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    Updated on Saturday, March 16, 2002 9:51 PM

Rais warns ISA can be used against UTM arsonists

VC's claims of saboteurs cannot be dismissed
by Hamidah Atan, NST 10 Mac 2002

The Internal Security Act can be used against arsonists whose actions are found to be detrimental to national security, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said today.

Commenting on last Friday's fire at Universiti Teknologi Malaysias Dewan Sultan Iskandar, he said the statement by University vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Mohd Zulkifli Mohd Ghazali that the fire could be an act of sabotage should not be dismissed.

"He is the best person to gauge the reaction of several quarters, including those of his students. He should pursue that clues and if he feels strongly about it, he should be assisting the enforcement authorities in garnering support in term of the evidence."

Speaking after giving away Bakti scholarships to 25 excellent primary and secondary schools here, he said the act could also be used against those found to be responsible for creating chaos or causing economic instability.

Rais said those found to have committed arson involving public or government property could also be placed under the ISA.

"Such people (arsonists) can be arrested (under the ISA) because their aim is to create problems for the people and hamper national aspirations."

Mohd Zulkifli had said the university's investigations revealed that the fire was believed to be an act of sabotage.

Although police investigations pointed to a short-circuit, Mohd Zulkifli had said that this was unlikely as the fire started between 11pm on Thursday and 2am on Friday when electricity consumption in the building was low.

Mohd Zulkifli had added that if arson was confirmed, it was most likely prompted by UTM's tough stand against lecturers, staff and students involved in militant activities and anti-government propaganda.

Rais said the fire should not discourage Mohd Zulkifli from continuing with his vigilance and action against the university's lecturers and students involved in militant activities.

"Action against these people must be continued under the rules. Otherwise, our institutions and universities will be seen as lame ducks."

He added the university must beef up its security to prevent a recurrence.

UTM lecturers Roshelmy Md Sharif, Idris Salim and Dr Abdullah Daud were among 23 who have been detained for alleged involvement with Kumpulan Militant Malaysia.

A second-year Management and Human Resources student was also arrested by police in January for allegedly trying to sabotage the Barisan Nasional's Indera Kayangan by-election campaign.

The university had suspended the three lecturers but had not decided on action to be taken against the student.

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