Students come together in defiance of UM

by Muzliza Mustafa and Lee Shi-Ian
28 October 2014

The students who forced themselves into the University Malaya campus tonight to listen to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speak said the situation would not have come to this if only the university’s administration had not banned the event.

Many felt that the failure by UM in acknowledging academic freedom and the rights of students was what pulled the crowd together.

Wei Yan, 21, a student from UM said what happened last night was historical as students stood united in support of each other.

“This is big. It is not about politics. I just believe that he (Anwar) as an individual should be allowed to address the students in campus, like other leaders. He has given speeches before, but it was outside. This is good because the students could listen and digest what he said,” said Wei Yan.

The event, ‘Pidato Anwar Ibrahim: 40 Tahun Dari UM ke Penjara’, had been declared illegal by UM vice-chancellor of student affairs Professor Datuk Dr Rohana Yusof.

But the crowd, which numbered about 2,000, forced their way through the main gates before Anwar arrived and spoke for about 20 minutes.

University Putra Malaysia student Chai Xintao, 21, almost gave the event a miss as he had a lot of homework to do, but turned up with five friends as a show of solidarity with the UM students.

“We have read about the issues and how the UM administration had reacted to the event. We just wanted to be here to listen to what Anwar had to say about his case,” said Chai .

“The number of students who turned up were far more than the other student events I have attended.”

He pointed out the incident of the crowd forcing their way into the campus grounds would not have happened if only the university had allowed them in.

Another student from UPM, Fatiha Ahmad, 23, said she felt tonight’s event was a success.

“People were here because of the restrictions imposed. Students came in droves to show that we are united. What is the harm in listening to the speech?” asked Fatiha who came to the event with her husband.

“The number of people would not have been too big and things would have been calmer if only the university had given its approval to Anwar to address the students.”

She felt that the university’s action in declaring the event illegal, was the reason for the large turnout.

Another student, Michelle Lee, said she was initially not interested in attending the event as she was not a supporter of Anwar or PKR.

But she changed her mind when the university yesterday allowed the staff to go home at 4pm yesterday, citing problems with the electricty supply to the campus.

“It was such a ridiculous excuse. I was outraged, so I changed my mind and decided to attend the event.”

Lee said UM was clearly restricting student freedom, adding that the university should give them sufficient space and freedom to voice their opinions.

Habibah Ab Hamid, 22, and her friend were trying to exit the university to return home, but when they saw the main gates locked, they decided to join the crowd.

“We are in the final year of our studies, but the university is treating us like children. We have our own mind and should be allowed to draw our own conclusions,” she said.

Habibah said that student freedom should not be restricted and there is no need for the university to think on their behalf. – October 27, 2014.

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 - 10:24 am

    Student Power, yeah!

    So, now, rakyat watch: Face saving. Will they go after UMSU’s student leaders?

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