Sunday, June 11, 2017

Msian navy cadet tortured in own dorm for 12 days before he died. How did no one notice?


36 students have been held for the past week, as part of an investigation into the death of a navy cadet at Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM). Electrical engineering student, Zulfarhan Osman, was alleged to have been tortured by his classmates after a bomoh named him as having stolen a classmate’s laptop.
While authorities have denied this part of the story, the investigation has so far resulted in 32 UPNM students and 4 UNITEN students getting tangkap-ed for questioning. The four UNITEN students were said to have kept Zulfarhan in their apartment in Bangi where he died before being pronounced dead at Serdang HospitalMinister of DefenceHishammuddin Hussein, has weighed in on the story ordering the Armed Forces and the university to look into the matter.
In the meantime, while the police, the tentera, and the university are investigating, we did some of our own digging. From everything we gathered, there were a few things that really stood out for us, and more precisely… here are 3 things we found really weird about the torture of the UPNM Navy Cadet.

20+ students were involved in his murder… over a laptop?

According to available news reports, Zulfarhan was tortured all because of a dispute over a laptop. Sources mention that the student who lost the laptop met with a bomoh who named Zulfarhan as the thief. However, Selangor police chief told The Star:
Who said bomoh? We never said bomoh. There is no bomoh.” – S’gor police chief Comm Datuk Seri Abdul Samah Mat.
While we haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact source of this information, it appears that the claim a bomoh was involved had apparently been raised to Zulfarhan’s father, Zulkarnain Idrus, who told reporters that it was a bomoh who had given their son’s name to the perpetrators. Meanwhile, Zulfarhan’s mother says he could not have stolen the laptop because he already had one of his own.
According to Hawa Osman, the claim that her son stole a laptop was also something Zulfarhan’s teachers and friends did not believe. For her, it was important that investigations cleared her son’s name. But as the police try to do so, other points have also been raised by Dave Avran, founder of the Malaysians Against Rape, Assault, and Snatch Theft. Speaking to The Malay Mail, Dave said:
If the victim had indeed stolen a laptop as alleged, it could have been dealt with according to the law“.
Which leads us to the same question: Why did the students feel the need to take matters into their own hands? According to Dave, the torturing of Zulfarhan suggests that the students were only using theft as an excuse. But whether his suspicions are right or wrong, the motives of the students involved including the 36 arrested by police so far will only be proven as the investigations discover more.

None of his teachers or friends noticed anything for over a WEEK?

So far, the facts that are available go like this:
May 20-21: Zulfarhan was brought to a dorm room where some students questioned him. When he denied stealing, between 20-30 students beat him with a steam irona belta rubber hose, and a clothes hanger.
May 27: When he hadn’t recovered after a week, two batch mates drove Zulfarhan to a clinic in Bangi where he saw a doctor and was told to receive further treatment on May 31.
May 31: Two of the main suspects in the current investigations brought him to rest in a condominium in Bangi after sneaking him out of the university.
June 1: Zulfarhan was determined to have passed away in the condo at 9:10 PM before he was officially pronounced dead at Hospital Serdang.
From the timeline here, it shows between the time he was tortured on May 20th, till when he was finally brought to the hospital on June 1st, 12 days passed without anyone noticing what happened or without anyone reporting anything to the university. We tried speaking to former and current UPNM students to find out how this could be possible.
According to this Twitter thread, it was possible that the perpetrators kept watch for the wardens patrolling their block the night they tortured Zulfarhan. While that may explain how they managed to torture their classmate without university officials noticing, we still needed to find out why no one noticed anything for a whole 12 days until he died. 
We spoke to a former UPNM student who wished to remain anonymous. They told us the structure of the student body at UPNM, including the difference between civilian students at the university and student cadets under the Military Training Academy (MTA). Here’s how they broke it down for us:
36 students have been held for the past week, as part of an investigation into the death of a navy cadet at Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM). Electrical engineering student, Zulfarhan Osman, was alleged to have been tortured by his classmates after a bomoh named him as having stolen a classmate’s laptop.
While authorities have denied this part of the story, the investigation has so far resulted in 32 UPNM students and 4 UNITEN students getting tangkap-ed for questioning. The four UNITEN students were said to have kept Zulfarhan in their apartment in Bangi where he died before being pronounced dead at Serdang HospitalMinister of DefenceHishammuddin Hussein, has weighed in on the story ordering the Armed Forces and the university to look into the matter.
@upnm Saya telah arahkan ATM & UPNM utk jalankan siasatan dgn kadar segera. Tiada siapa akan terlepas drpd tindakan undang2 jika didapati bersalah
In the meantime, while the police, the tentera, and the university are investigating, we did some of our own digging. From everything we gathered, there were a few things that really stood out for us, and more precisely… here are 3 things we found really weird about the torture of the UPNM Navy Cadet.

20+ students were involved in his murder… over a laptop?

According to available news reports, Zulfarhan was tortured all because of a dispute over a laptop. Sources mention that the student who lost the laptop met with a bomoh who named Zulfarhan as the thief. However, Selangor police chief told The Star:
Who said bomoh? We never said bomoh. There is no bomoh.” – S’gor police chief Comm Datuk Seri Abdul Samah Mat.
While we haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact source of this information, it appears that the claim a bomoh was involved had apparently been raised to Zulfarhan’s father, Zulkarnain Idrus, who told reporters that it was a bomoh who had given their son’s name to the perpetrators. Meanwhile, Zulfarhan’s mother says he could not have stolen the laptop because he already had one of his own.
Seems legit.
According to Hawa Osman, the claim that her son stole a laptop was also something Zulfarhan’s teachers and friends did not believe. For her, it was important that investigations cleared her son’s name. But as the police try to do so, other points have also been raised by Dave Avran, founder of the Malaysians Against Rape, Assault, and Snatch Theft. Speaking to The Malay Mail, Dave said:
If the victim had indeed stolen a laptop as alleged, it could have been dealt with according to the law“.
Which leads us to the same question: Why did the students feel the need to take matters into their own hands? According to Dave, the torturing of Zulfarhan suggests that the students were only using theft as an excuse. But whether his suspicions are right or wrong, the motives of the students involved including the 36 arrested by police so far will only be proven as the investigations discover more.

None of his teachers or friends noticed anything for over a WEEK?

So far, the facts that are available go like this:
May 20-21: Zulfarhan was brought to a dorm room where some students questioned him. When he denied stealing, between 20-30 students beat him with a steam irona belta rubber hose, and a clothes hanger.
May 27: When he hadn’t recovered after a week, two batch mates drove Zulfarhan to a clinic in Bangi where he saw a doctor and was told to receive further treatment on May 31.
May 31: Two of the main suspects in the current investigations brought him to rest in a condominium in Bangi after sneaking him out of the university.
June 1: Zulfarhan was determined to have passed away in the condo at 9:10 PM before he was officially pronounced dead at Hospital Serdang.
From the timeline here, it shows between the time he was tortured on May 20th, till when he was finally brought to the hospital on June 1st, 12 days passed without anyone noticing what happened or without anyone reporting anything to the university. We tried speaking to former and current UPNM students to find out how this could be possible.
Saya akan fokus pada tempat kejadian. Bilik tingkat 4 no 10. 4-10. Di blok yg sama ad 132 bilik 12 tingkat
Setiap bilik ad 6 penghuni. Jurulatih ad 14 org. Setiap hari akan ad 2 jurulatih on duty jaga blok.
According to this Twitter thread, it was possible that the perpetrators kept watch for the wardens patrolling their block the night they tortured Zulfarhan. While that may explain how they managed to torture their classmate without university officials noticing, we still needed to find out why no one noticed anything for a whole 12 days until he died. 
We spoke to a former UPNM student who wished to remain anonymous. They told us the structure of the student body at UPNM, including the difference between civilian students at the university and student cadets under the Military Training Academy (MTA). Here’s how they broke it down for us:
Think of a real army, but with school pengawas instead of officers
According to them, cadets at the university are broken into battalions of 500+ cadets overseen by 5-7 instructors. This makes the ratio of instructors to cadets almost 1:100+ at UPNM. We compared this number by speaking to Suhanraj Rajasegarana Malaysian graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where the last hazing death happened over a century ago in 1900.
At West Point, Suhanraj told us that for each company of 120 cadets, there would usually be one senior non-commissioned officerand one officer jaga-ing them during the day, bringing the officer-cadet ratio to 1:60. Budden, our UPNM source also told us this:
Even with the ratio of instructors to cadets being 1:100, at any given point, not all 5-7 instructors are there. Most of the time, it’s only 1 or 2 instructors (overseeing 500+ cadets). 
While we think this may have something to do with how no one was able to notice Zulfarhan’s injuries for over a week, others have raised the fact that it was also the start of Ramadhan and a study week for the students. With classes off during this period, it was unlikely that the university’s lecturers would notice Zulfarhan’s absence or for instructors to check up on him as students would usually be studying among themselves.
All this is entirely agak-agak on our part, and there are other parts of the story that don’t make sense to us, for example, why none of his friends reported his abuse to the university or why the doctor who treated him at the clinic didn’t go to the police. Budden, we still have one last question we hope authorities can answer when they find out more, which is…

Is bullying/ragging COMMON in unis or was this just ONE extreme case?

According to a former UPNM lecturer who spoke to the Malaysian Gazette, cases of bullying and ragging have been normal among UPNM students. The source claimed that the ragging culture among the military was inherited from the British to teach soldiers to obey leaders. But then, whether Zulfarhan’s death was a usual ragging case or one that just went too far is something critics and defenders of UPNM are debating among themselves:
While a number of people say the university failed to ensure the safety of their students, actual UPNM students have jumped to the university’s defense including another former student we interviewed. While they wished to remain anonymous, they had this to say on behalf of UPNM:
UPNM is and will always be a great place to study. Since it became a university in 2006 till this very day, thousands of students have finished studying there safely“.
Meanwhile, even Zulfarhan’s cousin thought that this wasn’t a normal case of bullying between classmates:
This may raise the most important question to ask, since figuring out whether anything could have been done means stopping anything like this from happening again. In India, another country where ragging was inherited from the British, anti-ragging movements have sprung up to raise awareness and support victims of abuse including NGOs such as the Society Against Violence in Education (SAVE).
While other instances of extreme ragging in Malaysia’s history may suggest the existence of a deeper and more problematic trend, ragging resulting in deaths have only ever happened once each at a Sekolah Menengah in Bintulu, the Royal Military College in Sungai Besi, and a National Service camp in Rompin. On top of that, while previous extreme cases of ragging have usually involved seniors abusing juniors, it was an unfortunate tragedy that Zulfarhan was tortured by his own batchmates.
The former UPNM student we spoke to suggested that in order to ensure this never happens again, the university instructors should increase their patrols around rooms or any other places where abuses can happen. They also suggested terminating the contracts of the students involved in the incident as a clear message to any others. While these may seem like they fall short of the anti-ragging laws like they have in India, starting somewhere is better than nothing changing at all.

Will this be the last time this happens?

While the police investigate the exact facts of this case, we certainly hope that they uncover what went wrong here and how we, the publicthe universitiesthe authoritiesthe teachersthe parents, and the students can prevent this from ever happening again.
Even though we mention the high ratio of cadets to officers as a potential reason no one noticed anything, we also highlight suggestions of former UPNM students that the university increase the patrols around the students’ rooms as a way to deter ragging in dorms.
Still, we have a very long way to go before we fully wipe out all instances of ragging, bullying, and hazing from our schools and institutions. Until then, we can only send our heartfelt condolences to the family of Zulfarhan Osman and hope that this serves as a lesson for all to say never again.
Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un
By Iqtodabal

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