KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 – Lim Kit Siang has called on Universiti Malaya (UM) to withdraw its police report alleging its campus grounds were trespassed and an illegal gathering took place. The DAP supremo, in a statement, said UM’s administration should take “an enlightened attitude” on what took place on Monday night and admit they made a “colossal blunder” in the lockdown of UM.
The institution, Lim suggested, should enlist the support of university students, alumni, academicians and the Malaysian public to restore academic freedom and regain the university’s international repute for academic excellence that it had in its early decades. Lim opined if the university went on a “witch hunt” to penalise students and academicians for the Monday night fiasco, it would be a disservice to its reputation.
“It would do nothing to restore its repute as the country’s premier university.” Lim said the incident at UM two days ago had created renewed hope among Malaysians who had “increasingly become more disenchanted and disillusioned with recent national developments in the country”. He said it also created a realisation about the need for academic freedom in the country and the state of universities.
Lim subsequently questioned whether UM was willing to learn from the lockdown and power blackout on how this form of freedom could be restored. In the Oct 27 incident, about 300 youths, including students from the higher learning institution, had forced their way through UM’s main gate at 9.20pm to attend a talk by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, which was purportedly scheduled to be held at the hall.
The programme did not obtain the prior approval of the university and its security unit had locked the main gate. UM lodged the police report the following day, with UM Media and Corporate Unit head Izzad Zalman Abd Kader saying that the gathering was held illegally and no one could hold an event without getting the university’s approval first. UM would also conduct an internal investigation on its students involved under the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 and the constitution of the university.