Sunday 5 August 2012

Two subsections in UUCA seemingly at odds

The biggest challenge for the recently amended Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) is its implementation, because two subsections in the act are seemingly at odds, said Deputy Higher Education Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

“The contesting subsections in Section 15 on one hand say you (students) can be involved in politics, but on the other hand you cannot bring partisan politics into the campus. So how do you balance that?” he told a press conference today.

saifuddin abdullah taylors 050812Regardless, Saifuddin (right) said the amended Act should be left to “run its course” for several years to see how its implementation can be done.

He was referring to Section 15(1) of the Act that permits tertiary school students to become members of political parties, and Section 15(2)(d) that forbids “political party activities” on campus.

In addition, Section 15(2)(c) of the Act forbids students in political parties to also hold office in any student organisation on campus.

The amendments were tabled and passed during the March parliamentary sitting this year, and came into force on Aug 1.

When asked by reporters, he also said he has no personal objection to political speeches being held on campus, but added that a forum would be preferable to ensure that there is a balance of views and students have a choice of which party to support.

In addition, he hoped that students would not limit their political activities to party memberships.

“You can be political without being a party member, but that is up to the student,” he said.

Saifuddin was speaking at a press conference after delivering his closing address at the Model UN conference today, where some 300 students spent three days role-playing as UN delegates of various nations and committees.

He praised the event hosted at Taylor’s College, Subang Jaya as an example of “youth empowerment”, noting that it was entirely organised by students, and the quality of the debates was better than those in the Dewan Rakyat.

The Temerloh MP said students should be able to organise their own campus elections without  help from their universities, too, although this is yet to be the official stance of the ministry and it is up to the universities whether or not to implement it.

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