Not okay to force students to attend Umno anniversary, say PH Youth wings

IT is plain wrong to force students from public higher learning institutions to attend the Umno 71st anniversary celebration, youth leaders from Pakatan Harapan say.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said Umno was clearly using students for their own political interests by forcing them to attend as if it was a compulsory university programme.

He said this is like to put up an appearance that the party has support from the people.

“We received over 300 reports that students were forced to attend, while some were offered money. Some were threatened with disciplinary action and told they would be marked absent if they chose not to attend.

“We learned that the directive was issued by the institutions’ student affairs offices. Classes and even exams had been postponed so the students could attend the anniversary celebration,” he said in a statement today.

Syed Saddiq said students from universities outside Kuala Lumpur, such as Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, had to arrive a day earlier and spend the night at a university in Selangor to attend the event at the Bukit Jalil Stadium.

“It is appalling that the students were also forced to learn the song ‘Sayangi Najib’ (Love Najib) to show that Najib Razak had full support of all those who are attending the event,” he said, referring to the prime minister and Umno president Najib Razak.

Meanwhile, PKR Youth deputy chief Dr Afif Bahardin said Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Vice-Chancellor Professor Emeritus Hassan Said must explain why students were asked to attend the event.

“How much money was used to mobilise the students, and to transport them to the stadium, and to clothe and feed them for this event? How much is being spent to print certificates for them?

“Did the funds come from Umno or Mara?” said Afif, who is also a Penang state government exco.

The Malaysian Insight interviewed several UiTM students at the stadium and learned that those taking co-curricular activities, such as uniformed societies, from year one to year three were involved.

A UiTM Shah Alam student said the instruction to attend the anniversary celebration as volunteers was from the university’s top management.

The order, he said, was sent via social messaging app WhatsApp. – May 11, 2017.

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