PRESS STATEMENT ON UM CIRCULAR BANNING STUDENTS AND STAFFS ORGANIZING POLITICAL ACTIVITIES
Vince Tan Hoo Seh <quiksilver8218@hotmail.com>: Jan 10 11:49AM +0800

PRESS STATEMENT ON UM CIRCULAR BANNING STUDENTS AND STAFFS ORGANIZING POLITICAL ACTIVITIES




Progressive University of Malaya (PROGRESSIVE) rejects the circular from University of Malaya Registrar Yusoff Musa banning students and staff from organizing political activities on and off-campus as well as inside and outside the country. Such a ban is indeed unconstitutional vis-a-vis the Federal Constitution’s Article 10(1)(c) on the right to form associations and Article 10(1)(a) on freedom of speech and expression. Such rights include the right to form associations and exercise freedom of speech to associate with any organization. This is not what many call “politics” but, more accurately “participatory democracy”.


The circular cites Rule 20, Part II, Second Schedule of the Statutory Bodies (Discipline and Surcharge) Act 2000 (the Act) to justify the ban and is purportedly a “gentle reminder” to students and staff of such regulations. PUM urges the University of Malaya to be mindful of current legal updates and not apply outdated laws on students and staff. The case of Muhamad Hilman bin Idham & Ors v Government of Malaysia & Another (popularly known as the UKM4 case) was a turning point in terms of laws restricting our fundamental liberties guaranteed under the said Article 10. Section 15 of the Universities and Universities College Act 1971 (UUCA) was struck down by the Court of Appeal as unconstitutional and ultra vires against Article 10(1)(a) guaranteeing a citizen’s freedom of speech and expression. Should the Act be challenged in court on the same grounds as the UKM4 case, the law would most probably be struck down as unconstitutional as well. The University administration must be mindful enough not to use laws that are no longer applicable to mislead students and staff.


Besides that, PROGRESSIVE urges the University administration to welcome the increased political participation of its students and academics as healthy for democracy for our nation since the university is now seen as empowering youthful students and academics to take active part in nation building. It is a healthy sign of maturity in our local universities as we showcase our capability to produce quality leaders for future pivotal roles in our country. This is something the University of Malaya should take pride in.


We hope that fear mongering is stopped by all parties intending to create a culture of fear among students and staff to curb their political activities on and off-campus. This violates the principle of academic freedom that the university must uphold strongly as one of its core values. Students and staff alike should be allowed to go into any field of study without facing any ridiculous restriction. This will generate the growth of knowledge in academia. University of Malaya must uphold its slogan “Ilmu Puncha Kejayaan” or “knowledge the key to success.”


Lastly, we would like to humbly remind the university administration of the first ever Yang Di-Pertuan Agong’s Speech read in the Malaysian Parliament on 12th September 1959 that related why participatory democracy is not disloyalty to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, The Country and The Government. We quote:


“It is the product of many minds working with a common aim, to evolve a basic charter for this new Malayan nation of ours – a charter drawn from our past experience and suited to the conditions of our 'surroundings and way of life – a charter of our firm faith in the concepts and traditions of parliamentary democracy – and finally, and most important of all, a charter of our common belief that certain fundamental liberties are essential to the dignity and self respect of man.

“These fundamental liberties are written into our Constitution. They include the liberty and equality of persons under the law, the basic freedom of speech and freedom of worship…

“The Constitution belongs to all of us – it belongs to Us as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, it belongs to you as the Members of Parliament, it belongs to the people as the fount of power.”



Solemnly declaring our hope that the University administration can:



* Appreciate this fine piece of public document which acknowledges our fundamental liberties guaranteed under the Constitution and sets the path for a democratic way of life for generations of Malaysians to come; and,



* Accept the existence of the fundamental liberties enjoyed by students and staff in the university guaranteed under the Federal Constitution,



we humbly submit that the circular emasculating our basic political rights is unlawful, irrelevant and not binding upon us.







……………………………….

Vince Tan Saturday,
Jan. 10, 2015

Secretary
General

Progressive
University of Malaya