Pro-student movement group wins big in UM election

PETALING JAYA: A pro-student movement group has made history by winning the majority of seats in Universiti Malaya’s (UM) campus election.

For the first time in over 50 years, the election was independently run by students.

Suara Siswa won all eight of the general seats, as well as 15 of the 32 faculty seats contested.

A total of 70 candidates from five groups were vying to be the voice of their fellow students.

Twenty-five of the candidates contested for the general seats, with another 45 contesting for the faculty seats.

Suara Siswa election machinery chief Wong Yan Ke, 23, said the win was historic because it marked the start of student-driven reforms at the country’s oldest varsity.

“Students are fed up with their elected representatives acting as mere messengers between the varsity administration and them.

“They want their representatives to lead a change.

“That’s why we won,” he told a press conference after the election results were announced at the campus yesterday.

Students were ready for change because for the last three years, campus elections were dominated by the pro-government movement, he added.

The pro-student movement had in previous years been seen as anti-establishment and supportive of Pakatan Rakyat, the then Oppo­sition.

But Wong said Suara Siswa was not affiliated with UM’s administration or any political party.

Suara Siswa, he added, hoped to keep the varsity administration and the government in check.

Although the Campus Election Committee had hoped to increase the voter turnout by 20% from last year’s 66%, only 61.2% of 13,671 eligible voters cast their votes this year.

The campaign period ran from Feb 25 until March 3. Students went to the polls on Monday.

UM Student Affairs and Alumni deputy vice-chancellor Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Abdul Raman said everything was done democratically.

“It was an excellent experience for the students and I am very proud of everyone who turned up,” he said, adding that there was a need to raise awareness and imp­rove processes and logistics to increase voter turnout.