Hazing News

Malaysia: the death of a National Defence University of Malaysia (UPNM) student, naval cadet officer Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, 21

Here is the link and an excerpt

The latest ragging tragedy that resulted in the death of a National Defence University of Malaysia (UPNM) student, naval cadet officer Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, 21, has become an eye-opener to many parties. Many were quick to blame UPNM and the Military Training Academy (ALK) even though such a case should not be associated with the military institution as ragging occurs everywhere, and not just in military schools and institutions. It happens because there are a group of inhumane people who pay no heed to religious education and are heartless enough to torture their own friend or family member to death.

In retrospect, back in March 24, 1988, a case of ragging also caused the death of a Form Five student, Hishamuddin Majid, from Sekolah Menengah Teknik (SMT), Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, who was bullied in the school toilet at around 11.30am by several former students who came to school to take their SPM results.

After being bullied Hishamuddin told his teacher he felt unwell and sought permission to return to his dormitory, without reporting the incident. Around 7.30pm that night, some students reported to the warden that Hishamuddin was in pain and he was immediately taken to the hospital by the warden. Shortly after being warded, the doctor broke the news of Hishamuddin’s passing at 8.50pm. Post-mortem results revealed Hishamuddin passed away due to the loss of blood from a ruptured spleen.

Two former students who were involved were indicted in the Juvenile Court and the case dragged on until the early 1990s. The accused were charged under Section 304A of Malaysian Penal Code for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which carries a jail term for a maximum of 20 years and liability of a fine, if convicted.

The court case had unveiled a few new findings. Among them, how it was a tradition for seniors to give a nickname to a chosen junior in an initiation ceremony. Hishamuddin had been given the nickname “Pell” and had to undergo a “test” that involved physical assault. A student who witnessed the ordeal told the court that he saw one of the accused beating Hishamuddin. He then saw another student placing his palm on Hishamuddin’s forehead while doing a ‘starlight’ sign then flicking his middle finger. After that, he went out of the toilet without knowing the result of the “test”.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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