ricecooker note: This artwork was used at a protest at the parliament recently. Read Below.
‘I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know’
Beh Lih Yi
Sep 17, 05 5:03pm
Higher Education Minister Dr Shafie Salleh has claimed that he has no knowledge of matters related to the upcoming campus elections which has been tainted with allegations of scare tactics and biased rules.
At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur late yesterday afternoon, the minister who oversees all 17 public universities was unable to answer questions linked to the campus elections which are expected to be held early October.
Below are excerpts from the press conference:
Malaysiakini: When are the campus elections?
Shafie: Campus elections? I don’t know, you better ask the vice-chancellors.
You are the minister who is supposed to announce the date because it is your prerogative.
No, I’m not announcing it.
But the student representative councils’ one-year term is over and it’s time for elections.
(The) officials (will) announce it.
There are many reports of (anti-establishment) students being threatened and harassed on campuses.
I don’t know, the reports didn’t come to me.
There are also allegations of interference by Umno in the campus elections.
I don’t know.
Prior to the press conference, the minister’s aide told reporters not to ask any questions related to the campus polls.
Series of cases
Campus elections are divided by partisan politics where ‘pro-establishment’ teams are believed to be sponsored by university authorities with the government’s backing.
The rival faction is usually seen as leaning towards the opposition.
Campus polls are also keenly observed by politicians particularly Umno and PAS as it allows them to gauge the support of students for their various political parties.
Earlier this week, malaysiakini reported a series of secret meetings in early July which brought together top university officials, Umno representatives and ‘pro-establishment’ student leaders. It was coordinated by Shafie’s ministry.
The meetings were held to strategise for the government-backed teams’ success ahead of the annual campus elections.
It is learnt that Umno Youth and Puteri Umno representatives were present during the meetings held at the Umno headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
‘Anti-establishment’ university students have complained of their rooms being raided at midnight without valid reasons.
Posing a threat
Recently, a Universiti Sains Malaysia female student was held to facilitate investigations for allegedly “posing a threat to the hostel harmony”.
Yesterday, a Universiti Malaya student filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia alleging assault, threat and verbal abuse by an assistant registrar of the university’s student affairs division.
Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia students, meanwhile, cried foul over a new ruling this year requiring students to pass a ‘public speaking test’ and an interview before they can contest in the campus election.
UIAM is a known traditional stronghold of ‘anti-establishment’ students.
A students’ coalition has called for the immediate dissolution of all student representatives councils to pave way for the campus elections given the expiry of the one-year term on Sept 15.
Students demand fair campus polls in protest outside Parliament
Beh Lih Yi
Sep 21, 05 7:53pm
About 200 university students held a 90-minute peaceful protest outside the Parliament building today demanding for fairplay during the upcoming campus elections.
The students held placards with caricatures of the Higher Education Minister Dr Shafie Salleh, that were peppered with the words such as, ‚Äòblur‚Äô and ‚ÄòI don‚Äôt know‚Äô, in reference to the minister‚Äôs recent comments on the campus elections.
They also unfurled a banner that read ‘Students demand for clean campus election, free campus’, while sporadic chants of ‚Äòstudent power‚Äô was heard a few times.
The event was organised by a student coalition under the name ‚ÄòMalaysia Students Solidarity‚Äô.
The group was unable to handover a memorandum to the minister this morning, as the minister was attending the weekly cabinet meeting.
Parliamentary secretary to the ministry Dr Adham Baba and Shafie‚Äôs aides later met with the group. After some haggling, Adham agreed to hold a meeting with five of the group‚Äôs representatives.
A closed door meeting was then held, while Adham‚Äôs aide promised to organise a press conference later. Another aide turned away reporters from the meeting room.
However after the meeting ended, the aide told reporters there is no need for a press conference and reporters were unable to reach Adham for comment.
One of the representatives present at the meeting, Ginie Lim, described the meeting as ‚Äúdisappointing‚Äù as she said Adham did not satisfactorily answer their queries.
‚ÄúThe meeting only lasted about five minutes, he didn‚Äôt give any statement and said he has no right to give comments on behalf of the minister,‚Äù she told reporters.
According to Lim, Adham also referred to a case where an University Malaya student was assaulted by an university official, as an ‚Äúisolated case‚Äù.
Lim who also acts as the group‚Äôs secretary, added that Adham received the memorandum from the group and said the ministry was still in the midst of finalising the date for campus elections.
On Tuesday, Universiti Sains Malaysia has announced that the nomination has been fixed for next Monday, while polling day will be held on Thursday.
While other universities have not issued any notice, campus elections in all 17 local universities were traditionally held simultaneously.