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    Sunday, April 21, 2002 10:55 PM

Umno cooks up underground student plot to mislead public: Fadzil

Tong Yee Siong, Malaysiakini
8:04pm Wed Sep 5th, 2001

The current media coverage about underground movements in universities using registered student bodies to unseat the government was part of an ‘Umno’s sandiwara’ (shadow play) to mislead the public, said an opposition leader today.

PAS president Fadzil Noor said such a move was to instil fear into non-Muslims so that they will have misconceptions about Islam.

“It is actually Umno who is trying to use students to give false statements to the media to insult Islam,” said Fadzil in a statement.

He was referring to the claim by former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia student Wan Noor Hayati Wan Alias that there are underground movements, influenced by PAS Youth, which are trying to “brainwash” young students in the campus to topple the government.

Wan Noor Hayati claimed that this was done behind the facade of religious activities using several organisations comprising mostly Muslim members such as the Muslim Students’ Society or Persatuan Mahasiswa Islam (PMI).

However, Fadzil refuted the claim, saying PMI had been active in championing the cause of Islam since its establishment decades ago.

He added the organisation was gaining popularity among Muslim students and therefore its leaders had constantly been elected into student representatives’ council.

“PMI candidates have always defeated those puppets of a ruling secular party,” said Fadzil.

PAS supporters

Previously, PAS leaders such as deputy president and Terengganu Mentri Besar Abdul Hadi Awang were quoted as saying that most of the student representatives are supporters of the Muslim party.

Yesterday, Kelantan PAS Youth chief Takiyuddin Hassan reportedly admitted that the Kelantan Undergraduates Movement or Markaz Siswazah Kelantan was affiliated with the party.

However, he denied that the group had any militant tendencies.

Muslim Malays, who formed the majority of student representatives, have often fought vigorously for the council’s top posts and most of them are known to be loosely aligned to either Umno or PAS.

Political pundits noted that such a stiff competition was because student leaders supporting different parties hope to exercise their influence over their peers, who are new eligible voters.

In the last general elections in 1999, it was widely believed that Umno lost a substantial number of Malay youngsters’ votes to its long-time rival PAS.

Power base

Fadzil said speculation is rife that “certain parties within the government” are now trying to collaborate with university administrators to build their own power base among students.

“They are thinking of setting up a new organisation called Akademi Mahasiswa Islam Nasional to weaken PMI’s influence,” he said.

In recent months, the government has repeatedly warned about the rising militant trend among university students.

At least one student leader from the local varsity was arrested by police under the controversial Internal Security Act in July but was subsequently released unconditionally.

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