KUALA LUMPUR: A group of student leaders today called on the higher education ministry to open discussions with them on the abolishment of the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA), following minister Noraini Ahmad’s comment last month that the law was still relevant.
“We once again urge the ministry to come back to the discussion table to talk to stakeholders such as student bodies, academics and NGOs and find a way to resolve this,” Irfan Mahzan, president of PKR’s student wing Mahasiswa Keadilan Malaysia, said in a press conference at the Parliament lobby.
“Although the process to stop the abolishment of UUCA has stopped, we are still consistent in pushing for efforts for it to be abolished. The past work of student activists should continue with a different narrative,” he added.
He was joined by other student bodies including Mahasiswa DAP, Mahasiswa Amanah Nasional and the National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students.
Noraini, who made the remark in the Dewan Rakyat, had been responding to former education minister Maszlee Malik about the status of the act which the previous Pakatan Harapan government had been working to abolish.
Critics of the law, which was enacted in 1971, say it stifles freedom of speech, assembly and association in universities and curbs the autonomy of student bodies.
Irfan’s call was supported by former deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching, who said the matter of abolishing the UUCA was apolitical.