SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: January 25, 2017

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Malaysian University of Sabah

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Malaysia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Mukmin Nantang and Nurul Aqilah Muhammad Zainuzi, student activists from Malaysian University of Sabah, were subjected to administrative discipline and required to attend a hearing on Jan 25, 2017, over their participation in a political rally the prior November.  

On November 19, 2016, Nantang, the chairperson of a student group known as Suara Mahasiswa UMS, and Zainuzi, attended a rally known as Bersih 5, in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, calling for electoral reform. The rally followed previous protests throughout Malaysia, calling for electoral reform and challenging official corruption, which have led to disciplinary actions against other student activists (see report). 

Scholars at Risk is concerned about disciplinary actions taken against university students in retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.