You’ve heard of the UKM4, you’ve read that they were arrested and are to face disciplinary proceedings under the UUCA, you’ve seen a re-energised student movement seeking to repeal the UUCA, and Court proceedings are on-foot. But how much do you really know about the protagonists?
In this 3 part exclusive, King Chai, Hilman, Azlin and Ismail – four bright and passionate mahasiswa Sains Politik share with LoyarBurokkers – Ong Jo-Lene, Eunice Ong, and Lim Kar Mern, their stories, aspirations and the battle that lies ahead.
Part 1: Rebels or Revolutionaries? Find out just who are the “UKM 4.”
Part 2: Sitting Ducks or Schmucks? What they say really happened on the day of their arrest.
Part 3: Fight For Students Freedom!
Azlin, King Chai: We have no reason to regret.
Ismail: We all scored an A in all the subjects we sat for after the arrest, including Election Analysis, so agak berbaloi juga we made that field trip!
Hilman: No, I’ve been arrested 3 times; at the Sogo protest and again in HS when I went back to check on our impounded van.
Azlin, Ismail, King Chai: Yes, because we believe in freedom of movement.
Hilman: If I can’t be in HS during by-elections or in Sibu during by-elections – what happens when its the general elections? Are they going to send all university students overseas for a holiday?
Also note that the UUCA also says that we cannot support our local political parties, but also international parties.This means that students cannot join yesterday’s anti-Israel demonstrations because it would supporting Hamas and Hamas is a political party.
Azlin: We are all aware of the UUCA but it did not cross my mind because I was not going to support or be in favour of any party. I don’t think we’ve done any wrong, tak bersalah, even if you go by the UUCA’s oppressive Section 15(5)(a).
Ismail: Actually, what we wanted to observe was the SPR (Election Commission).
Hilman: The point is that the field trip and observation directly relates to our major, especially that semester because we took Election Analysis. Furthermore, all of us are involved in campus politics and elections and we wanted to see how “big” real elections would be and how they are conducted.
King Chai: Whenever I was flustering about campus elections, Hilman would remind me, “Ini baru campus je, kita belum tengok kat luar lagi.”
UKM 4: We believe the UUCA should be abolished, Mansuhkan AUKU.
Ismail: Other than that, we refuse to stand “trial” at the internal disciplinary proceedings because it won’t be a fair one – it will be one sided – a case of “the judge, jury and executor.”
King Chai: We have been put this position through no fault of ours and not by choice either. Now that we find ourselves here, the four of us decided that it’s time to take a stand. Instead of just doing something that will only get the four us off the hook or be cowed into apologising when we truly believe we have done no wrong – we will challenge the constitutionality of the UUCA 1971. We have always believed it is unconstitutional and irrelevant to students.
We hope that the level of awareness amongst the students regarding this issue will bring about an atmosphere of change and confidence within the students to want to move towards reform and to embrace the challenge of being a mahasiswa that is not just focused in their studies but also concerned with issues in the society.
Hilman: The UUCA is an oppressive act. It limits students – from what we think, what we are allowed to say, down to our movement as proven in our case. Students cannot be expected to just bury their faces in books – if I don’t go into society, how will I join society? We want to show people that unfair and oppressive laws and acts like the UUCA can be challenged.
The voting age in the country is 21 years. We are all registered voters. So if we cannot be seen “to show sympathy or support to any political party”, how to vote?!? We can’t vote based on how handsome a candidate looks – we have to know what he stands for, what his party stands for and will do for society.
Hilman: We are very thankful for all of the support lent to us by the students, NGOs, public figures as well as ministers in the government, such as Deputy Youth and Sports Minister, Gan Ping Sieu who held a press conference to urge the government to look into our matter and the UUCA. To us, the support that we received is very important because it proves to us that our efforts are recognised – that we are not merely trying to get ourselves off the hook.
King Chai: No doubt there are one or two blogs or comments that are supporting the UUCA charge against us, but if we are to encourage a free and democratic society, then everyone has the right to their own views and opinions.
Civil society is pushing towards democratisation and the different views and perspectives put forward are crucial towards the building of a mature society. So, we have no problems against any of that.
However, when we came across the official statement from the university student representatives, Persatuan Mahasiswa UKM (PMUKM) President En.Hamzah and he urged us to be more “professional”, “patient” and “mature” in facing the charges spearheaded by the university administration without stating their stand on this issue affecting their own students. Their not taking a clear stand on this is quite disappointing, considering that they are the highest body of student representatives in the university.
Azlin, Ismail: The statement goes on in dramatic fashion about how we have “brought tears to our parents” and “lose focus on our studies and disappoint our loved ones.” But we are all top scorers and we have the complete support of our parents. (LB: All four have been Dean Listed in at least one semester)
King Chai: Well, we believe that the current board of PMUKM representatives have gone slightly off-track in terms of fulfilling the philosophy or the objectives of a student council, which is to represent the needs of the students and to assist the students in any troubles that they may face.
Ismail: We also feel that the student council have lost it’s function as a “third force” within the university to spearhead change and reform at university level as well as to lead the students toward fulfilling their potential as future members of the society.
Azlin: I’ve participated actively in PALAPES since my first year. Unlike other students in the university, my 3 years of officer training will be in lieu of co-curricular subjects that other students have to take as electives.
This means there is a chance of being expelled from my unit if any disciplinary action is taken. If that happened, I will have to re-sit 4 semesters worth of co-curricular subjects in order to graduate.
King Chai: We could face a fine or suspension of rights or expulsion. For me, a warning alone will strip me off my scholarship.
King Chai: We have now dragged this whole issue to the public and we have also been actively involved in campus activism as part of the Pro-Mahasiswa “faction” and some quarters equate that with being anti-establishment. Though I must stress that that is far from accurate.
King Chai: We need to our youngsters freedom to think in order for them to have the ability to think. The university wants to control us. The youth has been restricted – our movement, our thinking, our voice. Where is our freedom?
Hilman: Looking at the restrictions in UUCA, it doesn’t allow students the freedom to make decisions. These students will go on to be our future leaders. Effectively we will have leaders that have never made decisions and will only be learning how to do so once they are leaders.
That is the reason for the poor quality of graduates nowadays that everyone is complaining about. If you are to be the future leader, you must have maturity and that comes in part from experience. For example, if you are a political science undergraduate and you have never been to a by-election, what’s the point?
Ismail: The UUCA is one of the reasons the younger generation has such a low level of participation in voting and so many are not registered as voters yet. Students are afraid to voice their opinion and are so used to being “not involved.”
Hilman: The youth movement is about creating awareness. With awareness, comes knowledge and empowerment and this creates a thinking society – one that can think for itself and not be easily manipulated or controlled.
Students are also what I’d term juru bicara masyarakat. Between or a politician, who is more believable when you go to a kampong to speak to the locals there? The student, because we are not bound by obligations nor do we have any personal interests vested in our activism; we have zero political interests to serve.
The youth fight on principle. And the people know this. So the government is trying to put a lid on us.
The UKM 4: The KL High Court has set the inter-partes hearing on 17 June 2010 (tomorrow) to decide on the merit of our injunction. If the court decides that the injunction should stay, then the university cannot proceed with any disciplinary proceedings until the constitutionality of Section 15(5)(a) can be determined.
As our lawyers’ said, take everything at a 50/50 chance and let us all hope for the best. So yes we do have faith in the Malaysian judiciary.