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Student Power lecture repeatedly banned on campus

Fahmi (Courtesy of Fahmi Reza)

Fahmi (Courtesy of Fahmi Reza)

PETALING JAYA, 13 Aug 2010: Artist, filmmaker and historian Fahmi Reza has consistently been barred from presenting his Student Power lecture at Universiti Malaya (UM) since October 2009.

All three attempts of Fahmi’s attempts to present his historical findings in UM about the student movement have been thwarted by the university administration.

Fahmi was first scheduled to give his Student Power lecture at the UM Cultural Centre‘s dance department on 29 and 30 Oct 2009, then in the Law Faculty on 17 March 2010, and most recently in the Arts and Social Science Faculty on 24 Aug 2010. All three lectures were cancelled.

“I anticipated some problems [getting access to UM] because the history of student movement in the 1960s is a political history of the students’ struggle, and the HEP (Badan Hal Ehwal Pelajar) in UM is known to be strict,” Fahmi told The Nut Graph in a phone interview.

He said his lecture at the Cultural Centre was all set up, but it was cancelled at the last minute.

“They found out who I was and what I going to present. They didn’t want any trouble from the HEP,” he said.

Subsequently, Fahmi tried to get permission from vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Ghauth Jasmon directly.

“A UM graduate helped me to contact his office and we exchanged a few emails with him regarding my request. Verbally he was quite supportive so we made an appointment to meet him.”

Ghauth

Ghauth

However, when they went to the vice-chancellor’s office, they weren’t able to meet Ghauth personally, but were directed to meet someone else from the administration instead.

“The guy [from the administration] asked us to send in a proposal, and a detailed script of my lecture. I told him I wanted to invite some of the former student activists to share their experience, too. So, he also wanted to know who these people were and what they were going to say,” Fahmi said.

Fahmi submitted a detailed outline of his presentation and profiles of former student activists Dr Khong Kim Hoong and Syed Hamid Ali, but the administration officer never replied.

“When we called them up, they said he had been transferred to another department,” Fahmi said.

Students take the lead

After two failed attempts, Fahmi’s Plan C was to let the students initiate the lecture as faculty students are allowed to organise any internal event as long as they obtain the dean’s permission.

“I contacted some UM laws students. They said they were interested [in organising the lecture], and their deputy dean said okay, too,” Fahmi said.

'Student Power' lecture poster (Courtesy of Fahmi Reza)

'Student Power' lecture poster (Courtesy of Fahmi Reza)

However, the deputy dean made a last-minute about-turn because she was worried that the HEP might interfere. The students were advised to cancel the lecture.

“Luckily I had a back-up plan because I’d already publicised the event. I did it at PJ Live Arts (PJLA), which is close to the UM campus, for two nights instead,” said Fahmi.

He added that only 70 students or so attended his lecture as many did not have transportation.

Fahmi said with the Arts and Social Science Faculty, the dean had initially and verbally agreed to the students’ request before changing his mind on 12 Aug 2010.

Attempts to reach the dean, Prof Dr Mohammad Redzuan Othman, for his comments have proved futile. To an e-mail query, Ghauth said he would investigate the matter before he could comment.

Apart from having difficulties gaining access to UM, Fahmi’s lecture was also recently banned in Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Alam. One of the UiTM students who initiated the lecture was questioned by his deputy dean.

Despite that, the students pooled together RM100 and rented a hall at Kompleks Belia dan Kebudayaan Negeri Selangor. The event was postponed from 5pm to 6:30pm and 30 students attended the lecture.

“Colonised by university administrators”

“In the 1960s, our university students were free, autonomous and independent. Now they are oppressed and colonised by the university administration.

“Our mahasiswa are now treated like kids. The university administration continuously controls what type of politics or history the students are allowed to be exposed to,” Fahmi said.

After the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) was enacted in 1971, HEPs were set up in institutions of higher learning to replace the role of students’ unions, which used to take care of students affairs, Fahmi said.

Thereafter, the students were no longer free to organise their own activities on campus, he noted. Furthermore, he said, they were made to be financially dependent on the HEP as the UUCA forbids them from collecting money.

“The students were mature enough to manage their own affairs well in the 1960s. They ran their own canteen, students’ council elections and newspapers; bought their own buses to transport students around campus … and could organise political activities on campus. The university administration rarely interfered.

“Instead of going forward, we’re now moving backward,” Fahmi said.

However, Fahmi remains determined to present his Student Power lecture in UM because it was the place the student movement was born.

Apart from PJLA, he has already presented his lecture at the Dewan Negara, the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, and Instant Café’s House of Art and Ideas.

Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen today urged university administrations to allow the Student Power lecture to be presented in universities. The group demanded that universities be more open-minded and democratic in their decision-making process.

Related post: “Mahasiswa jurubicara rakyat”

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15 Responses to “Student Power lecture repeatedly banned on campus”

  1. walski69 says:

    Fahmi – if UM won’t let you, then it’s time to webcast it, and have it publicized via FB & other social media avenues. Since they won’t let Fahmi go to the mountain, then it’s time to use technology to bring the mountain to Fahmi…

    • Fahmi Reza says:

      Walski, memang ada perancangan untuk jadikan ‘Student Power’ ni sebuah filem dokumentari di masa depan. Buat masa ni aku masih belum putus asa untuk terus berusaha untuk beri lecture ni dalam UM dan juga kampus2 universiti lain di seluruh Malaysia.

  2. iesnek says:

    Now this would be educational. And yet they’ve banned it.

    They’re seriously coddling students way too much.

  3. frags says:

    Depressing to read this. So students don’t have the freedom to think for themselves. All the thinking is done for them and spoon fed to them. And people wonder why Malaysia lacks innovation and creative talents.

    • syed hamid ali says:

      Dr Tan Chee Khoon used to repeat this point: If you have second class lecturers, you get third class students.

      That was way back in the 60s!

  4. amir says:

    UM is, of course, the same university that published a book about its “100 years” with no mention at all of the student protests.

  5. Malaysian says:

    It is sad to think that our older generation of student bodies were more progressive thinkers, well-read and proponents of change while most youths today do not even read the papers or bother about the political state of the country that INVOLVES them.

    And this isn’t just the fault of the parents. It is the educational environment the students are bred in. There is a lack of freedom to express their thoughts and thus, the lack of encouragement for students to think.

    The authorities can come up with as many slogans and speeches they can about “developing Malaysia” and being on par with top universities. But they are just words.

    We need more people like Fahmi to help re-educate the students.

  6. Ruzaini says:

    Fahmi, I suggest you conduct the lecture at Annexe Gallery. I would definitely support this lecture.

  7. itzerspitzers says:

    They do the same [during the] Friday sermon. You’re not allowed to give talks based on your knowledge but by what the government (inc. Jawi) wants to feed you. It makes the sermon rather boring because it lacks emotional expression from the speaker. If they want to read it out from [a] text, I think I can conduct the Friday prayer also.

  8. Fahmi Reza says:

    Hari ni aku berjaya hubungi Dekan Fakulti Sastera, Prof. Redzuan untuk dengar penjelasan dari dia. Menurutnya, dia tak mengaku pernah bagi kelulusan kepada kertas kerja yang dihantar oleh students Persatuan Sejarah UM (penganjur program lecture Student Power) dan tak pernah bagi kebenaran lecture Student Power dibuat di Fak. Sastera UM pada 24.08.10. Usaha aku untuk dapatkan kerjasama dia untuk tolong anjurkan lecture aku tak berjaya. Alasannya dia sibuk dengan program2 lain hingga akhir tahun.

    Katanya lagi: “Kelulusan program sebegini bukan dalam bidang kuasa saya. Bidang kuasa saya sebagai Dekan ialah menguruskan dewan untuk acara program. Hal sebegini sebenarnya dalam bidang kuasa HEP. Walaupun saya luluskan anjuran program ini, HEP ada kuasa untuk veto keputusan saya.”

    Menurut students Persatuan Sejarah UM, kertas kerja sudah dihantar kepada Dekan beberapa minggu lalu, dan persetujuan telah diberi oleh Dekan secara lisan pada 11 Ogos, tetapi kertas kerja mereka telah ditolak pada 12 Ogos setelah Dekan mendapat tahu berita pengharaman lecture Student Power di UiTM.

  9. Ruzaini says:

    Fahmi, penolakan oleh pihak pentadbiran universiti menjadi satu sebab yang sangat kuat untuk kau kendalikan syarahan ini di tempat yang senang dikunjungi oleh para pendengar yang ingin mendengar syarahan alternatif kau. Nyata sekali kita tidak dapat mengharapkan ehsan daripada pihak universiti ini.

    Sebab itu aku rasa sangat sesuai untuk kau kendalikan syarahan ini di Galeri Annexe. Dan aku sebenarnya sangat berharap kau boleh kendalikan syarahan ini di Galeri Annexe kerana aku rasakan karya kau ini adalah sesuatu yang sangat penting untuk dikenang, kalau bukan untuk dianalisa secara intelektual.

    Aku masih lagi bergelar pelajar di salah sebuah universiti awam di Shah Alam. Kerana itulah aku mahu merebut peluang ini untuk mendengar syarahan kau sementara aku masih ada peluang.

    • Fahmi Reza says:

      Ruzaini, sebab utama aku nak sangat lecture ‘Student Power’ ni dibuat dalam universiti sebab setiap kali aku buat event kat luar kampus tak ramai mahasiswa universiti yang datang.

      Tahun 2007 aku tayang dokumentari ’10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka’ kat Central Market Annexe, tak ramai mahasiswa yang datang. Tahun 2008 seminggu aku tayang dokumentari ‘Revolusi 48′ dan anjurkan ‘Emergency Festival’ 11 hari kat CM Annexe, tak ramai mahasiswa yang datang. Bulan lepas aku anjurkan ‘AUKU Public Lecture Series’ (4 lectures) kat KL & Selangor Assembly Hall, tak ramai mahasiswa yang datang.

      Bulan Mac lalu aku buat lecture ‘Student Power’ ni 2 hari kat PJ Live Arts, Jaya One (1km dari kampus UM), tak banyak mahasiswa yang datang…

      Jadi aku mulai sedar, kalau nak reach mahasiswa perlu ubah strategi. Tak boleh sekadar mintak dia datang pada kamu, tapi kamu perlu pergi kepada dia. Dan untuk lecture ‘Student Power’ ni memang target audience utama aku adalah mahasiswa, bukan general public. Oleh sebab itu, lebih masuk akal untuk aku buat lecture ni dalam kampus dan bukan kat luar kampus.

      • Ruzaini says:

        Aku faham sasaran pendengar kau. Dan aku juga mungkin bersetuju dengan strategi kau. Cuma aku agak sangsi akan keberkesanan strategi ini kerana nyata sekali dalam percubaan kau untuk menembusi tembok kampus universiti yang terlibat, pihak pengurusan bersungguh-sungguh menghalang usaha kau.

        Justeru, aku cadangkan jika kau tak berjaya menempah tempat di mana-mana kampus untuk syarahan ini, aku cadangkan kau iklankan syarahan ini di kawasan kampus beberapa lama sebelum kau anjurkan syarahan dan adakan syarahan tersebut di tempat yang terdekat dengan kampus. Aku percaya kau punya strategi yang lebih bernas berbanding cadangan aku ini, namun aku hanya berharap agar aku masih berpeluang untuk menghadiri syarahan kau ini.

  10. Rejected says:

    Fahmi, I’m in UM and I seriously have never heard of any news about you, coming. I would suggest you publicize it more.
    Anyway, knowing HEP, it won’t work and internet is always a better medium.

    Get it on youtube, facebook, blogs, and etc.
    It will be there forever, circulating among scholars!

  11. imie says:

    Perhaps Dr Ghauth can help you because he has always helped students in MMU. I’ve never hear of Student Power before; maybe you can come to MMU to do this lecture.


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