Amendments on laws to give university students greater freedom tabled (updated)

KUALA LUMPUR: Amendments to remove restrictions on students in higher education institutions from being involved in political activities have been tabled in Parliament.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik tabled the amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA), Educational Institutions (Discipline) Act 1976, and the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Dec 4).

The amendments, if passed, will enable students in both public and private higher education institutions to be involved in political activities within their campuses.

The amendments are expected to be passed in this current Dewan Rakyat meeting, which ends on Dec 11.

With the proposed amendments, the rights of students in public and private institutions to participate in political activities will no be longer restricted.

The amendments will apply retrospectively, which will include any existing disciplinary actions taken against students in higher learning institutions.

Disciplinary hearings against students will also be discontinued once the proposed amendments come into force.

Pakatan Harapan had promised to repeal UUCA and other laws if it took over the federal government in its GE14 manifesto. 

The government plans to repeal the UUCA by 2020. 

The UUCA was tightened to restrict student activism in 1975 after the landmark Baling protests in December 1974.

Thousands of university students demonstrated there in support of rubber tappers who were struggling due to the collapse in global rubber prices.

The protests were led by prominent student activists at the time, such as Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Hishamuddin Rais.

After 1975, the restrictions were applied to students not only in public varsities, but also those in private higher education institutions, polytechnics, community colleges, and teacher training institutes.


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