This article was the Page One lead article in the Cambridge University
Student Union Newspaper, "Varsity ", issue 254 dated 6 October 2000.

Anger at PM's visit
By Elizabeth Day and Ben Sheriff

The Cambridge University Malaysian Society is  embroiled in controversy this
week over its decision  to invite the Malaysian Prime Minister to speak at a
  forum, in spite of Malaysia's recent human rights  record.

The conference, 'Malaysia in the New Millennium', will  be held tomorrow.
According to CUMAS President, Tan  Khoon Tee, its sole aim is to bring
together "key  Malaysian policy-makers to discuss current Malaysian 
issues". Yet the Cambridge Coalition for a Free  Malaysia has written to the
University Chancellor  Prince Philip protesting against the invitation 
extended to Dr Mahathir Mohamad and claiming the  support of a Cambridge
Nobel Prize winner for their  protest. They accuse the Malaysian Premier of
using  restrictive legislation such as the Internal Security  Act to curb
freedom of expression and association.

The allegations surround Deputy Prime Minister Anwar  Ibrahim, who was
dismissed from his post in September  1998 by Dr Mohamad, arrested and
severely beaten in  custody. At his trial, witnesses reversed their 
previous testimony and Anwar's lawyer was jailed,  leading to near-universal
condemnation of the  Malaysian regime by human rights groups worldwide.

Amnesty International is staging a peaceful protest  outside the conference
venue, Lady Mitchell Hall, on  Saturday. Clare Hinkley Smith, Cambridge
University  Amnesty President, plans to be there "to give voice to  the
concerns of Malaysian students unable to express  themselves freely". Almost
all Malaysian students at  Cambridge are government funded scholars and
therefore  unable to protest openly.

Amidst this growing furore, several economists and  academics from Cambridge
University are allegedly  boycotting the conference, citing previous
commitments  and withdrawing their participation. In spite of an 
invitation, and CUMAS' initial insistence that he  would be participating,
University Vice-Chancellor  Professor Sir Alec Broers will not be attending,
"due  to a longstanding prior engagement," although it was  understood until
quite recently that he would be  there.

He will instead be sending his deputy, Mrs Anne  Lonsdale. The
Vice-Chancellor said, "Malaysia sends  more students to Cambridge today than
any other  Commonwealth country and its students are highly  motivated with
an impressive record of achievement.  They are also forward-looking, as
illustrated by their  organisation of the 'Malaysia in the New Millennium' 
conference, the importance of which is indicated by  the attendance of the
Prime Minister."

Professor Amartya Sen, Master of Trinity College and a  former Nobel Prize
winner was also unable to attend  "owing to previous ngagements".
Speculation from some  sources has linked Professor Sen with the Coalition 
for a Free Malaysia's claim of support from a Nobel  Prize Winner.

Mr Michael Kitson of St Catharine's College, who will  be speaking at the
conference, refused to comment on  the Malaysian regime's human rights
record. The  reluctance at the highest levels of the university to  give the
CUMAS forum an official stamp of approval has  not dampened Tan Khoon Tee's
enthusiasm for the  conference. The CUMAS President said, "The very fact 
that the Malaysian Prime Minister has agreed to attend  proves that he is
willing to answer any allegations."

Further defending the forum from an onslaught of  criticism, Tan Khoon Tee
said this week that the Prime  Minister's opponents "have the right to
express an  opinion but the way in which they express it needs due 
consideration. Quite a lot of the opposition is  motivated by personal
sentiment or loyalty to  someone."

Jenny Kleeman, a third year SPS student who earlier  this year participated
in a peaceful demonstration  against the visit of the Chinese Prime Minister
to  Cambridge, responded that "no matter how prestigious  the politician, a
dismal human rights record cannot be
ignored and the only way to make this heard is through  direct action."