Expel me if you dare, student leader tells UM

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KUALA LUMPUR: In his bid to initiate a new phase of “reformasi” among the country’s youth, Universiti Malaya (UM) Student Council president Fahmi Zainol (pic) now faces the threat of suspension, and in the long run the risk that he may go down the same path as convicted youth activists Safwan Anang and Adam Adli Abd Halim.

But the 23-year-old Public Service Department (PSD) scholarship student is undeterred by the threats from his university and even the prospect of a future behind bars, if that is what it takes to wake up Malaysians.

“If they want to expel me, then go ahead. Let this be a lesson for the public on what is going on in universities and Malaysia,” Fahmi told The Malaysian Insider. “I am willing to be expelled, to be imprisoned, anything for the sake of making Malaysia a better place.”

The final year student in Social Administration and Justice said he was inspired by his professors, lecturers and peers to take up the challenge of leading a student movement to bring about change. “We students have to make these sacrifices, whether we like it or not, because Malaysia needs to change. And the government cannot underestimate the power of students. Just look at the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong and Reformasi in Indonesia. It began with students.”  The student leader is now in trouble with his university’s administration for inviting opposition leader and UM alumni Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to the campus to give a talk on the eve of the de facto PKR leader’s sodomy appeal.

The programme, titled “40 years, from UM to prison”, has been declared illegal by UM vice-chancellor of student affairs Professor Datuk Dr Rohana Yusof, who said it would “damage the image” of the university.

In a letter issued yesterday, Rohana said from 7am today, the university campus will be locked down by police, who have informed the university authorities that they will take over its security responsibilities. But the UM Student Council, led by Fahmi, not only intends to go ahead with the talk today, but is using it as the platform to start a second wave of “Reformasi” — the 1998 battle cry protesters used to rally around Anwar after his sacking from the Cabinet.

Fahmi admitted that his parents are concerned about his safety and the possibility that his scholarship may be revoked. Hailing from Permatang Pauh, Penang, he is the third of six children, and his parents can ill afford to pay for his tuition fees if PSD decides to stop funding his studies. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 27, 2014.