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23-02-2011 12:25

UPM exclusive

SERDANG: Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah has urged for democracy to prevail at campuses, following the standoff between pro-Mahasiswa students and varsity administrators at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

Emphasising that he sided neither the anti-establishment pro-Mahasiswa front or pro-establishment factions, Saifuddin said that he wanted a mature democracy on campuses.

"Just recognise the campus election result as the students have spoken," he told The Star.

"Disqualifying the winning candidates for highly questionable reasons is the last thing to do.

"We should not repeat the injustices done to Aung San Suu Kyi and Hamas whose wins at the polls were not recognised."

The pro-Mahasiswa students were protesting after 10 of their 11 winning candidates were disqualified for campaigning as a group.

The candidates were later reinstated but the protests continued as coordinators insisted that UPM deputy vice-chancellor Prof Dr Fauzi Ramlan had to issue a face-to-face apology.

Saifuddin said although groupings were forbidden under the campus election guidelines, UPM's pro-Mahasiswa front not the only guilty party.

"There happen to be two groups in this case, the pro-establishment pro-Aspirasi and the anti-establishment pro-Mahasiswa," said.

"If the students want to have groupings, let them be.

"In this case, the pro-Aspirasi camp complained that the pro-Mahasiswa students campaigned as a group.

"Were the pro-Mahasiswa candidates given a fair hearing? It is an injustice if they were not given one."

Saifuddin also praised UPM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi for meeting the students twice to appease the situation.

"Prof Radin Umar is a fair man and he did the right thing by upholding democratic principles," he said.

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