KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10, 2014:

About a thousand University Malaya (UM) students and faculty members join in a chant asking for the abolishment of Sedition Act 1948.

“Hidup hidup, hidup mahasiswa, hidup pensyarah. Mansuh mansuh, mansuh Akta Hasutan.”

The chant followed every speech delivered by student representatives, all fired up in the fight against the Act which implicated one of their lecturers, Dr Azmi Sharom.

President of UM Pro-Mahasiswa Safwan Shamsuddin asked for all the university members to show the government the power of academic’s voice.

“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should channel his lust for life into arresting those who abused the Sedition Act, such as a certain Minister who publicly angered the Malaysian Chinese by asking them what else do they want.

“We want all sedition charges on the many innocent individuals dropped, and for Najib to fulfil his 2012 promise to abolish the Act,” said Safwan.

About 700 students, including 250 from the Law Faculty where Dr Azmi Sharom worked, attended the solidarity rally-cum-protest.

Also present were Puchong member of parliament Gobind Singh Deo, Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng and PKR Youth Chief Nik Azmi Nik Ahmad.

The gathering which began around 12:30pm concluded two hours later, with students flying the national flag at half mast to signify the “death of the nation’s academic freedom”.

They also declared the tree where the speeches were given as the “Tree of Academic Freedom”.

Vince Tan, the movement’s co-ordinator and also a student of Dr Azmi said the professor has taught him International Human Rights Law, and today him and the rest of the law students are fighting for Azmi’s human rights.

“The nation’s academic level has dropped to an unacceptable level.

“With the repression on academicians’ freedom of speech, leaving them open to legal actions, our academic system can never be recovered.”

UM’s senior lecturer Dr. Hwok-Aun Lee said all of the attendees had chosen to skip their lunch and gather under the hot sun instead, to defend the academic freedom.

“If you take the freedom away, something will die within the university. “We cannot produce good research, findings, or deliver a good lecture if our human rights are trampled on.” Jason Ng, 22, was one of 20 University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) law students present at the gathering. “We are concerned with the recent spate of sedition charges, so we decided to come here (UM) today to gather information from all these intellectuals and share it with our course mates who were unable to join us.” Ng, the student representative for UKM’s law faculty said that although he believed in the freedom of speech, there has to be a limitation to it so as to avoid abuse. “The government can retain the Sedition Act, but use it appropriately. It got ridiculous when you start charging academicians for sedition.”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W43OMbPK0nE

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