NTU students come alive

October 5, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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Student speaking during the protest (photo by Reuters)

Student speaking during the protest (photo by Reuters)

Singapore Democrats

Angered by the censorship of their university media, students of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) demonstrated their leadership by organising a historic protest at Hong Lim Park this afternoon.

Several students were on hand to express their disquiet over the campus censorship of news of Dr Chee Soon Juan’s visit to the university a few weeks ago.

The Nanyang Chronicle, a university press, and campus television Nanyang Spectrumhad their reports banned by the school’s administration.

With a banner that read “Responsible Press For Students”, the speakers described the situation that led to the axing of the media reports and called on the university not to continue its policy of censorship. A petition was presented for the nearly 70 people who showed up in support to sign.

SDP leaders were present to support the effort. Dr Chee arrived towards the end of the speeches and answered questions from the media, including student reporters from the Nanyang Chronicle and Nanyang Spectrum.

He commended the students for their initiative and leadership. “University life is a journey of discovery and a time where students develop character and leadership skills,” he said. “To do this they need a free flow of information.”

He urged students to take the initiative to organise a “democracy week” to raise political awareness by inviting political parties to speak on campus, discussing the constitution, debating the state of local media, and so on.

The protest made its way into international news as Reuters and the Agence France Presse wrote reports.

Student speaking during the protest (photo by Reuters)But the event was not confined to the Park. Back on campus, students draped a banner to express their displeasure at the university’s heavy hand.

Read the report by The Enquirer, an online newspaper set up independently by students after the censorship episode, here.

The website calls for donations as it is not funded by the university. The effort is worthy of support and the wider blogging community should actively do so.

The National University of Singapore has its own version of the The Enquirer called The Campus Observer. It was set up by students who did not want its contents to come under the control of the NUS administration.

In the meantime, the NTU Students’ Union have rejected a requested by the SDP’s Chairman, Mr Gandhi Ambalam, to organise an event where the party can address students. Its Vice-President, Mr Samuel Chee, said that NTU’s students are already exposed to a diversity of views.

Dear Mr Gandhi Ambalam,

On behalf of the Nanyang Technological University Students’ Union (NTUSU), we would like to thank you for expressing interest in giving students a diversity of views and opinions which our students in NTU are constantly exposed to from time to time on top of our heavy curriculum.

Hence, we have to decline your request for a forum.

Thank you once again.

Best Regards,

Samuel Chee
Vice President (Internal Affairs)
18th Students’ Union Executive Committee
Nanyang Technological University