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Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Tuesday, 1st November 2011: 

Najib should announce full acceptance and no appeal against landmark Court of Appeal judgment striking down Section 15(5)(a) of UUCA as unconstitutional

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, should announce full acceptance and no appeal against the landmark Court of Appeal judgment yesterday striking down Section 15(5)(a) of Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) as unconstitutional in violating the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.

This will be an early test of Najib's political will, bona fides and commitment to initiate a sea change of democratization and political transformation which he had promised after the most adverse national and international reactions to the high-handed government crackdown of the July 9 Bersih 2.0 peaceful demonstration for free, fair and clean elections system - with the establishment of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Electoral System, and the pledges of repeal of the draconian Internal Security Act as well as repeal or reform of the arsenal of repressive laws in the country including the Universities and University Colleges Act, the Police Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Sedition Act, etc.

Najib should know that all his promises of "democratization and political transformation" have evoked more cynicism, skepticism and disbelief than hope, expectation and belief - and this is because the Najib government has not demonstrated any change of mindset and mentality that the whole apparatus of government has been attuned and oriented to the new challenges of democratization and political transformation.

It is most refreshing and inspiring that the Court of Appeal, through Justice Hishamuddin Yunus and Justice Linton Albert, have spoken out courageously, loud and clear for human rights and the supremacy of the Constitution at this particular juncture.

The landmark Court of Appeal decision is most timely in upholding the centrality of human rights in our nation building and Constitutional framework of guarantees, at a time when democracy and human rights have again been assailed as a dirty and dangerous conspiracy by none other than the former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir and the former Inspector-General Tan Sri Rahim Noor representing the voices of reaction in the country.

The majority decision Court of Appeal decision yesterday is no less than a repudiation of the political heresies preached by Mahathir and Rahim Noor when they warned of "a human rights wave" which would be like "a new religion" and threaten and erode the basis on which the nation was founded.

The question now is whether Najib and his Cabinet are prepared to step forward to support the Court of Appeal majority decision and demonstrate a new spirit and mindset of democratization and political transformation by overruling the decision that the University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) appeal against the Court of Appeal judgment - as announced by UKM counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in court yesterday?

What signal and message will Najib and his Cabinet send out on whether to respect and uphold the majority decision of the Court of Appeal striking down as unconstitutional and undemocratic the UUCA ban on university students from expressing support or opposing any political party?

Do Najib and his Cabinet agree with the majority Court of Appeal judges that "Universities should be the breeding ground of reformers and thinkers and not institutions to produce students trained as robots" (Justice Hishammdudin) and that the UUCA is "an utter absurdity" when university and college students faced "the grim prospect of expulsion" because of their presence at a by-election?

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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