Petition to Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman : Retract Your Notice to Students advising not to Participate in Protests and Gatherings
25 November 2016
The President of the University,
Professor Dr Chuah Hean Teik
Dear Professor Chuah,
We—the students and alumni of the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman and the general public—are appalled to learn that the Department of Student Affair issued a notice on facebook on the 24 November 2016 to students advising them not to participate in so-called “illegal gatherings”. The notice was presumably made in light of the pro-democracy cadlelight vigil to call for the release of Maria Chin under detention of SOSMA. It is clear that these notices are intended to deter students from exercising their basic rights to free expression and to participate in peaceful assemblies.
The Federal Constitution of Malaysia upholds the right to freedom of expression and to assemble peacefully, although recently passed bills have made it easier for the government to take legal action against those exercising their constitutional rights. Indeed, the insinuation that public assemblies are “illegal gatherings” reflects a poor grasp of democracy, at best, and a capitulation to authoritarian powers, at worst.
More than ever, the world needs institutions that upholds democratic values, not those that stand against them. Surely, curtailing students’ basic democratic rights is not what the University means by its commitment to “core values of nurturing global citizens who are empowered to serve our national and global communities.” A university whose aim is to make a positive global impact should be committed to respecting the basic human rights of its students everywhere.
We strongly urge Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman to publicly retract its statements, to issue a genuine apology, and to make amends to students for such acts of intimidation.