By Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — Putrajaya today tabled amendments to several laws aimed at allowing university students to become members of political parties, fulfilling Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s pledge last year to increase civil freedom.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Noordin (picture) tabled three Bills for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat, proposing to amend three laws — the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA), Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 (PHEIA) and Education Institutional Institutions (EII) (Discipline) Act 1976.
Section 15 of the principal UUCA will be amended to include “activities of students’ society, organisation, body or group” which allow students to become members of “any society, organisation, body or group of persons, whether in or outside Malaysia, including any political party.
However, the amendments also state, under section 15(2), that the student shall not “become a member of any unlawful society, organisation, body or group of persons, whether in or outside Malaysia”.
The section also prohibits students from participating in any election or hold posts in “any society, organisation, body or group of students in the campus if the student holds any post in a political party”.
They are also prohibited from participating in any political party activities within the campus.
Najib had promised last year to implement reforms to give Malaysians more freedom including repealing the Internal Security Act (ISA), also expected during the current sitting, as well as the enactment of the Peaceful Assembly Act last year and the formation of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral improvements, whose findings were adopted by the Dewan Rakyat last week without debate.
But Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has criticised the prime minister, saying the latter was only serious about reforms “to gain a feel-good factor among urban voters.”
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