The UKM 4: Wither our student movements? — Art Harun

May 27, 2010

MAY 27 — I had not planned to write about the UKM 4 as the topic has been exhaustively covered by the alternative media.

Among others, SABM has written about it on its website. An online petition has been started and it can be accessed here.

However, I was startled to read what the president of the UKM Student Council writes on the Persatuan Mahasiswa Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia website. Essentially, in his capacity as the president of the student council, Mohd Hamzah Zainul Abidin actually supported the university’s action or proposed action against the UKM 4!

I find that ironic.

Here they are, four students of UKM, who presumably are also members of the PMUKM, are charged by UKM for allegedly breaching the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 — allegedly they expressed support for a political party, which happened to be an opposition party — and may be subject to disciplinary action.

And the president of PMUKM is supporting the charge! Well, he sounded like he is. At the very least, he is not objecting to the charge. He in fact trumpets the wisdom of the prohibition against students being involved in politics in the UUCA.

When I was involved in students politics while in the University of Malaya in the early ‘80s, I made it a point to attack the UUCA at every available opportunity.

My comrades and I believed that the UUCA was paralysing the students, student movements and was a tool to subjugate the students. The UUCA had the effect of producing an unthinking culture among the students as well as a submissive and subservient attitude.

I still believe so until today.

I remember during the closing of a leadership course, as a student representative, I was invited to give a speech. In full attendance of senior lecturers, my college master as well as the late Associate Professor Yunus Md Noor, the deputy vice-chancellor (Student Affairs), I let rip a full-blown tirade against the UUCA.

I still remember almost verbatim of what I said: “The students are like very intelligent guard dogs, always on guard against danger. But the UUCA shackled us and tied all of us to an old rusty pole.”

The students were clapping. My college master was smiling. Professor Yunus laughed aloud. When his turn came about, he looked at me and said: “The dogs should not bark too much. Sometimes the dogs even barked at cars passing by.” We all laughed. But then deep resentment of the UUCA was there for all to feel.

After the closing ceremony I went to the late professor. I told him the dogs are intelligent enough not to bark at anything which moves. Like a father, he smiled and said: “Be patient.”

I would never forget that.

But now we have a student council, through its very own president, supporting the paralysing UUCA! And not objecting to the utterly ridiculous and unconstitutional charges brought against its own members! What irony!!

Among others, the president of PMUKM said that the government pays 90 per cent of the fees and so it wants all students to concentrate on their studies. And if the students are involved in politics, there might be polarisation in campus.


University students are not supposed to only study. They are supposed to learn and be educated. One studies in primary schools. Even in secondary schools, one is supposed to learn and get an education rather than being “taught how to pass exams with 18As.” There is a difference between studying and learning. That is why universities are known as “higher learning institutions”.

Being involved in politics is a part of the learning process. Being active in nation building is one part of the learning process too. What is so wrong with that?

And since when does being involved in politics cause polarisation? Polarisation and racial segregation start in the mind. It is in the attitude and the prejudices which we hold in ourselves. That translates into our actions, whether the actions are political in nature or otherwise.

One does not have to be a politician to be a racist bigot!

The prohibition against students being involved in politics or to even express support for a political party is unconstitutional. The Constitution guarantees, among others, every citizen’s freedom of association. The right to vote is also enshrined in the Constitution. Freedom of speech is also guaranteed.

Now, if a student votes in an election, wouldn’t that amount to expressing support for a political party? Would all students who vote in an election be hauled up and charged under the UUCA then?

What crap is that?

Our students have obviously become lame. This is obviously due to years and years of indoctrination and idolatry. Years and years of being mentally abused by the likes of BTN and its ilk. Years and years of being treated like lambs instead of barking guard dogs.

If the students themselves do not appear to know, let alone to want to protect their rights, I shudder to think of the quality of our future leaders. —

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.





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