Forward    Feedback    


Call on Shafie to suspend all university disciplinary proceedings against students in connection with the recent campus student elections pending review of the UUCA


Media Statement

by Lim Kit Siang  

Parliament, Saturday): Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr. Shafie Salleh should suspend all university disciplinary actions against students in connection with the recent IPTA campus student elections pending review of the Universities and University  Colleges Act (UUCA) which he announced in Parliament on Wednesday night during his  winding-up of the 2006 budget debate.


Such a suspension of all university disciplinary proceedings against university students is vital so as to establish the bona fides of an open, independent and credible review of the 34-year-old UUCA to restore academic freedom and university autonomy to recreate the conditions for Malaysian universities to attain world-class status.


There can be no public confidence, whether by the students, academicians, MPs or the civil society, that the UUCA review would be meaningful, thorough and wide-ranging if at the same time, the various university student departments are conducting a witch-hunt against students for their protests against the unfair conduct of the recent campus student elections.

As an example, a second-year Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) student, Lim Sook Swan,  is facing disciplinary action for allegedly being involved in campaigning against the  irregularities and blemishes of the campus’ student elections.

Her two charges are “instigating” students to boycott  campus election on Sept 29 and for being involved in an assembly in front of the National Mosque on Oct 7 which later marched to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) office to submit a memorandum on the campus election.

Lim,  21, from the modern languages and communications faculty, received the show-cause letter  dated Oct 17 signed by UPM deputy vice-chancellor (Student Affairs Department) Prof Dr Azali Mohamed who gave her less than 24-hour notice to turn up for  her disciplinary proceeding.

I understand that the university will be taking action against more “anti-establishment” students, including those who had participated at a gathering outside Parliament on Sept 21 to call for a free and fair campus elections.

Shafie had announced a review of UUCA before the end of his winding-up speech after I had expressed disappointment that despite his talk about turning Malaysia into an international hub for  education with the capability to attract foreign students to Malaysia to pursue higher studies, he had failed to address the two most important aspects to ensure university excellence, viz. students and academic staff of distinction.

I referred to recent university disputes such as those affecting Dr. Terence Gomez, Professor Ramasamy and Dr. Azly Rahman and the scandals of the recent university student elections which raise  the larger question whether we want our students to  have the faculties of critical inquiry vital for success in the globalization age  or we just want to continue to  breed apathy, timidity and mediocrity.

In response, Shafie announced a policy review of the UUCA, saying  it is now 34 years since it was first passed and students had often raised UUCA as an issue. He said: “Kalau budak kecil berumur 34 tahun, dah kahwin, dah ada anak, mungkin di kampong dah ada cucu dah, jadi kita akan review baliklah.”

I followed up the announcement to ask Shafie about the mechanism for the UUCA review, whether it would not only involve government officials but also academicians, MPs and the civil society  so as to involve all sectors of the  nation concerned about higher education in the country.

Shafie replied that his officers had prepared a list of nominees for his selection for appointment to the UUCA Review Committee  and that the list includes categories which I had mentioned.


He made the appeal: “Bagi saya chance. Baru setahun saya menjadi Menteri, ya. Bagi saya chance.”

I responded  immediately and positively, agreeing to give the Minister “chance”,  but I also advised him to  be more approachable, as up till now, it is  virtually impossible to reach him. I stressed that what we wanted  to see is the success of our universities to attain  world-class status.

Shafie should himself give the UUCA review the “chance” to gain public support and confidence among students, academicians, MPs and the civil society by suspending all university disciplinary proceedings against students in connection with the recent campus student elections.


If the university authorities are allowed to continue their UUCA witch-hunt against students in connection with the protests against the recent campus student elections, then the UUCA review announced by Shafie in Parliament on Wednesday would have lost all meaning and purpose, and I myself would withdraw my support.

I would seek a meeting with Shafie next week before I decide on whether to withdraw the support which I had publicly given to the Higher Education Minister in Parliament on Wednesday.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

Your e-mail:

Your name: 

Your friend's e-mail: 

Your friend's name: