Police Drop Case Against UM Lecturer Who Allegedly Sexually Harassed A Student

This is because the suspect, who retired in June this year, has already faced disciplinary action from the University of Malaya (UM), according to Kuala Lumpur CID chief Nik Ros Azhan Abdul Hamid.

Cover image via KiniTV & New Straits Times

A University of Malaya (UM) student has been told that the associate professor whom she accused of sexually harassing her will not face any criminal action as authorities won't be pressing further charges

In a statement issued on Friday, 28 August, University of Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY), a student group, said that the survivor of the UM sexual harassment case received a notice from the police.

In the notice to the student, UMANY said, the police have concluded that the lack of other witnesses and conclusive testimony has led them not to press further charges and carry the case forward.

The UM student, who identifies herself as 'Ching', had lodged a police report last month against the associate professor, accusing him of sexually harassing her in his office on 3 June 2019.

She lodged the police report on 15 July, claiming that the university had failed her by not taking effective action against the lecturer and refusing to divulge the findings of its internal investigations.

Yesterday, after she was informed about the case being dropped by the police, the student was accompanied by the student group as she carried out a press conference at the Parliament, where Klang Member of Parliament (MP) Charles Santiago and Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah joined her.

"During the investigation led by UM Integrity Unit, they discovered the perpetrator is a repeat offender, yet the final punishment was unable to bring justice to the survivor. Therefore, Miss Ching reported the case to the police, however, the decision of the police to drop the case is rather disappointing," UMANY said.

Explaining the decision to drop the case against the UM associate professor, Kuala Lumpur CID chief Nik Ros Azhan Abdul Hamid said this was because the suspect has already faced disciplinary action

"We have referred the case to the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) on 13 August and the DPP said there will be no charges against the suspect. This is on grounds that the suspect has already faced disciplinary action from UM that was triggered by the victim's complaints," Malaysiakini quoted Nik Ros as saying.

"The victim previously made a police report at UM and UM had conducted investigations and took action against the (associate) professor. He has been demoted and has retired in June, if I'm not mistaken."

According to CID chief Nik Ros, the investigation into the case was conducted under Section 354 of the Penal Code which covers assault or use of criminal force to a person with the intent to outrage modesty.

A conviction carries 10 years' imprisonment, with fine, whipping or any two of such punishments.

Meanwhile, during the press conference at the Parliament yesterday, the student group urged the police to not stop the investigation

"We hope that the police will not stop the investigation. Moreover, we urge the University of Malaya to take proper steps to remedy the situation and support Miss Ching's legal action to the harasser," UMANY said.

The student group also said that police's claim about the lack of other witnesses and conclusive testimony which led them not to press further charges against the lecturer is "simply untrue".

"In fact, when the Integrity Unit of UM was investigating the case, they had discovered that the perpetrator is a repeat offender and other victims were involved. Certain victims had also provided their testimonies. It was precisely these testimonies of other victims that led the Integrity Unity to establish Miss Ching's complaint," the student group said, according to a separate statement.

"We were told by Miss Ching that this is what she was informed by the Integrity Unit after she reported her case to the police authority that morning [on 15 July]. Besides, we also acknowledged that the police have contacted the Integrity Unit and learned the sentence that was delivered internally to the perpetrator."

The student group said that they are left "bewildered" on whether the police had contacted the Integrity Unit to further understand "the severity of the issue at hand, including the existence of other victims".

According to UMANY, this was not the first sexual harassment case in UM.

"We hoped that by taking proper legal measures, the offender will be punished and set a precedent for other institution to tackle the issue of sexual harassment in the academia and the workplace," it said

"University students will lose confidence with law and order established in this country if the police decide to drop the case and let the perpetrator get away scot-free, even when the victim is ready to experience again the trauma and distress by coming forward and expose this case."

During the press conference on Friday, the UM student, who was wearing a face mask and sunglasses, did not speak. However, MP Santiago, who spoke, said the rights of the student were violated.

"By not doing something decisively, you condone it," he said, referring to the premier university.

MP Charles Santiago, UMANY president Yap Wen Qing, the UM student 'Ching', and MP Maria Chin Abdullah.

Image via University of Malaya Association of New Youth - UMANY/Facebook

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Following the publication of this story, a petition was launched:

Last month, UMANY called for the resignation of the UM vice-chancellor for allegedly being "weak, vain, and incompetent":

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