Our citation is reproduced below. You MUST read about all of the 13 citations so excellently rendered by The Nut Graph team at its Merdeka Awards 2011 here, and not only because we have been cited. See our exposé on the UKM4 here thanks to LoyarBurokkers Ong Jo-Lene, Eunice Ong and Lim Kar Mern.
2011 is going by in a flash, and yet it has felt long and intense. The political temperature has been kept on the high side, first with the Sarawak elections, then the Bersih 2.0 rally, endless speculation about the next general election, and most recently, inter-religious tensions involving allegations against Christians.
Malaysians certainly have had a hodgepodge of issues and emotions to deal with. While many of our public leaders have disappointed, there are others who have given us hope. Most inspirational of all are the Malaysian rakyat who have done extraordinary things, as this listing of our third annual Merdeka Awards will show you.
This week, as we welcome 54 years of Malaysian independence, The Nut Graph celebrates, in no particular order, 13 individuals, groups and initiatives. We have gone beyond our usual 10 choices because we feel that all on this list deserve recognition for their efforts in shaping Malaysia into the nation we know it can and deserves to be.
This list is not definitive or exhaustive in any way, and there will certainly be others out there who have escaped our attention. Readers are welcome to include theirs in the comments section to make the picture complete.
UKM4 and LoyarBurok
Students and lawyers pair up to earn a spot in our awards for their tenacity in fighting for students’ rights to participate in politics. The four Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia political science students, known as the UKM4 – Hilman Idham, Woon King Chai, Izan Shafina and Ismail Aminiddin – have fought the Universities and University College Act (UUCA) since being accused of campaigning in the Hulu Selangor by-election in April 2010. Although police charges were dropped, their university began internal proceedings. On 21 July 2011, after a sustained campaign on their plight with the help of LoyarBurok, the university dropped disciplinary charges against the four.
LoyarBurok, a group which promotes legal and human rights issues, was the first to draw attention to UKM4’s plight in their blog. Both the group and the students have brought the issue of student rights into the limelight, generated debate and even garnered international attention. The students’ application to the High Court to declare Section 15(5)(a) of the Act as an unconstitutional violation of the freedom of expression may have been dismissed, but they have filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal and the fight for student freedom continues.