On May 18, 2013 Adam Adli, a student at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, was reportedly detained by police and charged with violating Malaysia’s Sedition Act, for remarks he had made during a non-violent post-election public meeting held on May 13, 2013. The meeting had been conducted to protest alleged fraud in the recent 13th General Elections. Adli was reportedly later released on bail and scheduled for a hearing on June 2, 2013.
At the time of his arrest, Adli had been actively protesting the University and University Colleges Act of Malaysia, which prohibits political expression or affiliation by university students. Adli’s activism reportedly led to his three-semester suspension from his university, beginning in January 2012, on the grounds that he brought disrepute to the institution (for complete discussion of Adli’s suspension, see related report).
Scholars at Risk is concerned about detention and prosecution of students for nonviolent political expression. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with such expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Arrest and prosecution aimed at limiting such expressive activity undermines academic freedom and fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression and related higher education values including institutional autonomy and social responsibility.