Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) has confirmed that Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin, who was convicted of child pornography in the United Kingdom, is a post-graduate student at the university
In a statement published in local daily Sinar Harian and reported by Malay Mail, the country’s second-oldest university said it will give "chances" to those who apply for a place in its higher learning institution and fulfil its academic criteria.
"Regarding the student, Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin, he is now a UKM student that is pursuing his studies at the PhD level," it said in a statement in response to public questions following the revelation over Nur Fitri being a student at UKM.
According to the statement released by UKM, the 27-year-old deserves a second chance for his "extraordinary capabilities"
"He was chosen to further his studies due to his extraordinary capabilities and his academic achievement," UKM said, adding that it had previously accepted Nur Fitri when he was pursuing his Bachelor's degree and that it is aware of his criminal record.
The university said many views were taken prior to accepting him
"After the selection to accept him, various views were taken into account and evaluated. UKM is clear about his conviction as well as past sentence, which he served previously.
"Throughout his studies here, he has been very committed in his studies and hasn’t displayed any suspicious behaviour. The university also has never received any complaints against him throughout his time in UKM," the university said.
According to UKM, it believes that "education can help to transform individuals by giving them a chance to improve themselves to achieve their highest success in life."
Meanwhile, it was also revealed that Nur Fitri is not listed in the child sex offenders' registry launched in April this year
The registry, which is maintained by the Social Welfare Department (JKM) and contains the names of 3,000 child sex offenders from 2017 to February 2019, does not list Nur Fitri because the list records convictions for child sexual offences from 2017 onwards, when the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 (SOAC) came into force.
According to Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh, this means the SOAC would only have records of convictions from 2017 onwards.
She, however, added that the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development is "currently reviewing the existing laws related to this."
Weighing on the issue which is seeing heated discussion on Twitterverse, a couple of experts said that while the mathematics scholar deserves a second chance, it should not be unconditional
According to them, Nur Fitri must be subjected to monitoring and undergo psychological treatment to ensure that he is suited to return to society.
"He committed a heinous crime and had been convicted. This is a serious crime against children and he should accept responsibility for what he had done. He is adult enough to know that what he did was wrong and deserves to be punished.
"The question here is, has he been subjected to any psychoanalysis for his past behaviour?," Malaysian Council for Child Welfare (MKKM) president Dr Raj Abdul Karim said, adding that UKM should monitor his activity from time to time.
"You don't want a Malaysian version of Richard Huckle to appear," she said, referring to a British paedophile who was convicted of 71 counts of sexual assault against children while working as a teacher and photographer in Malaysia.
Another expert interviewed by NST Online said that legally Nur Fitri could not be discriminated against due to his criminal record.
"In Malaysia, there is no law that states that if you have a criminal record, you are not allowed to pursue your studies or live a normal life.
"However, the university has to take precautionary measures to ensure that the individual does not cause harm to its community," Associate Professor Dr P. Sundramoorthy, who is Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist, was quoted as saying.