KUALA LUMPUR: A more comprehensive law is set to replace the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA) next year.
This is to restore academic freedom and power to students, said Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.
“We have a committee studying the UUCA as it involves legal issues, the Attorney General’s Chambers, Parliament and a long process.
“We also want to return student unions (in universities).
In December last year, Dr Maszlee tabled changes to the UUCA, Educational Institutions (Discipline) Act 1976, and the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 in the Dewan Rakyat.
The UUCA (Amendment) Bill was passed at the Parliament on Dec 10 by a majority voice vote.
It was reported that Dr Maszlee had assured that any ongoing disciplinary action against university students over political activities would be dropped with immediate effect, following the amendments to the UUCA.
Dr Maszlee said the new freedom would give students the opportunity to invite politicians into their campuses and even set up their own political clubs, subject to approval from their varsities’ vice-chancellors.
On the campus elections matter, Dr Maszlee said changes had already started and urged people to have faith in and work with the government.
“We hope students will help us create more reforms at public and private university level,” he said.
UM campus election committee (CEC) president Vanessa Eunice Scully called on the ministry to remove laws that prevent students from running for elections.
“We couldn’t make certain amendments students wanted because of UUCA.
“It still restricts students’ rights and ability to control what they think is best,” she added.
For the first time in over 50 years, the UM campus election was independently run by students.
Formed last November, the CEC aims to reform the varsity’s election rules and regulations.
Dr Maszlee congratulated the CEC and UM, calling it a historic day for the university.
“It is a benchmark for our demo-cracy. This is part of the government’s promises we are fulfilling, and it is just the beginning.
“After almost five decades, UM students are getting their power returned.
“It should be celebrated by all who believe in democracy and student power,” he said.
Scully also added that previously, the campus elections were handled by the varsity’s Student Affairs division.
The nomination day went smoothly with 70 standing for the polls this year.
Election day was held yesterday and the results will be announced today.