Not crime to step on PM’s photos, say student activists

September 07, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 ― Student activists suggested today it was not a criminal offence to trample on the photographs of the country’s top leaders, reasoning that it was a normal reaction by youths who were politically-aware.

“We are sure all students with (political) awareness will certainly react (by stepping on pictures),” said Legasi Mahasiswa Progresif (LMP) co-ordinator Adam Adli.

“We are still assessing what is the best response to this action,” Adam said, in reference to Cybernetics International College of Technology’s expulsion of a student for allegedly insulting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife on the eve of the 55th National Day celebrations.

Adam said his group will meet with Muhammad Ammar A. Rahman, the Cybernetics college student who was expelled yesterday.

“We won’t leave Ammar alone.

“We will meet with him [soon], and in the same development, in the spirit of solidarity, those responsible for this injustice (the expulsion) will bear the consequences for this issue,” Adam said when contacted by The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

Adam himself is now undergoing a three-semester suspension from the Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris (UPSI) for lowering a pennant bearing Najib’s image during an undergraduates’ demonstration in front of the Umno headquarters early this year.

Yesterday the Cybernetics disciplinary and academic board said it had decided to eject the student after he was found to have insulted the country’s leaders.

Cybernetics had also disavowed the third-semester Creative Multimedia Diploma student’s actions and said his involvement in the incident was purely in his personal capacity.

“This does not represent the culture of knowledge practised in Cybernetics at all,” the college said in a statement, adding that it took proactive steps to help the police in their investigations.

Another student group, Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA), said stepping on pictures, even those of the country’s top leaders, did not constitute a crime and opposed to Cybernetics’ expulsion of the student.

“DEMA feels the act of stepping on photos of the PM and his wife is not an offence, but that action is only a way to express dissatisfaction.
“Most importantly, that action did not endanger lives or the safety of others and the PM is not someone who cannot be disputed,” said Wong Swee Nee, the movement’s secretary of administration, in a statement emailed to The Malaysian Insider this morning.

DEMA said Cybernetics’ action was cruel and unreasonable, saying: “Clearly the freedom of undergraduates in this country is increasingly shackled by unreasonable rules.”
“Besides that, the college’s action of expelling the student shows that the reasoning of our institutes of higher learning is outdated and favours the authorities.”

“We believe that [the appropriate] action is to warn undergraduates and youths from continuing to take part in peaceful assemblies and social movements, as more and more youths are stepping forward to express their dissatisfaction towards the Barisan Nasional regime and we urge that the college retracts its decision.”

A third group, Independent Undergraduate Activists Group (KAMI), considered Cybernetics’ expulsion of the student as “irrational” since it gave him no opportunity to defend himself.

“Cybernetics’ action in expelling an undergraduate for being accused of an act insulting the country’s leaders is irrational and not according to procedures.”

“In any administration system, for a first-time offence, the university should give a warning first before taking heavy action,” said Khalid Ismath, KAMI’s deputy president, when contacted by The Malaysian Insider.
“Also, according to the country’s legal system, one is not deemed guilty until found guilty by the courts. The college administration should protect its students interests compared to accusations yet to be proven in law as students are clients that must be taken care of and valuable assets.

“KAMI will appeal for the defence of the fate of the student who was simply expelled,” he added.

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