Published: 2 October 2014
Law professor Dr Azmi Sharom (centre) at a parking lot outside UKM, after being denied entry into the university. – Pic courtesy of Jun Keong Lee, October 2, 2014.Law professor Dr Azmi Sharom (centre) at a parking lot outside UKM, after being denied entry into the university. – Pic courtesy of Jun Keong Lee, October 2, 2014.A programme aimed at raising awareness on the hazards of the Sedition Act turned into a “life lesson” for Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) students after the invited speaker, law lecturer Associate Professor Dr Azmi Sharom, was “chased out” of the venue by security guards.
Azmi, who was charged with sedition on September 2, had been invited by Gabungan Mahasiswa UKM (GMUKM) to officiate an anti-sedition act movement and speak with the students on the colonial-era law at UKM’s campus in Bangi last night.
But the night took a strange twist when the Universiti Malaya law professor discovered multiple roadblocks mounted on campus to prevent him and the media from attending the event.
”One of the organisers picked me up at the entrance and told me we had to enter on foot due to the roadblocks,” Azmi told The Malaysian Insider.
“So we sneaked into the campus, only to be chased out by the guards when we reached the venue. They didn’t give any reason. They just said that the university management had ‘haramkan’ (banned) the event.
“Hundreds of students had already arrived at the venue, but the guards politely and adamantly told me to leave.
“So we congregated at a parking lot outside the campus, and I gave a speech for about 20 minutes as it was just really hot and dark and uncomfortable and it was getting late.”
Despite this, Azmi laughed off the experience, saying that it was a good “life lesson” for the students on how far authorities would go to stifle their freedom of expression.
“It’s certainly more interesting than anything I could have taught them if the programme had gone on smoothly.”
The UKM event poster featuring Azmi Sharom. – Pic courtesy of Jun Keong Lee, October 2, 2014.The UKM event poster featuring Azmi Sharom. – Pic courtesy of Jun Keong Lee, October 2, 2014.Earlier that night, attempts by The Malaysian Insider to enter the premise and cover the programme were futile as guards were on the alert for any media presence and had set up multiple roadblocks.
“We have orders from the vice-chancellor to prevent any media from entering the university tonight,” a guard at the entrance of the varsity, where the first roadblock was set up, told The Malaysian Insider.
“Even this speaker is not supposed to enter, as there are fears he will incite the students and commit sedition tonight,” he added, pointing to the photograph of Azmi in a poster of the programme.
A copy of the poster held by the guards had the words “no media allowed inside” scribbled in handwriting at the top.
The programme had not been approved by the university, the guard told The Malaysian Insider, adding that the GMUKM was an “opposition group”.
Police were also present on campus as cars slowly came into the premise, each one inspected at the multiple roadblocks set up every few hundred metres apart.
The Malaysian Insider was forced to turn away at the second roadblock, after a police officer confirmed that the programme had been cancelled and the roadblocks were mounted to prevent media coverage.
When contacted, GMUKM member Jason Ng said that their application to hold the dinner programme had been rejected by the university, but they still wanted to go on with it.
“You know how it’s like… when we try to invite people like Professor Azmi, they feel it’s not suitable, they won’t allow it,” he said.
Last month, Azmi was charged under Section 4(1)(b) and Section 4(1)(c) of the act over his comments in a news article titled “Take Perak crisis route for speedy end to Selangor impasse, Pakatan told.”
If convicted under either charges, he will face a maximum fine of RM5,000 or jailed up to three years, or both. – October 2, 2014.
– See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/azmi-sharom-chased-out-from-ukm-campus#sthash.wR5CxMJc.dpuf