KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12, 2014:

University Malaya’s Students Association claims that the disciplinary process carried out against eight UM students is unfair as it has failed “to adhere and incorporate elements of natural justice”. The association’s president, Mohd Ammar Atan, pointed out that the disciplinary panel — which suspended student activist Fahmi Zainol for two semesters — lacked individuals with a legal background.

This, he argued in a statement, led to a literal interpretation of the provision rather than a “purposive” approach.

Mohd Ammar also claimed that the evidence presented against the students also lacked “sufficient integrity”.

Some students, he said, were asked to answer and defend themselves against newspaper articles written of the event in question.

The accused students, Mohd Ammar alleged, were also not informed of the evidence and witnesses that would be utilised in proving the charges against them, neither were they allowed time to prepare for such evidence or testimonies.

“If this is the standard, then the likelihood of injustice towards students facing disciplinary hearings is extremely high.”

The association called on UM to reassess its stand on the UM8 and for the sentences to be dropped and reduced.

Aside from the two-year suspension, Fahmi was also fined RM600.

Fahmi was among the eight convicted under the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 on various charges for organising a talk by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Safwan Shamsuddin was suspended for a semester and fined RM300, while another four were given a warning and issued a RM150 fine.

Abraham Au was cleared of all charges and Khairul Najib let off with a stern warning.

Mohd Ammar had earlier labelled the sentences on the seven students as “disproportionate and oppressive” especially with regards to the suspension of two students who had completed their semesters and would be barred from taking their exams and graduating.

The association, he said, found the university’s response “troubling”. “We do not speak based on ideology nor partisan self-interest, but as a body, firmly upholding the principle of academic freedom, the need for students autonomy and the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution.”

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