Speaker’s Corner back at UM

KUALA LUMPUR: Although not as fiery as it was in its heyday, Speakers Corner made its comeback after a 40-year absence in Universiti Malaya (UM) and Shah Rizul Ayuni Zulkiply took the opportunity to make her mark.

Undaunted by the slight drizzle and the sniggers she received from the predominantly male audience, Shah Rizul, 23, yesterday took up the loudspeaker and spoke on the role of female student leaders and the need to acknowledge their leadership qualities.

The only female speaker to take the stage, Shah Rizul, who is former secretary of the university’s Students’ Representatives Council, said Speak­ers’ Corner was a good avenue for her to explain how female student leaders could complement their male counterparts.

“I felt responsible to speak on behalf of my female university mates and I hope that a more open-minded environment can be fostered in UM. They must see the bigger picture,” she said.

Her courage and conviction also earned the praise of Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pic).

Mingling with a crowd of some 150 students who attended the event, he said the reintroduction of Speakers Corner in local universities was a clear example of the Govern­ment’s open approach under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“I felt good listening to the speakers today,” he said.

“I didn’t get the chance to speak like this as a student, as the Universities and University Col-leges Act (UUCA) prevented me from doing so. But as deputy minister, I get the opportunity to reflect and facilitate student involvement in activities like this.”

He added that criticism offered by students should be celebrated as it reflected critical thinking.

The reintroduction of the corner has a sense of déjà vu for UM, as the university housed Malaysia’s first corner for students in the 1970s.

The corner was then located beside the main library but was closed following the UUCA 1971 amendments.

The new corner is housed at the university’s Perdanasiswa Com-plex.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin approved the re-establishment of Speakers’ Corners last November. The first to respond was Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Meanwhile, pro-Mahasiswa supporters took the opportunity to hand over a memorandum against e-voting in campus elections to Saifuddin.

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