The Higher Education Ministry will submit proposals to the Attorney-General’s Chamber to review the restrictive Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) which prohibits student activism in learning institutions.
This was revealed today in Parliament by the minister in charge of higher education, Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
He however did not specify the nature of the amendments sought by his ministry. He said that the proposals would be handed over to the AG’s Chambers by tomorrow.
He also hoped that the proposed amendments can be debated at the next Parliament seating scheduled for August.
Although the minister was silent on any details, the opposition nevertheless continued to press him for answers.
Ipoh Timur MP Lim Kit Siang was the first to ask Khalid on the matter. The DAP stalwart queried if the amendments will in any way “free education from the grip of the government”.
Khalid however refused to answer Lim and told him to wait for the details once the bill is tabled for debate. He also assured Lim that his concerns have also been taken into consideration.
“I would to go into the details once the proposal is tabled so I hope Yang Berhormat (Kit Siang) can be patient and wait for the tabling to commence,” said the newly-appointed minister.
Khalid also dismissed any possibilities of the Act being abolished altogether.
Outcome of a study
Fong Poh Kuan (DAP- Batu Gajah) then took a punch at the Act and blasted it as a draconian law that violated students’ rights to express themselves.
Khalid however maintained his stance to debate about the law only when the amendment proposal was debated.
Right after that, rookie MP Khairy Jamaluddin (Umno-Rembau) intercepted and asked Khalid if there was ever a study conducted to see if active student participation in politics coincided with academic excellence.
“We have conducted discussions and dialogues with every party. Once we debate the proposal, I will disclose what the outcome was,” replied Khalid.
The Act has met sever criticism from human rights groups and students alike for its infringement on the rights of students to actively participate in politics. Many have repeatedly called for the law to be repealed.
The law has also been accused as a government tool to curb dissidence among the youths but the government has however denied of doing so, stating that the law was merely legislated to make students focus on their education instead of politics.
-by Syed Jaymal Zahiid, Malaysiakini (http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/82942)