After demands ignored, UM students ‘occupy’ administration building (VIDEO)

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 — After five days of “occupying” Universiti Malaya (UM) in front of its main gate here, a group of some 50 students moved their campsite today to the front of the Student Affairs Office in campus, demanding that the charges against eight of their fellow student leaders are dropped.

The students had earlier in the morning marched from their original campsite to the administration building called Perdana Siswa, and vowed to continue their protest until the university’s vice-chancellor of student affairs, Datuk Dr Rohana Yusof, personally accepted their memorandum.

The group said it decided to move closer to Perdana Siswa after their demands were previously ignored even after five days of their first “occupy” campaign.

“I was suspended just for using a loudspeaker. What kind of stupid law was that?” asked Safwan Shamsuddin, the chairman of ruling student faction Pro-Mahasiswa.

Safwan was one of the eight UM students charged with violating university regulations for organising a talk with Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, now dubbed the “UM8”.

Last week, a UM inquiry panel decided to suspend students Safwan and Fahmi Zainol over the unauthorised talk featuring Anwar on October 27, a day before the Permatang Pauh MP’s high-profile Sodomy II appeal at the Federal Court.

The suspension order comes just weeks before the youths’ final examination.

Fahmi, who is the president of the UM student council and the main driver of the Anwar talk, was suspended for two months while Shamsuddin, who chairs the Pro-Mahasiswa group, was suspended for one month, in addition to fines of RM600 and RM300 respectively.

Out of the eight students slapped with charges over their involvement in the “40 Years: From University of Malaya to Jail” talk featuring Anwar, only one, Abraham Au, escaped punishment.

Apart from Fahmi and Safwan, four were fined RM150 each, namely PMUM vice-president Haw Yu Hong, secretary-general Nur Syamimi Munirah, Adam Fistival Wilfrid and Khairul Anwar.

“We’re committed. We want them to drop the charges on the eight, not the punishments. They should drop the charges as we’re not guilty,” said Khairol Najib Hashim, who was slapped with a “strong caution” but was not fined.

The group planned to stage the peaceful sit-in protest today until 5pm, and vowed a “more radical” action if Rohana still refuses to accept its memorandum.

Universiti Malaya students attending the march in solidarity with UM8 students to submit a memorandum to Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student affairs), December 15, 2014. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Universiti Malaya students attending the march in solidarity with UM8 students to submit a memorandum to Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student affairs), December 15, 2014. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa