In a statement to FMT, UM vice-chancellor Prof Mohd Amin Jalaludin said the investigation into the lecturer was still ongoing and “progressing as planned”.
“The university is taking all measures deemed proper, which include the formation of a preliminary panel of investigation to find evidence and basis on the complaint, an external panel and other steps as prescribed.
“Based on the recommendation by the investigative panel, the lecturer involved has been relieved of her duty to conduct lectures for the class involved.”
He added this recommendation was to ensure that the investigation could run its full course.
Amin also urged the public to refrain from making speculations on the case, pending the completion of its investigation.
“UM does not condone any act or behaviour that is deemed racist or prejudicial. Strict and swift action as prescribed by our law, rules and regulations will be taken.”
On Feb 17, the two students, Lalitha Sudeshna and her friend Rinishah, were said to be in class when the professor told them not to sit together.
In a Facebook post demanding an apology from the lecturer, Lalitha said the professor had told them: “India, saya tak suka India duduk bersama-sama. Jangan bawa budaya Unitar kesini. India duduk sama-sama lepas itu akan tiru assignment dan plagiarise. Saya kenal India. (I don’t like Indians sitting together. Don’t bring the Unitar culture here. If Indians sit together, they will copy assignments and plagiarise. I know Indians.)”
Lalitha said the professor had also said: “Saya akan pastikan awak dan kawan awak tak akan dapat kumpulan sama untuk buat assignment. Saya tahu India macam mana.” (“I will make sure you and your friend are not in the same group for assignments. I know what Indians are like.”)
The Facebook post quickly went viral, with many criticising the professor’s behaviour and expressing support for the students.
Following this, Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan said the university had formed a five-member panel to investigate the allegation.
Kamalanathan also said he had contacted Amin for clarification.