Academics condemn attack on UM students by ‘racist hooligans’

Danial Dzulkifly
Students protest Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s meet-and-greet session in front of Restoran Amjal near Universiti Malaya in Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — The Malaysian Academic Movement (MOVE) today condemned the alleged attack on six Universiti Malaya (UM) students yesterday by supporters of Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Stating that the students were merely exercising their constitutional right to assembly and freedom of expression, MOVE said the provocation and subsequent physical altercation caused by Najib’s supporters were uncalled for.

MOVE also called out the perpetrators for conflating the student’s rights to express their criticisms of Najib as a means to insult the Malay community.

“In the process, and in typical racist hooligan’s style, Najib’s supporters played the racial card by spinning the UM’s students criticism of their boss as ‘menghina orang Melayu’ (insulting the Malays).

“This we condemn as outright stupid, cowardly and racist. The students were clearly and only criticising Najib.

By no stretch of any normal person’s imagination could this be construed as ‘insulting the Malays’. They were expressing their disapproval of a man who himself could be construed as having insulted his race, religion and country,” said MOVE in a statement.

MOVE also demanded a stop to such thuggery and racially-charged actions and urged the authorities to take action against those responsible.

“We call upon the authorities to not detain and further harass the innocent party, the students. Instead, swift action must be taken against the real wrongdoers — those who manhandled and verbally abused the UM students.

“We also call upon Minister of Education, Dr Maszlee Malik, and the entire academic fraternity to show solidarity with the six UM students. We should not allow any form of thuggery and racism to undermine our academic freedom and constitutional rights,” said MOVE.

Maszlee, in a tweet, had condemned the attack and stated that “thugs, extremist and terrorist” have no place in universities.

“I am sad, disappointed and felt regret over what had happened in UM.

“Universities are open intellectual territories. A place for us to discuss, debate, to converse and convene in an open and safe manner

“But it is not a place for thugs, extremists and terrorists,’’ he said.

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