the HEP at the end,” he said when contacted by Berita Daily.

Adam further stated his support for DAPSY’s effort and reminded UM higher administration to have responsibility and accountability for any uncalled decisions made.

He also questioned the university’s real intentions to suspend both its societies.

“This is a continuation of harassment against student’s affair and rights of association. And I truly wonder; what kind of threat the two societies brought to the institution of UM?

“Whenever they (UM) make such an uncalled for a decision like this, they better have a solid and valid reason or excuse and be prepared to answer to the people – be it the UM’s residents or the public,” he said.

Anti-sedition and clean-elections youth activist, Adrian Lim Chee En said, UM’s call mirrored further the government actions to “cover” their failures before the upcoming 14th general elections (GE14).

“Because of the government’s failure to resolve crisis after crisis that has ploughed the country, voices that are “not in line” with the government’s aspirations are silenced,” Lim told Berita Daily.

Where there is an opportunity, the government will try and influence to ensure the script and narrative are in favour of the administration where they failed to influence, they silence, added Lim.