Amendments made to remove current political activity restriction on students tabled in Parliament

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik via Facebook
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik via Facebook

Students seeking to involve themselves in political activities on campus, there is good news: Current Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik has asked to remove present restrictions to the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA), Educational Institutions (Discipline) Act 1976, and the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 in Parliament earlier today.

Amendments to the three acts will allow students in both public and private higher education institutions to participate in political party activities on campus. Most expect them to pass after the current Dewan Rakyat (lower house) session comes to a close on December 11.

Any amendments will be applied to current, and past, disciplinary actions against students on college and university campuses, with current disciplinary hearings also being suspended should it pass.

During the run-up to the election, Pakatan Harapan had promised to repeal the laws as part of their manifesto; however, they are now saying that the laws will stay, with certain changes to them made.

Students have been banned from political activities after the 1974 protests in support of rubber tappers in Baling. Thousands turned up to voice their support for the workers who were suffering after a collapse in global rubber prices. The leaders of these protests? None other than current PKR leader, Anwar Ibrahim, and Hishamuddin Rais.

In 2010, four political science students at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia challenged the decades-old law, arguing that it violated their constitutional rights to free speech and association, and although they found support within even the governing party at the time, their bid was ultimately unsuccessful.

Maszlee has had a tough week, after comments of putting 1MDB into school curriculum were reported by several media outlet, gaining widespread criticism from all sides of the political spectrum. He has since clarified that he believes the case can be studied in higher education institutions only, and not as part of the school syllabus.



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