KUALA LUMPUR: After almost five decades, university students are getting closer to achieve freedom to be involved in politics in campus after amendments on three related acts including the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) 1971 were passed at Dewan Rakyat tonight.
Apart from UUCA, two other acts are the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 and the Educational Institutions (Discipline) Act 1976.
The amendments on all three acts which were aimed ending a ban on students of higher education institutions to be involved in political parties in campus, were unanimously passed after the third reading by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik for the three acts.
When winding up debate on the UUCA (Amendment) Bill 2018, Maszlee pointed out that the amendment was the initial move to abolish UUCA totally by 2020.
“If we look at the amendments tonight, even though it was only one section but it is very significant as it would eliminate the siege mentality and culture of fear which have shackling university students.
“The amendments tonight will send a clear sign to university students that they are released from the chains shackling them, now they are freed,” he stressed that freedom however comes with responsibility and accountability.
He also said it is not a form of anarchism when they are free from the laws.
“In their own universities too, there are laws and regulations, similarly university students are also bound by laws outside of their own universities,” he said.
On the reservations of several members of Parliament that the freedom to be involved in politics will affect the academic achievement of students, Maszlee said he would ensure a holistic ecosystem is setup in universities so that they become intellectual fields.
He also pointed out that with the approval tonight, university students are free to take active part in party politics, among them inviting political representatives to campus as well as setting up political party clubs subject to the approval of their respective vice-chancellors.
“However I am confident of vice-chancellors and university administrators under the new Malaysia spirit... the requests will considered and will not be objected,” he said.
With the passing of the amendment acts, all charges still pending in court or conviction under the act will ceased as soon as they come into force.
He added a technical committee comprising academic and legal experts would be appointed by the ministry to look into abolishing UUCA completely.
Dewan Rakyat will sit again tomorrow. — Bernama