Petitioner to remove Najib’s portrait in UK varsity facing online threats

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When Cassandra Chung posted a petition for Nottingham University in the United Kingdom to remove its poster of Datuk Seri Najib Razak over his silence on the RM2.6 billion donation, she was counting on getting 100 signatures at most. But in three days, the law student received almost 4,000 signatures to back her motion to be submitted to the University of Nottingham Malaysian Society. “We’ve already submitted the motion and as of now, we will not be withdrawing it,” Chung told The Malaysian Insider, when asked on the status of her motion. “Right now, we are waiting on the Malaysian Society to approve the motion for debate at next week’s AGM (annual general meeting).” But Chung said while the Malaysian Society was “incredibly open to most of the members’ suggestions for most times”, she was unsure whether it would accept the motion, given the pressure that it must be under to remain neutral. She added that she was only a regular member of the society, although she tried to run for welfare secretary once. Nevertheless, the undergraduate was ecstatic over the overwhelming response to the petition uploaded on March 8. “When the petition was in the drafting stage, I was told a couple of times that the petition may not get a lot of support. So when it was started, the hope was for at least a 100 signatures. “So imagine everybody’s surprise (including Justin and I) when we reached 1,000 in less than 24 hours and when various press portals picked up on the petition,” said Chung, referring to the motion’s seconder, Justin Ong. Courting backlash But the fame has not gone unnoticed. Chung said she faced online threats and apparently caught the attention of the authorities. “About two or three hours after the petition came up, I was informed by a committee member of the Nottingham Malaysian Society that the High Commission (of Malaysia in Singapore) was looking for my number. “I was shaking to the point I ended up getting only two hours of sleep that night.” But she said the high commission had yet to contact her and friends assured her that they probably just wanted to give her “an hour long lecture”. “Apparently, somebody told me the petition managed to stress (out) Education Malaysia, Kelab Umno and the high commission.” Meanwhile, a Facebook user, who goes by the name Ab Jalil Backer, urged social media users to provide him information on Chung’s family. Calling the petition an “unacceptable insult to the country”, Jalil said he wanted to see how “pure” Chung’s family were. “For a Malaysian student to come up with this petition to an overseas university and make accusations that she herself is unsure are true is treason towards the country,” he said. “One day, it is not impossible that when she returns, she will sabotage her own country if she does not agree with the leaders.” Chung said her first reaction upon reading Jalil’s post was to laugh at how he had misunderstood her petition. “The way he wrote everything was as if I was asking Najib to resign, when, if read carefully, all I want is for him to answer truthfully to the allegations,” said Chung. But she said fear set in later – not for herself, but for her family, who may now find their personal details laid bare on the Internet. Jalil’s post also attracted comments accusing Chung of being “ungrateful” and urging the government to strip her of her citizenship so she could “rot” overseas. Some comments focused on her ethnicity, even though Jalil urged them not to be racist. “Bangsa ni memang ramai tak sedar diri..asal keturunan merempat kat tanah melayu skrang kadok nak junjung,” said Mariati Radwan. (Many from this race are not self-aware. They originally came to Malaya as homeless people but now they think they’re so special.) “Walaupun bumputra mempunyai hak istimewa di bumi Malaysia, tetapi orang2 kaya Malaysia dimonopoli orang Cina. Demokrasi macam mana lagi orang Cina mahu?” asked Nizar Hashim. (Even though Bumiputeras have special rights, the nation’s wealth is monopolised by the Chinese. What kind of democracy do they want?) Chung’s best friend came to her aid and listed Jalil’s Facebook friends to block. Chung said she would also like to thank former student activist, Fahmi Zainol, who publicly criticised Jalil for dragging her family into the issue. “While I am still worried, I think small acts like that… that kind of support shown doesn’t make it so bad. “Other people have been very supportive in their own ways and I think that has eased the fear substantially, knowing there will be people who will have my and my family’s back.” Injustice, not politics She also hoped people would not interpret her cause as “Pakatan Harapan trying to bring down Najib”. “The focus here is on the Malaysian community as a whole (not just in Nottingham but also back home) who should be taking more initiative to speak out. “I do hope this petition has inspired more to speak out on issues of injustice.” In an update posted to the petition earlier today, Chung urged the signatories to get more people on board, saying that this would increase the chances that the society would pay attention to it. “As for the supporters of this petition, if you do come across any threat, I do strongly urge all of you to respond with rationality and compassion rather than retaliate with sharp words.” – March 12, 2016.

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