A Japanese Student Claimed That UM Tried To Cover Up Complaints Of Sexual Assault
A local university is under the spotlight after a foreign exchange student alleged that the educational institution attempted to cover up an incident of sexual assault
The student, who only wanted to be known as 'Yo M', is a third-year law student from Japan who came to Malaysia last September to study at a prominent local institution, Universiti Malaya (UM) in Kuala Lumpur.
According to the 20-year-old student, he first met another international student from Palestine at the Tun Ahmad Zaidi Residential College (KK10), one of the residential colleges in UM, as they were living on the same campus.
They only came across each other for a few times but Yo felt increasingly uncomfortable after each encounter. During the second time they met, the other student apparently asked Yo to kiss him on the cheek.
"He asked me to kiss him on the cheek as it's a part of the culture where he is from," Yo said.
He actually complied, despite being extremely reluctant and uncomfortable but stressed that he only did so because he did not want to be rude.
Yo then said that they met at the front door of the dormitory during their third encounter, and this time, the same student asked Yo to kiss him again. Even when Yo refused, the student forcibly kissed Yo inappropriately, and then held his hands tightly asking for his room number.
Yo panicked, and eventually gave in to other guy's the request so that he could leave.
Yo claims that he was sexually assaulted by the same student on 30 April
On that fateful night at about 8pm, Yo was in his room preparing for a trip to Singapore when the Palestinian student came in and sexually assaulted him.
The student forcefully kissed Yo and kept reassuring Yo that "it was okay" despite Yo saying that he has a girlfriend and he refused to have any part of this.
"Then he grabbed my hands and tried to force me to touch his penis. I told him that I would call the police if he would go any further more than that, then he went out the room like running away," Yo said.
He took a few minutes to recover from the shocking moment, and called a few friends to come over to his room. The perpetrator apparently returned to Yo's room and asked to talk to him, but Yo refused and his friends were also there to witness this.
"He asked me to talk with me, but I refused. Then he left and never came back again on that day," Yo said.
Yo subsequently made a report to the school authorities on 2 May
He explained that he did not make a report immediately on the next day, on 1 May, because he left for Singapore and it was a public holiday.
Once he returned to Malaysia from Singapore on the morning of 2 May, he immediately went to the International Student Centre (ISC) and the police station to report the incident.
Then on 11 May, the perpetrator apparently came up to Yo and begged him to not bring up the case to the authorities, fearing that he would get into trouble.
But Yo eventually learned that the same offender had assaulted another student from Taiwan in a similar manner just a day later on 12 May.
Two weeks after Yo lodged a report on the sexual assault, on 16 May, the ISC urged him to withdraw the police report so that the university could have a smoother investigation. He also said that he was told to withdraw the report because he could not provide evidence for his case.
After learning that another international student was subjected to the same ordeal like he did, Yo was upset at the university's inaction
On 16 June, Yo posted a statement on his social media account, urging foreign universities to halt sending students to UM since the students' welfare and safety are not being taken care of.
He documented what happened to him and the Taiwanese student after the authorities in UM failed to respond to his complaints and even urged him to withdraw the police report that he had lodged on 2 May.
He also alleged that the ISC, who only came to know about his case on 12 May, did not take his complaint seriously and did nothing even after the Taiwanese student was assaulted. Both of them had demanded more information in regards to the suspect's whereabouts but the ISC refused to comply with their request.
It was only after that both Yo and the Taiwanese student filed a complaint on their own to their respective embassies that the ISC director held a meeting to follow-up on their cases.
"Mrs Salmi (Masita Shaari), the director of ISC, mentioned that the college's 'face' or reputation was more important than students' safety."
Yo claimed that university did not take any swift action to rectify the situation even when such dangerous incidents of sexual assaults have happened and instead only try to "protect themselves".
"They asked the Taiwanese guy not to call the police. We are not sure about the reason, but ISC almost blamed the Taiwanese student for not reporting to the police, as if it was his fault," he said.
"As one of the victims in this case, I demand a legal punishment towards this suspect of course, but I would also like to ask for a punishment against ISC since they are the ones who made this incident worse that led to another victim to be attacked."
"We would like an official apology to us from ISC and University of Malaya."
Meanwhile, UM International and Corporate Relations Office (ICR) has said that the cases are still under investigation
The university has assured the public that it is "taking matters of this nature seriously and all complaints will be processed thoroughly".
"As the investigation has not been completed, it would be inappropriate for us to comment," ICR said in a statement, as reported by Malaysiakini.
It was learned that the Student Representative Council (SRC) University of Malaya, released a statement on the issue earlier on Tuesday, 20 June, saying that a UM disciplinary proceeding that involved both individuals (Yo and the Taiwanese student) was conducted on 25 May.
"The suspect was found guilty and has been convicted for: first written warning, exclusion from entering KK10, effective immediately from 25 May till the end of the first semester 2017/2018, and suspension from studying in UM, effective immediately from 25 May till the end of 1st semester 2017/2018," the statement read.
While the investigations are still ongoing, it was learned that Yo, the Taiwanese student, and the suspect have all left Malaysia.
What do you think about the way UM reacted to the issue? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.