Monday, October 17, 2005

Student takes UIA to court over campus polls

Beh Lih

In an unprecedented move, a Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) student today filed a legal suit against his university and wants the court to cancel the upcoming campus elections. Mozahiri Shamsuddin, a final-year human science student, filed the suit at the Kuala Lumpur High Court via Mohamed Hanipa & Associates.

He is also seeking for a judicial review on a Sept 8 notice issued by the UIA Students Representative Council’s Election Commission pertaining to election rules. The campus polls is slated for next Thursday.

Apart from declaring the notice unlawful, Mozahiri also wants the court to fix a new date for the polls as well as to declare the Election Commission an unlawful body and thus powerless to manage the elections. In his nine-page affidavit, the student said the formation of the Election Commission was not provided in any law. The campus' Election Commission is headed by the deputy vice-chancellor who oversees the student affairs department besides comprising other university officials.

Mozahiri also questioned several election rules that were introduced for the coming polls which he said were illegitimate as they denied an individual's rights as guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. He said the amendment of the academic requirement for a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 2.8 - set for this year's candidates - was not officially proposed to the board of student affairs or tabled at the students representative council annual general meeting. The CGPA was set at 2.5 last year. Candidates vying for a seat on the student representative council must meet this requirement to be eligible to contest in the polls. Other conditions stated in the university’s notice were: A candidate must possess good proficiency of the English language and that he or she must ‘understand the university’s expectations as well as appreciate the government’s aspirations, not only by understanding but through actions’.

Mozahiri also questioned the new rules which required aspiring candidates to pass an English public speaking test and interview session under the supervision of university officials. According to him, these rules were not issued by a legitimate body but the unlawful Election Commission. He said the rules contradicted the students representative council’s constitution and went against the equality principle as provided under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution. “These rules are unreasonable, illogical, unfair and oppressive from every perspective. They are unconstitutional because the right to association under the Federal Constitution has became meaningless, ineffective and illusory,” read the affidavit.

Although Mohaziri was not present in court today, some 60 UIA students turned up to show their support.

Met later, his lawyer Mohamed Hanipa bin Maidin (far left) said his client had the blessings of his parents and students to file the suit.He also hoped that the university would not take any disciplinary action against Mohaziri. “The issue involves public interest, we hope the university will come to court and rebut the statements made in the affidavit.“This is the first time a student is taking campus elections to court,” he said, adding that an injunction will be filed on Monday to stop the polls. Also present were lawyers Mohd Fadzli Mohd Ramli and Abdullah Abdul Karim.

In a related development, PAS Youth submitted a memorandum to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) today on the alleged abuse of power and violation of democracy by campus authorities in the run-up to the campus elections. The memorandum also contained documents and media reports on the interference of the government, namely Umno, in the campus polls.The five-page memorandum was handed over by PAS Youth secretary Ahmad Sabki Yusuf to Suhakam commissioner N Siva Subramaniam, who promised to look into the cases.
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1 comment:

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