KUALA LUMPUR: University students should focus on their studies first before participating in political rallies, Higher Education minister Idris Jusoh said today.
“Focus on studying. I mean once in a while you can join forums, but focus on studies first,” he told a press conference after officiating the “ESTCON 2016” exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
Idris was responding to the participation of local university students in the #tangkapMO1 rally due to take place on August 27. The purpose of the rally is to pressure the authorities to bring charges against the unnamed “Malaysia Official 1” stated in civil suits brought by the US Justice Department to recover assets purchased using allegedly embezzled funds from 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
“Students have to know why they are in universities. I keep on telling students that they are free to do (what they want) outside university. But if they are so obsessed with going to the streets, then they will forget their studies.”
The Besut MP also questioned whether a repeat of the “gate-crashing” incident in Universiti Malaya (UM) in 2014 was what the students wanted.
During the incident he was referring to, hundreds of students forcefully opened the gates of UM so former Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim could be admitted in to speak to the students although the authorities had banned the talk.
“You see what happened in UM when students rammed the gates. I want to ask you a question, is it good? It’s no good at all.”
Idris pointed out that the government subsidised 80%-90% of a student’s tuition fees every semester, therefore a student must put their studies first and graduate on time.
“If you are in a public university, the government spends RM18,000 a year on average, for you to study. And you pay only RM2,000 per year. I mean that’s a gap of RM16,000 in public funds, you know? Graduate on time, don’t waste your time,” he said.
On Saturday, the various youth wings under Pakatan Harapan pledged to mobilise all its members to the rally. Amanah Youth leader Mohd Sany Hamzan meanwhile was reported in the media as saying that student voices should by right be an “independent third force that is free from any political influence.”