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KUALA LUMPUR: The Higher Education Ministry and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) are investigating reports that a student leader was slashed and assaulted by two men on campus early Monday morning.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said, however, the probe would be led primarily by the university itself.

"Our universities have a high degree of autonomy so we hope that any internal problems can be dealt with by the institution itself."

"Any queries should be directed to the vice-chancellor," he told a press conference today, after launching the Ilmu Education Group, a consolidation of seven education assets owned by Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas).

Gabungan Mahasiswa UKM president Muhammad Syahir Rahimi Sukri, 22, was reportedly slashed and splashed with red paint while checking on the organisation's preparations for the UKM student elections at around 5am.

Idris did not rule out speculation that the incident may be connected to the campus elections, also held yesterday.

"These kind of incidents are not new. It could be a ploy... so we have to look into it closely," he said.

Meanwhile, UKM student welfare and alumni deputy director Abdul Aziz Abu Bakar said the university has left it to the police to investigate the alleged assault.

"We sympathise with the student. Even though the campus election has been hotly-contested this year, it is something that we never expected to happen.

"We leave it up the police to investigate until we have something concrete and official, so that we can take further action if any students are involved," he was reported to have said.