Student activists will lobby the government to drop its ongoing review of the highly restrictive Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) and adopt their ‘Magna Carta for Student Act of 2008′ instead.
At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today, the Students against UUCA Movement (known by its Malay acronym GMMA) unveiled the draft bill.
It lists guidelines for activism by university and college students, promotion of social consciousness on campus and participation in the democratic process.
“This is an alternative act that will guarantee our freedom, our basic human rights, and academic freedom which has been denied to us for so long,” said GMMA coordinator Teh Yee Keong (right).
The draft bill covers all aspects of student development in tertiary institutes. It is inspired by the Magna Carta, a historical document drawn up in 1215 in England for separation of powers between the monarchy and its subjects.
GMMA said it disagrees with the UUCA review because the ministry has not been transparent about the intended changes, supposedly tailored to ‘contribute to students’ achievements’.
“We are being kept in the dark. We don’t know what’s being reformed, but we are the ones affected. They don’t listen to us even when it concerns us,” added Teh.
On May 15, Higher Education Minister Mohamed Khaled Nordin submitted proposals to review the UUCA in parliament but dispelled any notion that the act would be scrapped.
GMMA is a coalition of six student unions from local universities championing the abolition of the UCCA.
Submission to legislators
The group said it is looking forward to a trip to parliament to submit the draft bill for the premier’s consideration.
“We have sent letters to the PM, the opposition leaders and the backbenchers club, requesting them to debate our proposal,” said student leader Faridzul Nasarudin.
“We would be happy if any of the ministers take this up as a private member’s bill to replace the UUCA.”
Faridzul said a nationwide road show would begin next month to garner support for the bill from student associations in other universities and colleges.
“It is important to build (a generation of) students who are aware of the political situation in country. Only then will we would grow to become qualified professional with proper credentials,” he added.
For years, students and human rights groups have demanded the repeal of the UUCA which came into effect in 1971 and which bars political activism by students and academicians.