Media Statement by Tan Hong Pin in Johor Bahru on
Wednesday, 7th January 2009:
Detention of USM students and
campus elections in varsities
Democratic Action Party Socialist
Youth (DAPSY) Varsity Affairs Bureau Director Tan Hong Pin issued a
statement today urging the management of University Sains Malaysia (USM)
to conduct campus elections in a free and fair manner.
Tan also prompted the Higher Education Ministry to direct all public
universities to safeguard independence in campus elections in order to
prevent similar incidents from occurring in their campuses.
Tan was referring to the incident on January 5 in which three USM
students of the ‘Pro-Mahasiswa’ group were forcefully detained in the
campus security department for two hours for distributing leaflets for
the upcoming campus elections.
According to the three students, they were harassed by supporters of an
opposing group while distributing leaflets in the campus hostel. This
other group of students also brought in security guards who then
harassed detained them for two hours. Two of the detained students also
suffered head and arm injuries.
The victims felt that the ordeal was akin to being kidnapped. If there
were no witnesses at the scene, they could have been taken away without
being noticed and would have been in serious danger.
Tan said that the incident clearly indicated that the security guards
were being partial in carrying out their duties. The fact that they
could be called upon by the other group of students, coupled with their
violent treatment of the victims, shows that they have no sense of
objectivity and justice.
Tan pointed out that campus elections were supposed to be important
avenues in which students could freely vote for their preferred student
representatives without being intimidated.
However, over the past year there had been many instances of
interference in the democratic process of campus elections by university
authorities. Students have repeatedly condemned the authorities of
abusing administrative powers and employing phantom voters to prevent
candidates without its own blessing from running for office and from
winning the elections.
“When necessary, the Higher Education Ministry must order the
universities’ management to stop any political interference in campus
elections”, Tan said.
“The ministry should also allow independent non-government organisations
or observers from outside the universities to oversee the electoral
process, in order to restore credibility to the university as well as to
the elected student representative council”, he added.
* Tan Hong Pin, DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY)
Varsity Affairs Bureau Director