PETALING JAYA: A DAP assemblyman has lambasted the higher education ministry for a recent town hall on the Universities and University Colleges Act (Auku) 1971, claiming it turned into a “brainwashing session”.
Tanah Rata assemblyman Ho Chi Yang claimed that ministry officials had ignored the demands of students to abolish the controversial Act.
“The purpose of organising a town hall was to provide a two-way platform for communication, allowing the higher education ministry to understand the opinions and demands of all stakeholders, including university students, lecturers, and academics, in order to push forward higher education reform.
“Regrettably, the ministry turned the town hall into a brainwashing session, with the minister and university management imposing and indoctrinating their views on students and other attendees,” he said in a statement today.
Ho, who leads DAP Youth’s university affairs bureau, claimed that the town hall had nothing to do with reforming the higher education sector but was instead used for officials to “boast” about the ministry’s achievements.
“The higher education ministry obviously had no intention of listening to students’ demands to abolish Auku. They avoided many sharp questions from students and refused to address demands to abolish the draconian law,” he said, adding that this left the students dissatisfied and disappointed.
He also expressed disappointment with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who on Friday said there was no need to abolish Auku and that only a part of it must be repealed as it was a comprehensive Act.
Ho said Anwar must be open-minded and reminded the prime minister that he was a victim of Auku during his days as a student activist in the 1970s.
On Thursday, higher education minister Khaled Nordin said a bill to amend Auku would likely be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat this year. Khaled had repeatedly said the government had no plans to abolish Auku.
The law has been controversial because it places restrictions on the freedom of speech, assembly, and association of students, faculty, and staff at higher education institutions.
When contacted by FMT, Khaled said Ho was “free to have his own views”.