politics under siege
6:43pm Fri Nov 23rd, 2001
analysis It would appear that it is not enough to ban local
undergraduates from active participation in the nation’s politics
for there is now a concerted effort by campus authorities
to have even student politics curtailed.
rules on the election for student representatives have been
imposed this year to stop opposition politics from rearing
its ‘ugly’ head in campuses, students say.
which used to be permitted for a week in the past, has now
been limited to two days in most campuses, they add.
Universiti Malaya, for example, candidates are allowed to
campaign only through videotape recordings or speak at a designated
spot for 10 minutes.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor, students were banned
from putting up posters of their candidates as a means of
preventing ‘groupings’ or camps. The task is now relegated
solely to the Student Affairs Department.
was also a directive to limit the number of posters from 500
previously to only 50. This directive defies logic, students
say, as pamphlets are allowed to be distributed freely.
week, deputy vice-chancellor Dr Mohamad Mansor told students
at a briefing that only candidates with 3.0 Cumulative Grade
Point Average (CGPA) were qualified to stand for elections
when before it was 2.5. The rationale for the change, he said,
was to ensure only students who were able to balance their
studies and extra-curricular activities should hold office.
protested, claiming that the campus authorities were using
this as an excuse to put in candidates of their choice as
some candidates were allowed to submit their nominations and
photos after the closing date.
reply to all these allegations was simple. “If you do not
want to adhere to these guidelines, then we nullify the election
results,” he told the students.
of almost all local universities were originally supposed
to go to the polls today but due to the King’s demise on Nov
20, polling had to be postponed to Monday, Nov 26.
students’ dissatisfaction came to a boil a few days ago, resulting
in authorities from at least two universities receiving memorandums
from student bodies protesting the change of rules.
Wednesday, UM students from various societies and groups handed
in a memo to vice-chancellor Prof Dr Anuar Zaini Zain, demanding
for a postponement of the elections and for the replacement
of deputy VC Prof Dr Hashim Yaakob as head of the elections
was alleged to have acted in a biased and irresponsible manner
by favouring certain candidates in the elections.
UM students also want a university-level independent investigation
committee to look into their complaints.
told the students that the elections will not be postponed
as this was to enable students to concentrate on their studies
again as soon as possible.
he assured them that those found guilty of committing election
offences would be stripped of their positions even if elected.
Kebangsaan Malaysia students are expected to hand in their
memorandum today. The students claim that pro-government students
are campaigning under the banner of ‘Kelab Wawasan’ (Vision
Club) and ‘Tindakan Siswa Bersatu’ (United Undergraduates
UTM student are planning to hand in a similar memorandum to
their vice-chancellor on Monday although polling is scheduled
for that day.
the controversial sacking of ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim
and his subsequent 15-year jail sentence for sodomy and corruption,
the government has been wary of opposition politics creeping
These so-called fears led to student activists Mohd Fuad Mohd
Ikwan (picture far left) and Khairul Anwar Ahmad Zainuddin,
popularly known as Jonah, to be arrested under the Internal
Security Act for 10 and 53 days respectively, for what the
authorities have called ‘underground militant activities’.
is also an open secret that PAS has infiltrated their influence
into campuses for some years now. Some students have openly
supported positions taken by PAS on Islam and were part of
the Islamic party's election machinery at the last general
election in 1999.
then, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has threatened to
enforce the Universities and University Colleges Act against
students involved in anti-government activities.
a plan to be implemented soon, undergraduates will also be
expected to sign good-conduct forms.
these we-mean-business measures has been a quiet campaign
by Umno Youth to get closer to student representatives and
identify pro-government undergraduates.
has challenged the government openly on this, saying it was
unfair that Puteri Umno, the party’s fledgling young women’s
wing, has been allowed to reach out to university students
by conducting motivational camps and educational talks for
Education Ministry has repeatedly denied the allegations and
reiterated that no political parties are allowed to campaign
in educational institutions.
Mohamad Musriff, president of the UTM Student Representative
Council, said students were no longer intensely involved in
opposition politics compared with the situation after Anwar
was sacked in September 1998.
lot of us are neutral. Just because we criticise government
or university policies does not make us ‘opposition’,” he
told malaysiakini when contacted today.
have attended all programmes organised by the university whether
they are organised by pro-government or pro-opposition groups,”