USM student language society gets show-cause letter

Ng Boon Hooi

Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

Universiti Sains Malaysia's Chinese Language Society, also known as Persatuan Bahasa Tionghua (PBT), received a show-cause letter two days ago from the university authorities alleging that it was involved in "anti-university" activities.

The letter sought an explanation from the society by next Monday on why the organisation should not be suspended.

The PBT Support Committee, a group formed by the ex-members of the society, has expressed shock and regret over the show-cause letter, which was sent by USM authorities on Wednesday.

The committee, in a statement released today, said that the university had outlined nine allegations against PBT.

But student leaders in the society are seeking an extension to the five-day deadline given by the authorities to submit their letter of explanation.

"Since USM students are currently sitting for their examinations, PBT executive members have appealed to extend the deadline," said the statement.

When contacted by malaysiakini , PBT's chairperson Lee Yen Ting declined to comment on the show-cause letter.

However, malaysiakini learnt that the allegations were related to a number of "offences" said to be committed by PBT leaders and members over the past few months.

"In our view, the urgent need is to ensure the students and the PBT will not be penalised," said the PBT Support Committee.

The committee added that they are seeking a meeting with the campus authorities to discuss the matter.

RM200 fine

PBT leader Lee was recently hauled up by campus authorities for her alleged involvement in an 'illegal assembly' last November to protest against the proposed Vision School.

In an Aug 23 letter, USM Students Affairs Department asked Lee, to attend an inquiry into the matter early this week.

However, Lee, a third-year management student, is scheduled to sit for her final examinations on that day and has written to the authorities calling for a postponement to the inquiry.

Lee and her colleagues in the PBT have earlier been punished by university authorities for a number of "offences".

In early July, the university fined Lee and society's secretary Choo Chon Kai RM200 for speaking to the media to complain about 'unreasonable treatment' by the university.

Last Thursday, Choo was also found guilty of selling anti-Internal Security Act badges on campus grounds. He will know his fate in the university after his final-year examinations later this month.

In early August, the university authorities fined four students - Lim Khoon Ehua, Ong Wee Ling, Hoo Kam Fong and Lim Gim Shin - RM150 each for taking part in a debate in Singapore in May without prior permission from the university.

PBT was formed in 1970 after Universiti Malaya's Chinese Language Society. The UM body was banned in 1974 for alleged anti-government activities and a new society was eventually set up in 1986.

For the past few decades, the two societies have been active in promoting the progress and development of Chinese language and culture, and raising social awareness among university students.