Adam Adli Abdul Halim's run in with authorities began at the tender age of 12, when he convinced some 40 friends to join him in boycotting school for a week.
The 22-year-old student activist recalled how Sekolah Kebangsaan
Brickfields, where he completed his primary education, forced the
children to sit for year-end examinations after Ujian Penilaian Sekolah
Rendah (UPSR) examination.
"After UPSR, Muslim students have to sit for the Sekolah Agama
(religious school) exam... this exam is normally held after UPSR.
"On top of that, we were
supposed to sit for final examinations. So I talked to some of the
students and we decided not to go to school for a week," Adam told Malaysiakini
in an interview.
Laughing, Adam said the teachers complained to his father, who was then
head of the school's parent-teacher association.
"They told him what I had done. But my dad just laughed it off, and said
to me - at your age you've done something that even a 30-year-old
might not be able to do.
"Which was definitely good for me... so when I was suspended by the
university (recently), my parents were fine with it," he said.
This was when, he realised that "this is real... not just syok
sendiri" (for kicks).
Adam was on Jan 9 suspended for 18 months by Universiti Pendidikan
Sultan Idris (UPSI), as he was pursuing his fifth semester in Bachelor
of Education in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).
The university's disciplinary committee suspended Adam for bringing the
institution into disrepute after taking part in a protest demanding
academic freedom and the abolition of the stifling Universities and
University Colleges Act (UUCA) on Dec 17 last year.
In that incident, several hundred students marched to the Umno
headquarters at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), where Adam brought
down a flag bearing the image of Umno president and Prime
Minister Najib Abdul Razak and raised a pro-students banner in its
place for less than five minutes before hoisting back the original.