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    Updated on Sunday, April 21, 2002 10:48 PM

UTM to deploy ‘campus spies’

Nash Rahman,Malaysiakini
7:10pm Tue Jan 29th, 2002

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) will establish an Intelligence Unit to monitor the activities of its lecturers, said its vice-chancellor.

Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mohd Zulkifli Mohd Ghazali said in an interview published in Utusan Malaysia today that the unit will cooperate with other parties to overcome negative activities that could tarnish its image.

Last year, former UTM student Wan Noor Hayati Wan Alias revealed the existence of an anti-government underground student movement in the university and last Friday, three UTM lecturers, believed to be members of Kumpulan Militan Malaysia, were detained under the Internal Security Act.

The disclosure has changed public perception of the university. UTM is now perceived as the breeding ground of militant activists to topple the government.

Since its formation 30 years ago, about 50,000 students, mostly Malays, majoring in science and technology, have graduated from UTM. Many of them have received international recognition for their excellent achievements. The university now has about 1,600 academic staff and 29,000 students.

Prof Dr Zulkifli, who was appointed UTM's vice-chancellor on Jan 5, said the university has taken various precautionary measures to overcome “negative activities”.

"What I would like to stress is that UTM is the pride of the nation, and it has played a role under the government’s New Economic Policy to produce a large number of professionals in the field of engineering," he said in the published interview.

"As such, it is my responsibility to restore and sustain that good image of UTM. I never think of my own interest alone but the interest of thousands of people who are counting on the good image of UTM. This includes its lecturers, undergraduates and graduates," he said.

‘Personal capacity’

Prof Dr Zulkifli called on the public to view the ISA arrests of its academics in an objective way "because the involvement of those three lecturers were conducted outside office hours and on their personal capacity".

He said that the public should not dismiss "our good deeds and contribution simply because of the doing of these two or three people".

"When there is allegation, we conduct a thorough investigation. If there is evident to support it, appropriate actions will be taken. Even if there is no evident, we still monitor and take precautionary measures.

"We have issued show-cause letters and even press charges against them. We have suspended and even sacked lecturers who do not do their work," he said.

The university, he said, has also temporarily dissolved Persatuan Mahasiswa Islam (The Islamic Students Association) as a preventive measures after receiving several allegations against its activities.

"Although there is no evident to prove them guilty, we think it is appropriate to temporarily dissolve the association in order to sustain a conducive environment and also not to allow unnecessary polemics on matters not related to the academic performance," he said.

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