In Zen & the Half-Past-Six University I lamented how UPM’s vice-chancellor Prof Dr Nik Mustapha had failed in his duties to bring to account several thuggish undergraduates in his university.
Worse, he even quoted a so-called (internal, of course) investigating committee that the victims were equally responsible for the fracas. Prof Dr Nik danced around the tulips to avoid answering whether ‘there were acts of thuggery and aggressive intimidation, and did a univeristy security guard participate in the bullying?'
He even refused to removed one of the thugs, UPM student representative council leader Abdul Manaf Ariffin from his council position. His pathetic response was that Abdul Manaf’s term as the council leader was finishing. As one Malaysiakini reader asked of the VC:
“Your answer was that their term of office is coming to an end and thus implying that no actions need to be taken. So by simple extension, if a bank manager is caught misappropriating fund and about to retire, then no action is to be taken too because his term as manager is coming to an end. I really cannot believe such a stupid statement could come from a man of your standing, Mr VC.”
What 'standing'? You meant 'appointment'. A person may be 'appointed' but it doesn't necessarily mean he has 'standing'. He has to earn that.
Human rights group Suaram has also expressed its disgust at the UPM whitewash by calling on the Ministry of Higher Education to sack Prof Dr Nik. Suaram said the VC was in a state of total denial when it referred to Mustapha’s incredulous remark that the students were “merely singing, cheering and not shouting” when asked to explain the video recording.
It said: “The video clip clearly showed that those students did shout, heckle, intimidate and manhandle the SPF members.”
It's just incredulous that a univeristy VC wanted to protect the culprits of a bullying thuggish incident and at the same time demonise the student-victims. Is it a university for samseng (thugs)?
Suaram said it was ‘gravely concerned’ over the manner in which the committee, comprising five UPM lecturers, had investigated the case.
“How could one expect five subordinates of the vice-chancellor to investigate and perform their duty without fear or favour.”
Suaram accused the committee of posing ‘leading questions’ to the victims when they were testifying.
It said: “They were asked to explain why SPF [the victims] had set up a service counter without getting permission from the authority and why they refused to leave when they were ordered to, instead of investigating how they were intimidated and victimised.”
Indeed, why focus on peripheral issues like administrative matters when manhandling, intimidation and bullying had occurred? What about the more important issues of thuggery among undergraduates? Should such barbaric violence be condoned in a university, a so-called centre of higher learning?
That’s why I consider UPM as nothing more than a ‘half-past-six’ university. And don’t forget, this was the same university that produced the so-called ethnic relation textbook that acting Law Minister, Nazri, had termed as a seditious publication and a piece of rubbish that should be withdrawn. It was nothing more than a textual manifestation of racial bias by so-called academicians from the half-past-six university.
Regrettably this is Malaysia, and we won’t ever get to see any decent standards of propriety in the university. Those people shouldn't have been appointed in the first place, and despite their shameful exhibition of shamless bias, won’t get sacked. Those young thugs won’t get expelled or even ticked off - they will now believe they have a 'right' to perpetuate their behaviour of violent intimidation.
I reckon we may expect more of the same from UPM.