Unimap’s suspension of student proves UUCA changes ‘cosmetic’, says Pua
KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Universiti Malaysia Perlis’ (Unimap) recent move to suspend for 66 days a student helping to raise voter rights awareness shows the government has merely given lip service to freeing up the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA), the DAP’s Tony Pua (picture) said today.
“The above incident reported on April 21 ... proves beyond doubt the lack of genuine intent at reform by the Barisan Nasional government.
“It also exposed how the amendments fell far short of what is required to give Malaysian students the necessary room to express themselves freely,” the DAP publicity chief said in a statement.
Pua called Unimap’s decision to suspend and fine Mohd Zaini Izuwan RM100 for the latter’s supposed involvement with Watch 13, a pro-opposition programme to raise voter awareness about voting, “harsh” and “unjustified”.
Watch 13 is an initiative by a student coalition to raise public awareness of the importance of voting in the coming general election.
He pointed out that Mohd Zaini, 25, had told a disciplinary hearing that he was only an observer and not an organiser of the programme at a restaurant in Kangar last January 13, said to involve 14 student groups from Perlis, Kedah and Penang.
Pua, who is also Petaling Jaya Utara MP, said while Parliament had recently passed amendments to the UUCA allowing undergraduates to join political parties, the revised law still gives “absolute discretion” to universities to determine what kind of activities and societies are “detrimental” to the interest of the institution.
“The minister had given an assurance that the new amendments will not be abused and that the universities are sufficiently enlightened to use their discretion over the above matters,” he said.
He reminded Higher Education Minister Datuk Khaled Nordin of his assurance that universities were “sufficiently enlightened to use their discretion” and that the amendments to the UUCA would not be abused.
Pua urged Khaled to step in and revoke Unimap’s suspension order.