Campus elections – Mustapha should announce “hands-off” policy and scrap secret mission of VCs/DVCs

On Monday, the Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapha Mohamed said each public university will decide on the suitable rules and requirements for the upcoming student elections.

He said: “We are open to ideas and suggestions but there are all kinds of proposals so the universities themselves should be the ones looking into them.”

I call on Mustapha to take the first bold step to give meaning and substance to the National Higher Education Action Plan 2007-2010 to start the long journey to make Malaysia a world leader in higher education by sending a clear message to all Vice Chancellors to hold free and fair campus elections in public universities and to respect and accept the election results.

Mustapha should publicly declare that as Higher Education Minister, he would not be partisan and would not take sides with any candidate or group of candidates contesting in the campus polls, and that he would fully accept the verdict of the campus elections regardless of who wins or loses, so long as the campus elections are held in a free and fair manner.

He should announce a “hands-off” policy to ensure a vibrant, critical and creative student campus and scrap the secret agenda of Vice Chancellors and deputies to ensure victory of the compliant “pro-establishment” student groups.

In this manner, university students would be given a good grounding and experience in the holding of an honest, free and fair elections and not be exposed instead in their first voting experience to all the shenanigans, manipulation and abuses of of rigged polls.

One important reason why Malaysian public universities had been on a downward plunge as centres of academic excellence is because it has been drummed into the Vice Chancellors and their deputies that it is more important for their career future that they deliver campus elections to pro-establishment student groups rather than ensuring that the universities achieve international recognition as world-class universities as receiving top rankings in world tables, such as the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University annual listing of top world universities.

This is why it is so shocking to read the statement by the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) vice chancellor Nik Mustapha R. Abdullah justifying the Mat Rempit arrogance and highhandedness of the UPM campus security in seizing the laptop, mobile phone, MP3 player and 10 other items valued at RM6,000 from first-year UPM timber technology student Yee Yang Yang during a spot check of his hostel room on Friday night and questioning him about his involvement in student politics.

Recently, there had been a lot of talk by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Mustapha of the critical importance of higher education if the nation is to face up to the challenges of globalization and the national policy to benchmark Malaysian universities to international standards and the world’s top universities.

But the message about the urgent need for a new higher education commitment which emphasizes quality, competitiveness, creativity and innovativeness seems to have escaped the ken of Vice Chancellors and their deputies in the public universities in the country.

Otherwise, a vice chancellor of one of the four research universities like the UPM would not have issued a statement like the one put out by Nik Mustapha yesterday, which would not have been issued by his counterpart in anyone of the world’s top universities like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale in the United States or Oxford, Cambridge and London as they would have been very ashamed by the statement’s Gestapo connotations.

Does Nik Mustapha understand that UPM and the public universities in the country must create the environment for a vibrant, critical and creative student campus and stop all the past and present practices of stifling student activism?

In May this year, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that according the International Advicory Panel (IAP) which just had a meeting, Malaysian students were perceived to be “incurious”.

Najib said this was one of the few comments IAP members, many of whom renowned academicians and industry experts, made about Malaysian students during their deliberations.

Many IAP members found that Malaysian students lack a “questioning culture” and are too passive. “They also lack questioning skills, are not too curious and too readily accept facts told to them”. (The Star 22.5.07).

It is university administrators like Nik Mustapha who are responsible for straight-jacketting Malaysian students into such an incurious and unquestioning mould, making them and the nation totally unready and uncompetitive for the challenges of globalization.

I call on Mustapha to publicly make a personal commitment about the change of priorities for all public universities in line with the “Strategic Plan for Higher Education: Laying the Foundation Beyond 2020” launched by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the end of last month that henceforth his overriding concern is not which candidate or coalition of student groups win campus elections but whether the public universities can achieve international recognition as world-class universities?

Let Mustapha set a good example and give a categorical assurance that no Vice Chancellor or Deputy Vice Chancellor would be penalized because of the outcome of campus elections, as the major criteria in reviewing their performance would be on their leadership ability to put the universities on the world map of internationally-renowned universities.

If the authorities are prepared to impose unfair and undemocratic rules and regulations to manipulate the outcome of campus elections, who will believe that the government will be honest to hold free and fair elections at the national level for Parliament and the formation of the national government?

Mustapha should ensure that the university campus elections this year will be free and fair to herald a vibrant, critical and creative student campus in the public universities.

He should invite Suhakam to advise all public universities to draw up free and fair campus election guidelines and invite the Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights and Good Governance to monitor the campus election in all the public universities.

[The Malaysiakini report on Nik Mustapha’s statement follows:]

UPM VC defends seizure of student’s laptop
Sep 18, 07 8:24pm

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) vice-chancellor Nik Mustapha R Abdullah today defended the action of campus authorities in seizing a student activist’s laptop and 12 other items during a spot check on his hostel room.

In a two-page media statement (see below), Nik Mustapha (left) said the student, Yee Yang Yang, was suspected of having leaflets produced by ‘unregistered’ organisations and that his laptop contained pornographic material.

He said the authorities acted according to procedure and described Yee’s accusation that UPM was attempting to intimidate him due to his involvement in student activism as a “lie.”

“The action taken by the UPM security department was in accordance with the rules and regulations that relate to disciplinary violations made by Yee. His accusations are lies,” said the VC.

He said on Sept 14, the security department was notified by the Students Supreme Council (MTM) and Dorm 13 of a spate of mobile phone thefts in the dorm.

They had asked the security department to conduct a room-to-room search in Block C, 13th College where Yee (right) was staying.

“It was during this search that we found leaflets, donation cards and other documents belonging to an unregistered organisation. This was in violation of Article 12(1) of the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) 1971,” said Nik Mustapha.

The VC added that Yee’s actions had also violated UPM’s student disciplinary guidelines which prohibited the publication, printing or distribution of leaflets without the university’s approval.

“Furthermore, Yee said that he lost his matrix card and the laptop in his room was not his. He also said that the battery of the laptop had died. But when the security personnel checked, his matrix card was with him and his laptop functioned well,” he said.

Pornographic material

Nik Mustapha argued that since Yee had lied about his matrix card and laptop, security personnel had good reasons to be suspicious and to confiscate the student’s laptop, pen-drive, MP4 player, CDs, mobile phone and the leaflets.

He also claimed that Yee had agreed to have these items brought to the security department.

According to the security department, that upon checking the laptop, a vast amount of pornographic material were found and this was in violation of Article 19(1) of the UUCA.

Nik Mustapha said on Sept 15, Yee and a group of students had gathered at the security department’s office and demanded that his belongings be returned.

“When the staff there told him that investigations were ongoing and his belongings could not be returned as yet, the group acted aggressively and obstructed the officers from performing their duty,” he added.

There was a tense stand-off between the students and Zamali Samsi, the head of the university’s Special Task Unit, a student-monitoring outfit which is part of the campus security.

The students stood in front and the back of the vehicle carrying Zamali to stop him from leaving until they got their letter of acknowlegement listing out the items that were taken from Yee. [see video]

According to the VC, the student affairs department is currently investigating the matter.

Yee had previously claimed that the university authorities had acted against him because of his involvement in the ‘opposition’ camp.

Rival students groups – known as anti-establishment and pro-government factions – are already in the midst of campaign preparations for the soon to be held campus polls.

Last year, the anti-establishment group – who are generally regarded to be pro-opposition – had boycotted the election.


Kenyataan Media Naib Canselor UPM
17 September 2007

Kami mendapat maklum tersebarnya dalam media tertentu dakwaan seorang pelajar UPM bahawa pihak keselamatan universiti memecah masuk ke bilik asramanya pada 14 September 2007 dan merampas komputer riba serta lain-lain barangan milik beliau. Dakwaan seterusnya dibuat bahawa tindakan ini diambil pihak universiti untuk menakut-nakutkan pelajar berjelang pilihanraya kampus yang akan diadakan tidak lama lagi.

Berdasarkan siasatan yang dijalankan, UPM ingin menegaskan bahawa dakwaan ini adalah tidak benar. Tindakan pihak keselamatan UPM adalah wajar dan berlandaskan peraturan berkaitan pelanggaran tatatertib oleh pelajar tersebut. Kronologi kejadian adalah seperti berikut:

1. Pada 14 September 2007, Bahagian Keselamatan UPM mendapat panggilan daripada Majlis Tertinggi Mahasiswa (MPM) dan felo Kolej 13 berhubung beberapa kes kecurian komputer riba dan telefon bimbit yang berlaku di kolej tersebut. Penghuni kolej resah dan bimbang kerana telah berlaku lapan kejadian kecurian. Justeru, MPM dan felo kolej mohon kerjasama pihak keselamatan UPM untuk mengadakan pemeriksaan bilik ke bilik di Blok C kolej 13.

2. Semasa mencari komputer riba dan telefon bimbit yang hilang di bilik 505 blok tersebut, pegawai keselamatan menemui pelbagai risalah yang dicetak untuk edaran, kad kutipan wang dan lain-lain dokumen. Penghuni bilik ini ialah pelajar bernama Yee Yang Yang. Beliau tidak mengakui komputer riba di bilik tersebut adalah miliknya. Beliau juga berkata bahawa kad matriknya hilang dan komputer riba itu tidak boleh digunakan kerana kehabisan bateri.

3. Semasa disoal, pegawai keselamatan mendapati Yee ada menyimpan kad matriknya dan komputer riba boleh berfungsi. Oleh kerana ada unsur pembohongan, pegawai keselamatan mempunyai asas meragui tindakan Yee, maka pelajar itu dimaklumkan bahawa risalah, kumputer riba, pendrive, MP4 player, software, CD, dan telefon bimbit jenis Nokia N73 miliknya akan dibawa ke Bahagian Keselamatan sebagai bahan bukti untuk siasatan lanjut. Yee bersetuju dan memberi kebenaran kepada pegawai keselamatan berbuat demikian.

4. Siasatan Bahagian Keselamatan mendapati bahawa risalah yang dijumpai dalam bilik Yee dicetak oleh persatuan yang tidak berdaftar. Komputer ribanya juga mengandungi banyak bahan lucah. Perkara 12 (1) Akta Universiti dan Kolej Universiti 1971, kaedah-kaedah UPM (Tatatertib Pelajar-pelajar) tidak membenarkan pelajar menerbit, mencetak atau mengedar risalah, dokumen atau bahan bercetak tanpa kelulusan pihak berkuasa universiti. Yee juga telah berlanggar Perkara 19 (1) akta tersebut, kerana memiliki dan menyimpan bahan atau artikel lucah semasa dalam kampus.

5. Keesokannya,15 September 2007, Yee dan sekumpulan pelajar datang ke Bahagian Keselamatan untuk mendapatkan kembalii barang barang beliau. Beliau diberitahu bahawa barang-barang tersebut tidak dapat dikembalikan kerana siasatan masih berjalan. Mereka mempertikai keputusan ini dan bertindak liar dengan menghalang pegawai keselamatan menjalankan tugas dan menahan kenderaan rasmi Unit Khas milik universiti daripada bergerak.

6. Kes ini masih disiasat dan telah dibawa ke Bahagian Hal Ehwal Pelajar. Jelas terdapat pelanggaran disiplin dan tatatertib oleh pelajar ini, dan pihak universiti perlu mengambil tindakan sewajarnya. UPM sentiasa menggarapkan suasana hidup yang harmoni dan perpaduan yang kukuh bukan sahaja di kalangan pelajar, tetapi juga di antara pelajar dengan staf.

Naib Canselor
Universiti Putra Malaysia
Serdang, Selangor

  1. #1 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 10:36 am

    I am very surprised how the vice-chancellor could justify the actions of Mat rempit security personnel – at least the latter could plead defence of ignorance or lack of education.

    This seizure of laptop and 12 other items during a spot check on his hostel room is wrong.

    The search was ordered because of reported cases of mobile phone thefts in the dorm.

    If Yee’s room did not conceal the mobile phone stolen that should be the end of the matter and the search.

    Authorities should not use the excuse of searching for and recovering a lost mobile phone to proceed on a FISHING EXPEDITION to try luck if they could chance upon any other items that either violate the law outside (alleged pornographic materials in laptop) or the regulations of the University (like the case of the leaflets).

    This FISHING EXPEDITION is a clear infringement of personal liberty and privacy.

    The Vice Chancellor is arguing like a Mat rempit. How does he like if pursuant to a search of his residence for a stolen mobile phone, we look at his drawer, examine his envelops inside, look under his bed, his locked cupboards, his computer and lap tops as well? Sure we can’t find anything that unfringe one law or another?

    Vice Chancellor Nik Mustapha R Abdullah should take a leaf from what Dr Bakri Musa said of the distilling the essence of Islam – “Feisal and the Aga Khan capture best for me the central Quranic message: Command good and forbid evil. From that central theme flow other subsidiary ones, Like Treating Others As You Wish To Be Treated. That in essence is Allah’s message to all His prophets, and thus the major themes of all faiths. If only our leaders – religious and secular – could emphasize this commonality instead of being obsessed with our differences!

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 10:43 am

    If the fishing expedition is wrong in the first place – and ought not to have taken place – then one can’t make the fishing expedition right and justified just because due to it one happens to find in that wrong process something allegedly illicit or contraband. To otherwise hold the VC’s views will be to justify every act of intrusion on privacy and illegal search and seizure, and every illegal and unlicensed fishing expedition under the guise of seraching for something stolen whether mobile phone, shoes, attache bag, student tag or even ball pen!

  3. #3 by sotong on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 11:47 am

    The actions taken by the authority are like a police investigation of a spy who is trying to cause harm to the country.

    It looks like nothing is spare from the narrow, shallow and damaging politics to retain total control and power at all costs.

  4. #4 by k1980 on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 12:00 pm

    How come the government need not have to make adjustments to its embezzelment/pilferage?
    Malaysians will have to face the reality that the prices of some goods, including foods, are on the increase. The people will have to make adjustments to their spending to cushion the impact of global price trends, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said.

  5. #5 by taxpayer on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 12:43 pm

    All that Yee wanted was an acknowledgement from the security officer for his properties taken. That was a reasonable and legitimate request and the VC now has come up with excuses that any fool will know that they were an afterthought. With VC like him, no wonder we have arrogant security officers who ignore law and orders and hooligans in our universities.

  6. #6 by waterman on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 12:45 pm

    YB Uncle Lim

    My heart really goes out for you having to put up with all these appalling standards of management, from the distribution of wealth;the running of universities to etc…….. for years & years.

    It is indeed very sad to see our nation deteriorates this way. If not for the revenue from petroleum, I dare not imagine our present living condition….

    I just pray that all our citizens will vote wisely in the coming GE, talking of which, may I know how I can get myself registered as I am abroad?

    p/s Anyone knows where to obtain a copy of the full text of that “Hard Talk” interview with our FM? If not I will have to listen & write out a copy slowly. The more I listen & digest, the more I understand why our “BUS” is going “CLIFF” direction.

  7. #7 by Jonny on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 12:50 pm

    Yes, we all have to adjust to the impact. All our Dato’s and Dato’ Seris not needed to. They all have like 15 year long concession given to private company to milk us for another 15 years left and right.

    If the security guards of UPM is so free and underutilized, why not have a thorough search of the whole campus for pornographic pictures in laptops, PCs?

    And perhaps, next to check through emails of anti-establishment propaganda or whatever?

  8. #8 by pwcheng on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 1:26 pm

    There bis no Free and Fair election. So do not be disillusioned by harping that elections can changed all this. The existing power know this and that is why they can afford to behave in any manner they like and do anything they like. It definitely needs more than an election to defeat them.
    Our RPK had petitioned to the Agung and lets walk the first mile as there are hundreds of miles more to walk.

  9. #9 by disapointed86 on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 4:52 pm

    the gov and the uni administration spend so much time doing something that is not important..there is a bigger task that is to bring the uni to higher dissapointed..erm..can i ask..having porno in laptop also wrong ar? erm… gov only know to talk but never act… i swear i wont enter gov uni at all cost..even though its free.. babaric administration and wonder so many smart and talented people go elsewhere to study and work.. now i understand the situation.. to all the readers out there.. please vote wisely in the coming GE…i dont see any point of voting the nominal member( only put their name up as minister) but only know how to sleep..pity malaysia..and Malaysian :(..

  10. #10 by Jimm on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 5:07 pm

    They mentioned that Uni students are not supposed to get involved in politics.
    The best thing that happening now are they are recruiting new members for their political camps to geared up for the next GE.

    What is what now ???

  11. #11 by badak on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 7:55 pm

    Check opposition officess and NGOs they are also anti-establishment,What bull shit UMNO PUTRI AND PUTRA are openly recruitting new members on campuses all over the country with the help of the education ministry.

    With the open and wide publicity PUTRA UMNO has on Mat Rembit on Campus ,It,s no secret that Mat Rembit has taken over the campus,As long as you are a Putri or Putra UMNO member you can do no wrong. What happen to the case of the girls who was bashed up by the UMNO thugs ,Nothing thats how low our UNI has gone,BN boleh What rubbish

  12. #12 by dawsheng on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 8:01 pm

    It is the wrong decision to study in local university in the first place, poor taste and bad choice. Quit and go to Singapore and forget about student politic.

  13. #13 by samadian7985 on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 - 11:30 pm

    I have seen the video clip from youtube and I found the VC is a number one liar. These under graduates will going to be a very dynamic bunch in years to come. I’m sure many students must have received order from their parents not to get involve or you will be kicked out from uni and have no future. I have a message for those who are staying away from getting involve, your parents have destroyed your future. Just like they destroyed their own future by supporting MCA.

You must be logged in to post a comment.