Lee Song Yong one-semester suspension – Mustapha should quash it so that Malaysian undergrads do not become zombies

Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapha Mohamad should quash the one-semester suspension of second-year computer science student Lee Song Yong by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and send a clear message to all universities to be single-minded in the national objective to create a world-class university system.

The national contribution and challenge of all universities and university administrators in the country is to achieve a world-class university education system without which Malaysia cannot succeed in the transition and transformation from a production-based to a knowledge-based innovative economy.

It is simply outrageous that the UPM should be obsessed with the pettiness of Little Napoleons to penalize independent-spirited students when all universities and university officials should be united by one objective – how to reverse the free fall of international rankings of Malaysian universities confirmed by the latest Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World’s Top 200 Universities Rankings 2007 which demonstrate that no Malaysian university is competitive internationally.

What is Lee Song Yong’s offence?

On Aug 22, Lee was stopped by security guards at the university’s exit and his notebook was seized on grounds that he was being investigated for being a member of an illegal student organisation.

Lee initially refused to cooperate because the campus officers were not in their uniforms which led to the university accusing him of obstructing its officers from executing their duty.

In the background was the unfair and one-sided rigging of campus student elections, orchestrated by the university student affairs department in cahoots with the campus security personnel.

Should such a minor and trivial matter result in the empanelling of a disciplinary proceeding, where Lee was denied legal representation, leading to his university suspension for six months? Or even the arrogant and contemptuous dismissal of the Suhakam appeal for a suspension of the disciplinary proceedings?

One would have thought from the university’s response that Lee was guilty of some heinous crime, like being a member of some militant terrorist student outfit planning to throw bombs in the campus — when it was nothing of the sort whatsoever.

Lee’s guilt was being too idealistic and independent-minded in wanting to work for change in the university to foster student activism and academic freedom.

Is that a virtue or a vice, or even a crime?

In May this year, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that members of the MSC International Advisory Panel (IAP), many of whom are renowned academicians and industry experts, had made the observation at their annual meeting that Malaysian students lack a “questioning culture” and are too passive — which are not the qualities to propel Malaysia to become a dynamic and responsive knowledge-based innovative economy in the era of IT and globalization.

Clearly Lee does not fit into this unquestioning, unthinking student mould which was the lament of the IAP, and such students like Lee should be tapped and encouraged instead of being penalized to kill their independent spirits, which will only drive more students to become zombies.

University security personnel are to protect the personal safety of lecturers and students and security of their property in the campus but not to become their minders or to be their “thought police”.

The Lee Song Yong case is as much a test of the preparedness and seriousness of UPM and Malaysian universities to achieve a competitive position internationally as well as a test of Mustapha’s vision, leadership and commitment as Higher Education Minister to create the requisite academic culture and environment for the public universities in Malaysia to attain world-class status.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 2:04 pm

    Dolah and Jeen go to their doctor for a checkup.
    “How’re you doing?” Doc asks the doddering Dolah, who is starting to nod off.
    “Very good,” answers the old man. “The money keeps flowing in and I’m eating well, and I’m still in control of my bowels and bladder. In fact, when I get up at night to pee, the good Lord turns the light on for me.”
    “What does he mean?” a baffled Doc asks Jeen.
    “Oh No!” yells Jeen, “He’s peeing in the refrigerator again.”

  2. #2 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 2:06 pm

    Lee Song Yong should just treat this suspension with the contempt it desrves – quit UPM and tell the world why he did so.

    Provided his qualifications can get him into another private Univ with a course of his choice. Maybe, his sympathisers can help pay for his fees! Any takers?

    YB LKS says: “Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapha Mohamad should quash the one-semester suspension of second-year computer science student Lee Song Yong by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and send a clear message to all universities to be single-minded in the national objective to create a world-class university system.”

    Can such a small gesture even mean anything at all let alone ‘creating a world-class university system”. As I have said before, even if the government removes all obstacles now and implements meritocracy, this will take at least 10 years for Malaysian universities to creep into world rankings. You can’t replace whole faculties and create knowledge personnel in just a few years! But, fat hopes! Even when solutions are so plain, BN will prefer to sit on their rumps rather than move their ‘####’!

  3. #3 by sotong on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 2:07 pm

    The sole intention is to instil fear.

    Their actions are grossly unfair, harsh and unnecessary and would create an unhealthy academic environment.

    No wonder the country’s education standards had declined significantly over the decades.

  4. #4 by sotong on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 2:26 pm

    Everything is politically related to these people who are running the university with priority to serve their political party/personal agenda…….this is most damaging a growing and developing country.

    If the government is serious about openess, tolerance, fairness and unity, unsuitable people should not be employed, let alone lead, such places of higher education in the first place.

  5. #5 by Libra2 on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 3:22 pm

    It all boils down to Malay Dominance. They are mocking at the other races, plain and simple.
    One UMNO guy punched a Chinese photographer – no action.
    Malay students manhandled the Chinese in UPM – no action.
    UMNO threatened the Chinese with the keris – no action.
    Nine non-Malay Ministers were ordered to withdraw their memorandum to the Sleepy King.
    How much lower can they go?
    If MCA and MIC want their communities to remain slavish and being mocked at, whom do we blame.

  6. #6 by max2811 on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 3:51 pm

    To all parents with college-aged children. Equip them with foreign degrees or qualifications. Other than the various twinning programmes offered, girls can try nursing, accounting etc. It will give them a chance to be accepted by another country which doesn’t practise marginalisation, religious intolerance, bullying, racial discrimination and wholesale corruption. Don’t talk about MCA. OKT’s brother just ‘bought’ another house with his dirty money.

  7. #7 by Jackychin on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 4:05 pm

    Such brilliant student should not bear the name of UPM in the world and to the job market, the name of the school will only bring him down as a low class graduate, look for better oppotunites which will flare his achievements elsewhere, its only fair…

  8. #8 by Cinapek on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 4:09 pm

    The actions of UPM is but an extension of the type of actions and decisions you would expect from an UMNO led Govt. Monkey see, monkey do.

    In the public arena, dissenting voices will be punished by the ISA, water cannons or, in the case of Batu Buruk, guns. The university authorities and their hired goons learn from their political masters.

    These so called university authorities are guided in their actions by the expectations of their political masters, not by the pursuit of academic excellence. Instead of nurturing an environment that encourages young minds to think out of the box, they just want to create a bunch of meek, robotic conformists that will satisfy their political masters’ objectives. Independent minded individuals able to think well will pose problems for the ruling elites in later life.

    Now ever wondered why our universities are sliding into oblivion? I hope those university administrators can prop up their pillows at night and search their own concience for the damage they have done to the nation when they destroyed generations of young minds.

  9. #9 by sheriff singh on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 4:50 pm

    Ah, another disciplinary case at UPM!

    They never fail to disappoint us at this “research” university. While the other Universities try to do some academic research, this one “searches” its students relentlessly. Maybe they don’t understand the word “research”, maybe their English “no good”. Someone quickly send them a dictionary.

    This University is supposed to be named after our first Prime Minister, the Prince, Tunku, Putra. I do not believe the Tunku will be pleased that his good name is being degraded so much. The Tunku is much more noble and would not condone these idiotic acts by officials of this University named after him.

    UPM can do better to hold dear the name of the Tunku. Otherwise go back to Universiti Pertanian Malaysia and continue this “agricultural” mentality. The University prides itself as being the second oldest University at 70 or 75 years old but its acts are actually quite infantile, not fitting for someone in his 70s. Grow up and stop being a bully.

  10. #10 by FuturePolitician on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 5:15 pm


    It is a sorry state of affair with the universities in Malaysia. The bulgeoning cost of foreign university does not help neither.

    What are the options left for our children in the future?

    The brain drain in the intellectual areas such as doctors, engineers, analyst,etc would probably come to a point where the nation needs to give PR status to those foreigners.

    UPM has gone too far this time with the prosecution of their students. The chancellor should be reprimanded and remove from the office by his peers.

    Anyhow, with the ranking of university in the world standard, it is a useless piece of recognition and doubt you would find a great job with MNCs with such credentials.


  11. #11 by HJ Angus on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 6:30 pm

    How can most students not become zombies when we have people appointed to senior posts in the Universities who act like zombies?

    There is little thinking done on the results of their actions. No wonder our rankings in THES appear to be in a free fall.

    Maybe this is not really my concern as my own children do not have to study in such places.

  12. #12 by grace on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 8:53 pm

    What has the MCA got to say?
    Think OKT should stop talking nonsense. Practically he is an apple polisher!!!

  13. #13 by undergrad2 on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 10:24 pm

    The rallying cry perhaps ought to be “Vote Opposition” because there have been readers here who said they would rather stay home rather than vote since DAP is not on the ballot paper.

  14. #14 by budak on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 10:26 pm

    i always do “X” DAP…
    MCA keep fails to “jaga” Malaysian Chinese interest…
    i believe that’s why Mustapha go China to find Chinese & localize them & support them… i think China Chinese not stupid either… just wait for more Suzhou “si”…

  15. #15 by cancan on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 10:34 pm

    We must expose this case to the world.
    Please compile this case and send it to all major international medias.

    We must let everyone knows that this is the most discriminating country in the world.

    And we must not suffer in silence anymore.

  16. #16 by undergrad2 on Friday, 23 November 2007 - 11:25 pm

    There is nothing wrong in the DAP tapping into the pool of new voters by championing the cause of undergraduates in Malaysia’s “terrorized” campuses.

    But more relevant is the issue of the university being the training ground for inquisitive minds, ones that ask “why” and not just “what” “where” and “how”. How the country would do in the years ahead both politically and economically depends on these young minds. We should provide them with the kind of environment such minds need to thrive. Instead, as any visitor to any of the campuses in Malaysia knows, the kind of minds we “grow” in our campuses are the kind that are fearful of ‘change’.

  17. #17 by akarmalaysian on Saturday, 24 November 2007 - 2:34 pm

    i dunno wat really this mr lee song yong has done to trigger the authorities to take such action.but penalising him in such a way is far too harsh and it just shows how discriminative and chisdishness of those authorities.if instilling fear by such actions i dun think that will work.if an offence has been done of course punishment must be in accordance with the nature of wrong doings…but banning a student for a semester…pls check and analyse why malaysia has such brain drain officials…and wat are they trying to prove…and do they really hv the authority to do so.we hv nothing to brag or show off the prestige of our universities at present to the world due to a lot of unqualified people running them especially people fr the education ministries.if talking abt “pasal muka”…and if i was that idiot who wud go to other countries to promote our universities whr their rankings wud even put our universities into shame….i really dunno whr to put my face.these are just one of those many idiotic ministers who just wont even knw how ignorant,thick faced and stupid they are…and yet they think they are smart.we hv a minister who always gives wrong informations,a minister who always says wrong things,ministers who knw nothing but saying childish remarks and showing foul gestures,a leader who frequently falls asleep and keeps forgeting wat hes said,a leader who has to depend on his SIL to make decisions and to sum it all…a lot of our ministers are scumbags.

  18. #18 by Loyal Malaysian on Saturday, 24 November 2007 - 6:23 pm

    Come on, you must be kidding!! To expect Mustapha to quash the unfair punishment meted down on Lee is like expecting the water to flow upstream.
    It may be more practical for DAP to offer its legal resources to help Lee overturn that sentence in a courst of law.
    OOps!! I forgot most of our judges are subservient to their political masters.
    Looks like, Lee has no option and sit out the one semester suspension and be thankful the UPM authourities are so kind not to expel him.

  19. #19 by LadyinBlack on Monday, 26 November 2007 - 11:12 am

    a month suspension to the victim?

    this is as trashy as the case where the rape victim was punished instead of the rapist!…

    where is justice??

  20. #20 by cminka on Monday, 26 November 2007 - 11:47 am

    Its clearly noted that anything you want to do in Malaysia should favour to the the Goverment. Once your offence your will be ruled out..!
    This is BN/UMNO RULE….

  21. #21 by johan_my on Monday, 26 November 2007 - 4:26 pm

    I cannot ascertain from the article what Song Yong’s misdemeanour is. Surely it cannot be just for refusing to let the security check his notebook. In any case, without a search warrant, even in campus, the security does not have the power to check the content of someone’s notebook, electronic or otherwise. If the suspension is just for this act, then the university have overstepped its power and the minister of higher education needs to direct the university to rescind the suspension order.

    I was in Universiti Malaya when the student demonstration took place in 1974. It was the police who came in to arrest the student leaders, not the university’s security guards. If a crime is committed, surely the police should be called in.


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