Lee Song Yong, a student in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), is battling with the varsity to get back his notebook that security staff confiscated in August.
UPM on the other hand is seeking disciplinary action against Lee. They may punish him for not cooperating with the staff during the incident.
I don’t like seeing lawyers and politicians meddling in university affairs. But I also hate the lack of clarity with local varsities when handling various issues.
I’m a graduate of local university. Security check was part of life especially after night. The intention, at least on paper, was alright. It’s a safety net to protect university properties and students who stayed in campus dormitories.
However, do universities expect students to just hand over their belongings when told to do so? Especially expensive stuff like mobile phones and laptops.
And do universities have enough reasons to seize personal properties? Do they have any authority to do so under Malaysian law to begin with?
It’s common to have student IDs checked, but me and my friends never had belongings seized during my days. And frankly if I was in Lee’s shoes I would ask lots of questions and require the personnel to show cause too.
Politics & education
Politics and education don’t mix in Malaysia. It sounds ridiculous but undergraduates in Malaysian universities are not allowed to actively involved in politics. And that’s despite the fact that many of them are old enough to vote in general election.
UPM didn’t mention this boldly but Lee was probably targeted for political reasons. Judging from how he’s fighting the case he’s probably involved in politics instead. I mean, student getting help from lawyer over petty issue? Come on.
However, it’s not a good enough reason to seize the notebook and hold it for months. Furthermore UPM didn’t find anything wrong inside the computer. There are no probable cause for all these to happen, and they are clearly in the wrong.
Lee was initially suspended for one semester for “obstructing campus officers from performing their duty.” The sentence was reduced to a RM200 fine after an appeal in January 2008. Justified or not it’s probably wise to accept the deal.
Although it’s probably within their rights to issue punishment, shouldn’t UPM apologise for making a mistake at the first place? Guess that’s not happening.