And guess what? All this thanks to the Internet. First we have Malaysiakini breaking the news on the "guidebook" and then, we have the fracas videoclip circulating like wildfire via YouTube.com. And all attempts by the relevant parties to defend, explain away and cover up the relevant facts and incidents were torn to shreds like a single ply tissue paper. But lets get back to the topic, we aren't here to discuss the socio-political impact of the Internet in Malaysia. :)
Have you ever wondered how come so many of our "youths" in political organisations have a tendency to behave like thugs whenever there are parties who don't share their sentiments? There was the incident where Umno Youth-led mob of 400 men - calling themselves the Malaysian Peoples’ Action Front - stormed Kuala Lumpur’s Asia Hotel and went on a rampage in the bid to stop the Second Asia-Pacific Conference on East Timor, also known as Apcet II. The the culprits got away with barely a slap on the wrist.
Some of you might separately remember that another 200 or so UMNO Youth members demonstrated in front of the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (SCAH) in Kuala Lumpur over Suqiu’s 17-point "extremist" Election Appeal. On this occasion, the noisy, provocative demonstrators even threatened to burn down the SCAH.
Then, recently there was the case of another bunch of 50 thugs from the same organisation sent a threatening ultimatum to MCA member of Parliament, Loh Seng Kok for raising valid and seemingly straightforward questions in parliament (blogged here).
As P Ramakrishnan argued in his article in Aliran:
It is rather unfortunate – even regrettable – that the Kelana Jaya division was not ticked off by UMNO or the government for acting brashly. And because this was not done, these agitators get the impression that their deplorable conduct is endorsed and even encouraged by the leadership. The general public perceives this non-action by the government as not only condoning thuggery but also reflecting fear of taking disciplinary action against recalcitrant members whose support they need to remain in power.Where did all these thugs pick up their skills? Now we know. There is no better place to train our thugs but at our premier institutions of higher learning.
Once again, we have Malaysiakini to thank for being first to publish the report on the controversial incident.
Students Progressive Front (SPF) member Wong Chai Yi claimed she was shoved so hard by members of the university student council, that she fell. She said the incident occurred on Monday when five members of her group set up a ‘help counter’ at 6.30pm at a hostel to provide information on their activities to new undergraduates and offer advice to those with problems.The sequence of event which followed is best captured at Sdr Lim Kit Siang's blog (I just couldn't keep up with him! :)). First, there was just silence from the university and ministry authorities. Then there were the meek attempts to pass the buck and demonstrate "actions" taken. MageP's Lab also had a good account of the events before today.
Wong told malaysiakini that about 40 students - led by the council president - surrounded her group members and scolded them harshly for setting up the counter when the SPF is not a registered group.
“He told us to leave within 10 minutes, saying he did not want any trouble, but we refused to go. They surrounded us and removed our brochures, tables and chairs, and our belongings, to force us to leave... While doing so, they shouted at us and pushed us out of the way. A security guard witnessed this - instead of stopping them, he joined them in pushing us.”
That was followed by the most farcical of actions taken by the university authorities, led by the vice-chancellor of UPM itself, Prof Dr Nik Mustapha R Abdullah. He has clearly demonstrated that as long as the actions of thuggery is conducted by "pro-establishment" students to "protect" pro-establishment interests, the university authorities will do its best to protect and absolve these students of blame.
UPM’s student representative council president Abdul Manaf Ariffin, one of the leading culprits identified in the videoclip, and its treasurer Alex Yong shook hands at a hastily arranged press conference by the vice-chancellor providing the ‘evidence and reality of racial integration’ in UPM. Read the additional Malaysiakini report for the flip-flops and the pathetic attempts to dodge pertinent questions by the journalists by Prof Dr Nik Mustapha. Putting it simply:
“It is funny how the students who attacked us shook hands among themselves besides the attempt to blame the scuffles as a racial issue. The core of the matter is that the university is suppressing students from carrying out activities on campus,” said [Simon Ooi], a 22-year-old third-year student.The good thing is before the farcical fiasco could go any further, Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, our Minister of Higher Education got the university to set up an "inquiry panel" as headlined by the Sun today. The committee will comprise of Ethics course lecturer Prof Dr Abdul Rahman Aroff, lecturers Prof Dr Kamariah Abu Bakar (Education), Associate Prof Dr Tai Shzee Yew (Economy), Dr Mohd Bakri Ishak (Law) and Dr S. Vijayaletchumy (Languages).
So the question now, as rightly asked by Sdr Lim, is whether the parties guilty of mob rule led by Abdul Manaf Ariffin will be awarded their first class honours degree in Thuggery with a light slap on the wrist, while the victims unjustly punished or otherwise. We will have to wait and see.