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KOTA KINABALU, Jan 19 — Two Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) students have been summoned for a disciplinary hearing next Wednesday following their participation in last November’s Bersih 5 rally.
Nurul Aqilah Mohamad Zainuzi and Mukmin Nantang are accused of violating the university’s regulations including disrupting and endangering public safety, morals, modesty and discipline and may be penalised with suspension or even expulsion.
A letter from the university’s law and integrity department head Awang Suhaizam Bungso accused Nurul Aqilah, a final year Islamic finance student from its Labuan campus, and Mukmin, a third year student in the humanities, art and heritage faculty, to attending the event deemed illegal by the university.
“Your failure to obey a circular distributed on 18 November barring any UMS student from participating in an illegal gathering has threatened your position as a university student,” read the letter.
It also quoted a university law barring students from joining activities deemed immoral and a nuisance to public order and safety whether in or outside the campus.
The punishment for those found guilty range from a warning letter, an RM200 fine, suspension to expulsion.
Nurul Aqilah defended her actions, saying that the nationwide gathering was neither dangerous nor illegal and accused the university of labelling the event as such to justify the circular.
“I humbly ask them to show evidence proving that the Bersih 5 assembly in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu were declared illegal by any court in the country.
“If they cannot, then the circular becomes irrelevant, and so does this charge against us,” she said in a statement today.
“I’m certain they will bring up the Inspector General of Police’s declaration that Bersih 5 did not abide by the guidelines under the Peaceful Assembly Act in their charge against me, but I’m happy to note that the Inspector General of Police is not a judge who can determine judgment and punishment,” she added.
She also questioned the university for holding the disciplinary hearing during a semester break, alleging that it was to hide its “unreasonable actions” from “public knowledge”.
Nurul Aqilah, who made a speech during the gathering and Mukmin, who read out a poem, said that they were ready to face consequences of their actions as faced by other peers.
“If I get suspended, I will use the break from school to do a roadshow with other student
activists in university campuses across Sabah to make them aware of their rights,” she said.
“It’s so sad to see our university not defend our rights to voice our opinions and have peaceful assemblies. But we will work to ensure that the authorities’ use of the culture of fear will fail,” she added.