Friday, May 28, 2010

An Open Letter to Naib Canselor UKM

Prof. Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin
Naib Canselor UKM,
Pejabat Naib Canselor,
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia,
43600 UKM Bangi, Selangor.

Dear Dr Sharifah Hapsah,


I urge you to kindly refrain from taking disciplinary action against UKM political science students Muhammad Hilman Idham, Muhammad Ismail Aminuddin, Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha and Woon King Chai, who were arrested during the recently concluded Hulu Selangor by-election.

While your action may be in keeping with the University and University Colleges Act - an archaic instrument designed specifically to prevent students from playing an active role in politics - and will no doubt gratify the government of the day, it will most certainly be viewed as yet another manifestation of injustice and crude oppression.

This can only sully the public image of UKM as a benighted institution of higher learning caught in a time warp.

Ukrainian students protest the dehumanizing effects of the education system
Any sane and rational person will agree that universities serve as nurseries of independent, creative thinkers with a strong commitment to helping society at large. However, when a university succumbs to political pressure and takes on an inquisitorial role, it effectively becomes a tool of intellectual and moral stultification - and thereby fails utterly to serve the public interest.

We live in a time of massive changes. The analogue world is fast turning digital. Institutions that allow themselves to be misused to maintain a corrupt political status quo will lose all credibility.

The day-to-day decisions we make in life are what, ultimately, determine the worth of our brief existence as human beings on this earth. Surely you would not enjoy spending the rest of your days wishing you could turn back the clock and regain enough intellectual and moral integrity to defend your students' right to involve themselves in the larger world beyond the campus?

Going by the news reports I have read, the four UKM students facing disciplinary action have done nothing a rational person would consider "wrong." As students of political science, their interest in observing a by-election ought to be commended instead of punished.

25 May 2010

South African human rights movement against state oppression