KUALA LUMPUR: THE Higher Education Ministry has expressed regret over the humiliating manner to which an undergraduate was treated by a speaker at a forum held at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) last month.
The incident has also garnered condemnation from Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders who have spoken out against the speaker, identified as Suara Wanita 1Malaysia (SW1M) president Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin.
Deputy Higher Education Minis ter Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said he regretted the way Zohra responded and belittled the law student, identified as K.S. Bawani.
“Even if she didn’t agree with the student’s views, she should have replied in a more refined manner.
“It was also not right for the speaker to question why the stu dent was living in Malaysia and studying in the university if she was not happy with the way things were.”
Saifuddin said he had spoken to Bawani and she was in “high spirits”.
Meanwhile, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has also expressed his regrets over the matter re gret when he tweeted in response to Twitter users asking for the party’s wing to look into the matter.
“Anyone can misuse the 1M brand. No one has even heard of her (Sharifah) or SW1M.
“And on UUM issue. Please listen to me: this Jabeen lady does not represent Barisan Nasional.” he tweeted.
Bernama quoted MIC Youth deputy chief V. Mugilan as express ing disappointment that Sharifah Zohra, being a panellist at the forum, did not handle the situation diplomatically and wisely.
He said it was important and critical that undergraduates’ voices are heard when it comes to education reform and nation-development.
A 24-minute video clip showing a heated exchange between Zohra and Bawani has gone viral on Facebook and Internet forums.
The video on the question-and-answer session was uploaded onto YouTube last Wednesday, and has garnered almost 300,000 hits, with an overwhelming number of “dislikes”.
Meanwhile, Bawani, when contacted, said she felt sad that young people were not allowed to express their views -- even at platforms created for them at such forums.
“It was disheartening that I was cut off and not allowed to finish my comments,” she said, adding she eventually left the hall because there was no room for freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, The National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students (PKPIM) secretary general Khairul Anuar Abdul Manap has demanded Sharifah apologise as her action had shocked and embarrassed university students nationwide.
However, an update on the SW1M page yesterday announced that the president would not apologise for her actions.”