Stronger Calls For Varsity Act To Be Reviewed

Recently, we heard news about the Internal Security Act (ISA) that has been repealed. I think it is not too late for me to share what I have read from the news recently. As a university student, it is also our responsibility to be sensitive to what happens around us, especially national issues, apart from campus issues. Therefore lets gain more knowledge by reading this article :)

PUTRAJAYA: Calls, including one from the Deputy Higher Education Minister, are getting stronger for the Universities and University Colleges Act (AUKU) 1971 to be reviewed. Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the main priority was to repeal Section 15 of the AUKU, which prohibits students from getting involved in politics.

He added that if the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) could be repealed, the same should apply to the AUKU. "What is the different about AUKU is that it is a governing Act, which details the general operation of universities as well. "Abolishing Section 15 of AUKU not only respects the constitutional right of the students, but it will also increase democratic participation among youth," he told THE STAR.

Saifuddin added that a review of AUKU should allow students to support and be members of any political party, campaign for elections, as well as hold office. "Furthermore, many have complained about the lack of communication and critical thinking skills among our students - the AUKU is partly responsible for this because it suppresses their ability to speak out," he said.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the decision to repeal the ISA and three other proclamations in his Malaysia Day address. Following this, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong, who is also the MCA Youth Chief, had proposed that the Act be changed to enable students to participate in political activities. In 2009, substantial amendments were made to AUKU including allowing students to join any organisation without any prior permission from university authorities; and removing all criminal penalties for students who violated university laws.

However, students are still prohibited from joining political parties, organisations declared to be unlawful, and any organisation specified by the Higher Education Minister as being unsuitable for student involvement. University Malaya's Students Representative Council treasurer Kelvin Tee said abolishing the AUKU would allow greater youth participation in the democratic process.

"It is important for students to be exposed to current affairs. "It's not just about studying and books; we need to know what's happening in the country," he said. Universiti Putra Malaysia's pro-Mahasiswa spokesman Mohd Ramzul Nasri Kamarusaman said "the time is ripe" for a repeal of the Act.

However, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's pro-Aspirasi member Siti Nur Hidayah Ismail said she was happy with AUKU as it stands. "We only barred from getting involved in politics, which makes no difference to me. "Students have alternative ways to connect with community besides politics, such as through social works and cultural activities," she said. -SUNDAY STAR, 18 September 2011.

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