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Monday November 4, 2013 MYT 11:43:00 AM
Monday November 4, 2013 MYT 11:45:52 AM
by rahmah ghazali
PETALING JAYA: The major victory of anti-establishment groups at the on-going campus elections is not an indication that the students are leaning towards the opposition in the wake of May 5 general election.
This was despite a surge in number of seats garnered by the anti-establishment movement that is dubbed pro-Mahasiswa (pro-students or pro-M).
In some campus polls, pro-M even denied the two-thirds majority held by pro-establishment group called pro-Aspirasi (pro-A).
The situation was evident in Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) where pro-A movement recorded a major loss of 19 seats from 34 seats they held last year, while the pro-M group went from only one seat to 13 seats this session.
Six seats went to pro-A spliter group, Hijrah and two seats went to independent candidates.
UUM deputy vice-chancellor Assoc Prof Dr Malek Husin said this year's voting trend was due to the campaigning methods that did not allow students to campaign based on group or faction.
"During campaigning, they were not supposed to bring in posters that depict the party they belong to. They had to be black and white in colour so the students could vote based on individuality," he said, when contacted.
However, he conceded that inevitably, the students would form groups based on the results although it was never a campus principle to call the students as pro-establishment or anti-establishment.
Malek said there was a difference between the campus election and national politics because the students, regardless which group they belong to, need to work together in making the campus a better place to live in.
"They have to come up with suggestions and talk to us (the administration) on how to improve the living condition in the campus. If they want to be involved in politics outside campus, by all means go ahead, the university will not stop them," he said.
Taking a different stand, Universiti Malaya Assoc Prof Azmi Sharom said the previous general election had a role to play in this year's campus polls as the youth are becoming more vocal and outspoken.
"Nowadays, it is hard to just give one point of view as they have access to information and alternative views easily. Therefore, I wouldn't be surprised if there are incentives to vote for pro-M even at an isolated university like UUM," he said, adding that it was a courageous move by the students.
Meanwhile, pro-A group managed to hold on to power in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) although the number of seats was decreased from 38 to 15 seats this year
As for pro-M, they bagged nine seats, compared to only three last year.
USM pro-A representative Ahmad Azmir Meerasa contributed their setback to the low voter turnout as the polls were clashed with classes and tutorials.
He also said that both pro-A and pro-M groups had an equal number of supporters and that the competition was a level playing field.
"In USM, 10 percent would support pro-A and 10 percent would support pro-M. The rest would vote based on individuality and their decision isn't influenced by any faction," said the 22-year-old accounting student when contacted.
He said USM has been pro-A stronghold as the candidates had a good track record and had been taking care of the students' welfare.
In Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), which is a pro-M forte, it managed to garner 22 seats, an addition of three seats from last year's 19 seats.
Their representative Azim Fitri Zainal Abidin said the students are becoming more open and mature in campus politics, for example by holding a public debate between the two candidates.
"Last year, our candidates had a hard time campaigning on the ground but this year the administration is more open and welcomes our views. The debate was also a good example for the candidates to convince the voters," he said.
In Universiti Islam Antarabangsa, pro-M group won 22 seats, defeating pro-A which (one seat) and independent candidates (two seats).
In Universiti Malaysia Sabah, pro-A won six seats and pro-M one seat.
Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia are expected to hold their elections this month.
Tags / Keywords:
Politics, Campus elections, Universities
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