Sexual harassment: UM says lecturer penalised but can't detail how

Sexual harassment: UM says lecturer penalised but can't detail how
Sexual harassment: UM says lecturer penalised but can't detail how

Following claims that it had acted negligently in a sexual harassment case, Universiti Malaya (UM) has come forward to state that action was taken against the lecturer involved.

Yesterday, a student lodged a police report against an associate professor and alleged that UM had refused to reveal the outcome of its internal probe.

In a statement today, vice-chancellor Abdul Rahim Hashim revealed that UM had penalised the professor but did not detail what the punishment was citing privacy concerns.

“Referring to media reports about the sexual harassment case, UM would like to stress that the following action was taken - investigations were carried out immediately after the complaint was received, the perpetrator was suspended from work, the perpetrator was brought before a disciplinary committee, and the perpetrator was punished as per the Disciplinary Rules for Statutory Bodies,” he said.

“However, we would like to clarify that university authorities are bound by operating procedures that stipulate the university must maintain the confidentiality and privacy of all parties involved,” he added.

When contacted, UM officials cited the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 as the reason why they could not reveal the nature of the punishment meted out but did not point to a specific section of the act.

Under the Statutory Bodies (Discipline and Surcharge) Act 2000, the list of punishments that a disciplinary committee can impose includes issuing a warning, a fine, forfeiture of emoluments, deferment of salary movement, reduction of salary, reduction in rank and dismissal.

Stressing that the top university took sexual harassment allegations seriously, Abdul Rahim said UM was committed to improving its manner of managing sexual harassment cases.

According to the student involved, the lecturer had touched her inappropriately and uttered lewd comments on June 3, 2019, at his office in UM.

She lodged a formal complaint against him with the UM Integrity Unit - a division under Abdul Rahim’s jurisdiction - on July 1, 2019.

The student decided to go to the police as she was dissatisfied with the university’s refusal to disclose what punishment was handed to the professor, citing a lack of transparency.

UM Student Union president Muhammad Haziq Azfar Ishak told the media yesterday that he doubted that the professor was punished as he had retired last month.

Additional reporting by Wong Kai Hui