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 / sxc.hu)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.