KUALA LUMPUR: Police have recorded statements from 26 people in connection with last Friday’s scuffle when students demonstrating against Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak were allegedly manhandled by the former prime minister’s supporters.
“We have also received 11 police reports over the incident.
“We will hand over the investigation paper (IP) to the Deputy Public Prosecutor office (today) and wait for the next course of action,” said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun in a joint press conference with Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at Police Training Centre (Pulapol).
The students were demonstrating near Universiti Malaya, across the street of a restaurant where Najib was speaking.
A video of the scuffle showed Najib’s supporters, including Umno supreme council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam, accosting the students who were behind a railing.
Student Wong Yan Ke, from the University of Malaya Association of New Youth, was allegedly manhandled during the incident.
Two interns from news portal Malaysiakini were also said to have been harassed by the same group of Najib supporters.
Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) condemned the alleged incident as it was a peaceful protest.
Its vice-chancellor Prof Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim said violence should not be used against those expressing different opinions and ideology.
“Violence is not only against the norm of a democratic community but is also against the Malay Muslim culture.
“It is also an offence under the law.
“The freedom of the academic and student population to debate intellectually on issues of public interest is part of the learning process as long as laws are not flouted,” he said in a statement.
UiTM supports the government’s move to provide more space for students to speak up within the confines of the law.
The Education Ministry Higher Education Department said it regretted any harsh acts and fully reject attempts to restrict students’ freedom of speech.
The department, in a statement, said students were allowed to voice their opinions as per the cancellation (pembatalan) of Section 15(2) of the Universities and University Colleges Act (AUKU) 1971, Paragraph 47(2)(c) of the Private Higher Education Act (Act 555) 1996 and Paragraph 10(2)(c) of the Educational Institutions (Discipline) Act 1976 last December.
The students had staged a protest last Friday by holding placards that read “Najib tak malu” (Najib is shameless) and “Mana RM2.6bil?” (Where is the RM2.6bil?), as well as a big cut-out of a caricature of the former premier as a clown.
The confrontation quickly turned aggressive as his supporters snatched the placards away from the students.
Najib’s supporters then held one of the students in a reverse chokehold, grabbed his hair and hit him.
Several men were seen calling sabar (patience) and separated the two groups before the students retreated.
“Higher education institutions need to nurture student empowerment in order to empower the nation’s higher education,” said the department.
“Differences in opinion, ideology, and views should not be used as a reason to attack anyone.
“Tolerance and respect are part of Malaysia’s multicultural society and cannot be pawned for the benefit of certain parties.”