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Students penalised for protesting ISA

PETALING JAYA, 23 June 2009: Only one of the seven students suspended by their universities in 2001 for allegedly participating in an unlawful demonstration managed to complete his university education.

National Mosque (Public domain)
The seven, who were all from public universities, were arrested by the police during an anti-Internal Security Act rally on 8 June 2001 in front of the National Mosque.

After they were charged under the Police Act for illegal assembly, they were suspended in August 2001 by their respective universities under the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) and the Educational Institutions (Discipline) Act. Both Acts provide for the immediate suspension of any local university student who has been charged with a crime.

Subsequently, only Zulkefle Idris, 29, from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), was allowed to receive his diploma certificate after he was acquitted by the Kuala Lumpur Magistrates Court in 2005.

“He had already completed his studies when he was arrested; he was just waiting for the convocation,” Rafzan Ramli, who was arrested together with Zulkefle in 2001, told The Nut Graph.

“The rest of us never received our degrees,” said the 32-year-old, adding that he was a second-year electrical engineering student in Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) when he was suspended.

Rafzan said he was able to find work as a technician with his diploma, but the others were less fortunate.

“Some of them could only use their SPM qualification to apply for jobs,” said Rafzan, adding that their futures have definitely been affected.

Rafzan, together with four other students — Zulkefle, Nik Norhafizi Nik Ibrahim, Ahmad Kamal Abdul Hamid, and Khairul Amal Mahmud — were each fined RM3,900 by the Kuala Lumpur Magistrates Court on 18 June 2009 for taking part in an unlawful assembly.

Nik Norhafizi, 29, and Ahmad Kamal, 28, were from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), while Khairul, 28, was from Universiti Malaya (UM).

The Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court acquitted the seven students on 22 April 2005 on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to prove that the rally on 8 June 2001 was an unlawful assembly, and that the students had organised and participated in it.

However, the students were ordered back to court on 9 Nov 2006 after the Kuala Lumpur High Court accepted the prosecution’s appeal.

(Pic by Mary Gober /
Rafzan said those convicted, except for Zulkefle, were expected to be expelled soon by their respective universities under the UUCA.

Another student, Helman Sanuddin, 32, from UiTM, was acquitted on 18 June 2009 after the court ruled that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against him.

On 13 March 2007, the court also discharged Wan Mohd Sanusi Wan Mohd Noor from UM without acquitting him. The police could not locate Wan Mohd Sanusi then to serve him the notice to appear in court.

“I wrote a letter to UiTM in 2005 after the [magistrate’s] court acquitted us, but they didn’t respond,” said Rafzan, adding that he could not pursue the matter after he was ordered back to court.

Helman, who was acquitted yesterday, said he also wrote a letter to UiTM in 2005, but the university replied and said he had been expelled for being absent from the university for more than 10 semesters.

“They are the ones who suspended me and prevented me from going to classes; how can they expel me for being absent from the university?” Helman told The Nut Graph.

He added that he had filed a suit against UiTM in 2005. “The hearing started last month and the High Court will announce its decision on 7 July,” said Helman, adding that he was confident he could win the case.

Helman, who runs his own business now, said he was a final-year student and only had one more semester to go when he was arrested in 2001.

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6 Responses to “Students penalised for protesting ISA”

  1. Nadia says:

    This is sad and unjust but I think one should be a little more careful selecting one’s causes until something is done with the Auku. Is it worth the fight when you lose everything? For students like me who can’t afford to study in fancy universities overseas and rely on the government’s help, the best thing to do is be patient. When you have your degree in your hands then you can go ahead and do whatever. That’s what I think.

  2. Nicholas Aw says:

    I find it ridiculous that being convicted for an illegal assembly prevents students from graduating. Something must be done about this absurd UUCA ruling. Yes, by all means take action against those responsible but not to the extent of depriving them of their future.

    Even if one were convicted and had served one’s time, one would be able to pursue a degree for the betterment of oneself in particular and the community and society at large.

    These “magnificent seven” were punished for protesting against the ISA. Obviously, the government wanted to make them as an example to the rest that it doesn’t pay to protest. So what do we get out of this? Students who are afraid to voice out, students who cannot offer opinions. They become “robotic” students and totally subservient to the authorities. They are “Yes Men” in every way. This is what the government wishes to achieve: non-thinking graduates. The people should voice out so that the parliamentarians would move a motion to amend this absurd UUCA.

  3. Andrew I says:

    We want them clever, but not that clever.

    We now have six more potential Zaids and Anwars.

  4. Thomas Lee says:

    It is certainly unjust to deprive these students the chance to complete their tertiary studies. Peaceful demonstrations are part and parcel of an individual’s fundamental human right to express visibly and vocally his or her opinion on an issue he or she is passionate about. It shouldn’t even be considered a criminal affair, but a civil action of an individual.

    Our tertiary students should be given the right to speak out and stand up for what they believe in. This is part of the education process, and the way to be independent, mature and responsible.

    Sometimes I wonder whether those so-called professors at our local universities with such types of shallow mentality are really intelligent, let alone intellectual, when they just follow what the government tells them to do, without using their own mind to determine and decide what is good or bad. They certainly lack creative, critical and constructive thinking as they do not allow their students to challenge and question their teaching. Many can pass exams and get degrees without really thinking, but just by sheer hard work remembering and repeating what they are taught. Hence, we see during the last 20 years of education in our country producing a generation of parrots, robots or even zombies, graduates with paper qualifications but no substance and no content intellectually.

    If our students are not allowed the intellectual space to be original, creative, critical and constructive in their thinking, then what are being produced in our tertiary institutions are simply idiots with some fancy degrees.

  5. support says:

    i suggest commentators here start a campaign to raise fund for these “soon to be expelled” students to find a way to finish their studies in private university overseas, rather than complaining about someone else/govt being unjust, being ridiculous and so on.

  6. Azizi Khan says:

    Who decideds if its a lawful assembly or not ? BN of course …

    Who heads the respective universities and colleges? Minions from BN.

    Why was the UUCA enforced? After the Reformasi movement against BN. BN didn’t want the political situation of Indonesia and India where students protested in the streets.

    BN also knew that “opposition parties” were successfully “infiltrating” local universities. For example when I was at UPM, while the university governing bodies were BN, PAS had many of its lecturers in its pockets.

    Quality of local university education? Well, BN made sure that local graduates can’t even cook mee goreng. Besides they always had their diploma mill ITM to churn out BN-specific graduates and syariah lawyers …

    We are doomed aren’t we ?


    (Please note I am using BN instead of “government”. The BN party is in control of the government mechanism. Malaysia is the only country where the political party and the word “government” are used interchangeably.)

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