The Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari has questioned University Malaya’s move to suspend the university’s Chinese Language Society (CLS), saying that the move is excessive and amounts to bullying.
He questioned why warnings, show-cause letters, and fines had been deemed inadequate, and warned that taking drastic action against students could drive students towards unregistered bodies, whether within or beyond the campus.
“Stern action like this gives the message that the university’s administration would not hesitate to take drastic actions against anyone for any reason.
“This time, the CLS had been made an example. After this, who is next? Is this part of a campaign to bully students so as to rule by fear?
“Surely if the university continues to bully and pressure (the students), more students would choose to be active in unregistered groups whether within or beyond the university,” Zairil said in a statement today.
The CLS had received a show-cause letter on Oct 30. Following unsuccessful appeals, it was suspended with effect from Sept 2017 to Feb 2018. This means that its Sept 21 annual general meeting is null and void.
CLS president Wong Yan Ke (photo) had said the suspension would jeopardise the upcoming National Varsity Chinese Debate Competition, the National Secondary School Chinese Language Society Camp and other activities for the public.
According to Wong, the show cause letter had cited the CLS for four offences: unauthorised activities, unauthorised use of the venue, posting notices without permission, and the lack of English or Malay language translations of the poster in question.
Wong said the notice, comprising seven Chinese words, was in fact directions to a music workshop, but a complaint was lodged against the CLS that the lack of English or Malay translation had caused ethnic friction.
He admitted the error, but decried the suspension as disproportionate and claimed that the society had not received any warning prior to the suspension.
Meanwhile, both Zairil and PKR youth chief Nik Nazmi Nik Mat said the suspension shows that the university is cracking down on the freedom of speech, in light of its gag order on all staff and students issued this week.
The order forbids its students and staff from making public statements that could have “negative implications” on the university and the government.
“Cleary the authorities and determined to curtail the freedom of speech and freedom of association of our students,” Nik Nazmi said in a statement today.