Malaysian universities have threatened to take disciplinary action against students who attend this weekend’s Bersih 4.0 anti-government rally, which they claim is illegal.
Bernama reported that public universities vice-chancellor/rector committee chairperson Kamarudin Hussin has warned that students could be suspended or expelled from their universities if they attend.
“Students should stay away from being used by certain parties or organisations not recognised by the government and should instead, concentrate on their studies,” he said.
Malaysiakini reported that some universities, including Universiti Teknologi Mara and the University of Malaya, have also warned students against attending the Bersih rally.
One senior academic at a well known Malaysian university, who asked not to be named, told Asian Correspondent that a circular was issued to members of staff forbidding them from attending the rally.
Former higher education deputy minister Saifuddin Abdullah hit back at the universities Wednesday, saying students are fully entitled to attend the demonstratations if they are peaceful.
“Some university leaders are acting like Umno leaders. That’s very unfortunate. You don’t have to make a statement that you bar students from attending Bersih 4,” he said.
“It is really up to them (the students). It is their right to attend.
“So long as they don’t get themselves involved in anything violent and anything that is unconstitutional, they have the same rights as anyone else.”
The Bersih 4.0 rally, which is due to take place in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday and Sunday, has not been officially sanctioned by authorities. It is due to begin at 2pm Saturday, and run until midnight Sunday.
Simultaneous rallies will take place in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said the rally will go ahead as planned, despite not receiving police permission.
Nothing in the agenda of #Bersih4 is to topple the government or the PM, but to push for reforms to fix a broken system. The best response by the government would be to join & support this. Those “Kung-fool” masters who are set to oppose this are essentially endorsing corrupt practices under the pretence of peace. A photo posted by Aaron Kee (@aaron.kee) on
Rally organizers have insisted that the action is not attempt to bring down the government or Prime Minister Najib Razak, but to push for reform of what it calls a broken system.
Bersih 4.0’s five demands are: Free and fair elections; A transparent government; The right to demonstrate; Strengthening the parliamentary democracy system; Saving the national economy.
(READ MORE: The unfortunate case of Malaysia’s prime minister)