Sombre rally against UUCA amendments
Rahmah Ghazali | Aug 18, 08 11:43am
Dressed in all black, scores of students staged a sombre protest in the rain outside the entrance to the Parliament building this morning.
They were there to voice their displeasure over the proposed cosmetic changes to the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) which they wanted abolished completely.
Representing 13 student organisations, they came armed with banners, placards and even a mock corpse wrapped in a burial shroud to symbolise the ‘death of universities’.
To stress the point further, the students also lied down on the road under the watchful eyes of a group of anti-riot and general duty police personnel.
Tempers began to flare when police personnel attempted to seize the banners and placards from the students. Finally, calm was restored when the student leaders agreed to disperse upon submitting a memorandum.
Minutes later, a ministry official arrived to talk to the students. The students were told to calm down and engage the appropriate channels to communicate with the minister.
According to the official, the students should have just sent five representatives to see the minister and not stage a demonstration.
The students responded that their grievances have been made known to the minister for the past two months, but has yielded no results.
Eventually the stalemate was resolved with the official agreeing to allow five representatives to enter Parliament and submit their memorandum to Deputy Higher Education Minister Idris Haron.
‘Give us the freedom’
Although they initially planned to submit their memorandum to minister Khaled Nordin, Abolish UUCA Students Movement’s representative Ridzuan Mohammad was however satisfied with the outcome.
“Students should be given the freedom to voice out their opinions regarding any political issue in and out of the country.
“However, we appreciate the fact that the deputy minister is here to accept the memorandum from us and is willing to listen to our heartfelt concerns,” he told reporters in the presence of Idris.
Ridzuan stressed that students expect both the ruling Barisan Nasional and opposition Pakatan Rakyat MPs to debate the amendments intensely and fairly.
According to him, the UUCA should be replaced by a more contemporary law.
Meanwhile, Idris said students were welcomed to come to Parliament to witness the debate on the proposed amendments for themselves.
“So the students will be able to judge whether or not the debate is one-sided. However, we have to wait for the debate date to be fixed first,” he added.
Among others, the amendments once passed would see students facing disciplinary action instead of prosecution if found to be involved in political parties or unlawful organisations.
Other latitudes of the altered act also allows for the enrolment of politicians for courses in universities without having to sacrifice their political career with the discretion of the vice-chancellor of the university.
However, detractors have called for the restrictive law to be abolished completely.
For Chinese Version: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/87994
For Bahasa Melayu : http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/88011