Student activist Asheeq Ali has been suspended from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) after its disciplinary board today found him guilty of participating in the TangkapMO1 rally last August.
Asheeq told Malaysiakini that the one-semester suspension was served with immediate effect, despite the fact that he was due to sit for his final examinations next month.
“The disciplinary hearing started at 9am this morning and the decision was made by about 10am.
“They (the disciplinary board) made the decision to suspend me as they said I have contravened the law,” said Asheeq, in reference to the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
The third-year law student, however, said he had argued that he was never charged in court for any offences under the act.
“I told them I was investigated but never charged. They said, to them it does not matter (whether charged or otherwise),” said Asheeq who is now the secretary-general of student coalition Kesatuan Mahasiswa Malaysia (KMM).
Commenting further, Asheeq said he would now go through the internal appeal process, before deciding if there was a need to pursue other legal avenues.
“I will file an appeal and they have 14 days to respond,” he added.
In an immediate reaction, PKR central committee member Fahmi Zainol in a statement condemned Asheeq’s suspension, raising questions over the students' rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.
“The people are puzzled and confused when MO1 is still free and (appears to be) invincible from being hauled to court, but students demanding justice are being victimised,” said Fahmi who heads the PKR Youth students bureau.
Universiti Malaya had last month also served show-cause letters to KMM’s chairperson Anis Syafiqah and three other students for their participation in the Aug 27 rally.
At the time, the students had argued that any disciplinary action over their participation in the rally would be mala fide (in bad faith) as new amendments to the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA) clearly allow off-campus political activity.
The rally was organised following the United States Department of Justice's court filing which said that 'Malaysian Official 1' received US$731 million that originated from 1MDB.
MO1 is a code name used in the civil suit and critics insisted it could only refer to prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, despite top local authorities having cleared him of all wrongdoings.- Mkini