17-hour UMS water protest ends

We want water: UMS students demonstrating outside Menara Kinabalu in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. — Bernama

KOTA KINABALU: Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) students ended their 17-hour camp-out opposite Menara Kinabalu yesterday morning after it became apparent that their demand to meet Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor would not be heeded.

The #KamiMahuAir peaceful protesters were determined to personally hand over their six-point memorandum to Hajiji, after refusing to pass it to Deputy Chief Minister III and Works Minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya on Friday.

Shahelmey is the minister responsible for water issues and was present at the location, ready to meet with the students.

Programme coordinator Mohammad Norhamdin Nordin, however, said their aim was to hand over the memorandum to the Chief Minister personally.

Although their mission failed, he described the peaceful protest as “very big and meaningful”, not just for UMS, but for Sabahans at large.

“We spent 17 hours waiting for the Chief Minister to receive the memorandum from us, but he was not able to do so, it is alright.

“We have decided not to hand over our memorandum, but he can still read it as it is widely publicised on social media,” he said.

Mohammad Norhamdin denied that the assembly was politically motivated, adding that no political party was involved.

“The presence of politicians at the assembly was in their capacity as citizens,” he said.

The group of about 80 protesters comprised UMS students and community and NGO representatives.

It was earlier reported that UMS requires between three and five million litres per-day (MLD) of water to support its population of around 20,000 people, including 16,000 students.

Currently, UMS receives an average of three MLD from the Sabah Water Department.

Meanwhile, nine people who joined the demonstration were arrested for not having identification documents.

Kota Kinabalu police chief Asst Comm Kasim Muda said police detained the nine people after screening through personal documents.

“We made a check after a group of them boarded a van to leave the place and found nine without identification documents,” he said when contacted.

“They have been brought to the station and are undergoing the documentation process again,” he added.

ACP Kasim said the police will open an investigation paper under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012. He said they will also refer the matter to the public prosecutor for the next course of action.

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