The Universities and University Colleges Act 1970 (UUCA) is legislated as a political tool to limit (or to exclude) the participation of students in politics.
Indeed, it was an effective tool during the 70’s and 80’s.
At that time, the medium of political communication was limited. Students, whom want to voice out their political thoughts and opinions to the public, only can thru limited ‘liberal’ newsprints and magazine.
The Act is amended thrice, i.e. in 1983, 1996 and 2009. (Interestingly, the Act is amended every 13 years.)
But the amendments continue to suppress the freedom of expression and freedom of political association of the students.
Let me reproduce the notorious S 15(5) and (6) of the Act. Emphasis is mine.
(5) No student of the University and no organization, body or group of students of the University which is established by, under or in accordance with the Constitution, shall express or do anything which may reasonably be construed as expressing support for or sympathy with or opposition to-
(a) any political party, whether in or outside Malaysia;
(b) any unlawful organization, body or group of persons, whether in or outside Malaysia; or
(c) any organization, body or group of persons specified by the Minister under paragraphs (1)(c) and (2)(c) to be unsuitable to the interests and well-being of the students or the University.
(6) Notwithstanding subsection (5), a student of the University shall not be prevented from-
(a) making a statement on an academic matter which relates to a subject on which he is engaged in study or research; or
(b) expressing himself on the subject referred to in paragraph (a) at a seminar, symposium or similar occasion that is not organized or sponsored by any political party, whether in or outside Malaysia, any unlawful organization, body or group of persons whether in or outside or Malaysia, or any organization, body or group of persons specified by the Minister under paragraphs (1)(c) and (2)(c) to be unsuitable to the interests and well-being of the students or the University.
Literally, S 15(5) is preventing the students (undergraduate and postgraduate!!), in sympathizing or supporting any political party (read ‘opposition’), or opposing any of them (read ‘the government’).
Prior to the cyber revolution, S 15 (5) is practically silent the voice of the students. The newsprints’ editorial boards were ‘over cautious’ in carrying any comments from the students, as well as the broadcasting institutions such as radio and televisions.
However, the ‘unintended’ cyber revolution has changed the landscape, and practically made the S 15 (5) becomes redundant.
Today, the students are capable to express their political thoughts and opinion, through blogging, fbing and twitting.
Well, not only these.
The students now can also ‘following’ their political leaders openly at the Twitter, or ‘retwit’ their political leaders’ message to others, or ‘liking’ their political leaders’ comments on Facebook, or even ‘joining’ the political party in their Facebook Groups.
Yes, the students are offending the S 15 (5) in a way. The vice-chancellor of the public universities shall instigate disciplinary actions against these students.
So, (as at 7.11.2010, 10.00 pm) are you one of the 18,742 people who ‘like’ “Anak Muda Benci Umno”, or one of the 43,338 people who support “Fan Barisan Nasional Boleh Mencapai 3 Juta Orang Sebelum Fan Pakatan Rakyat!!”, or one of the 236,222 people who support “1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower”?
If you are, and you are also a student of any public university, then you may face the music from your vice-chancellor.
But don’t worry. You would not be the first one, the last one, or the only one. If my presumption is correct, then 90% of your university-mates are with you.
So, if the vice-chancellors of the twenty public universities in Malaysia, decided to uphold the “rule of law” and complying the provisions of the UUCA 1970, then most of the public universities may need to shut down tomorrow.
And, that’s a Guinness World Record!