Minister of High Education, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said that he plans to table the amendments in parliament by the end of this year. Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (DEMA) appeals that new Minister of High Education don’t cheat student and people again.
If Minister of High Education sincerely would like to amend UUCA, Ministry of Higher Education should be more transparent in making and announcing any decision about the amendments, so that the public can access to the information, and let public involve in giving ideas and participating in the amendment of UUCA.
Besides that, Minister of High Education also needs to announce the master plan of amendment of UUCA, so that the public can monitor the process of amendment.
Flashing back on the ministry’s poor track record, we still remember that quite a number of ministers including former Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and former deputy Prime Minister. Anwar Ibrahim had mentioned about amendments on UUCA but nothing resulted from that.
In January 1994, the Ministerof Education, Dr Sulaiman Haji Daud promised that UUCA will be reviewed and announced that a committee was formed for this purpose but there was no follow-up on it.
Moreover, former Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad had delayed the UUCA amendment bill in several parliamentary sessions after he became Minister of High Education since 2006. Till 12th general election, there isn’t any concrete result on it.
All the above will definitely make students and public worry about the efficiency of the Barisan National government. DEMA would question the sincerity of the ministry and doubt if following actions will come after the words.
DEMA feels that the Ministry of Higher Education should provide an opportunity for the university students to join in the debate and discussion to ensure that participative democracy is practiced, and bottom-up policy is implemented.
We also noted that Ministry of Higher Education has not replied to the letters sent by DEMA and other student groups to meet with the Minister and discuss on student issues. DEMA will send letter to Ministry of Higher Education again, and we hope we can meet with new Minister of Higher Education on May 2008 to propose our agenda to the Ministry.
Dema remains doubtful towards the top-down policy of the Ministry of Higher Education. This is because we were cheated by the top-down policy since many years ago. We have been waiting for many years, enough is enough.
Our stand is that the UUCA should be abolished and replaced with a new university act. The Act should protect our basic rights, and use the bottom-up legal base, which is drafted by students and proposed to Higher Education Ministry. UUCA is one of the laws that have been used to curb student activism since 1971 with freedom of expression and freedom of association disallowed in public universities. Thus, these freedom and rights should be protected, not violated by the university act.
Ong Jing Cheng
Secretary of international affair
Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)