Umno Youth calls for amendment to University Colleges Act

(Bernama) — Several Umno Youth leaders want to see amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 to allow university students to take part in politics.

Met by Bernama on the sidelines of the 2010 Umno General Assembly, here, they said university students should be allowed ample rooms to engage in political activism because it was they who would take over the country’s leadership in the future.

The movement’s economic and entrepreneur development bureau chief Datuk Sohaimi Shahadan said amendments to the Act would also allow Umno Youth to get close to these students, many of whom, he said, were exposed to pro-opposition alternative media and would naturally choose the opposition parties upon graduation.

“This is a huge challenge for us; this is also among the issues which should be considered in the New Political Model mooted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“We want the Higher Education Minister to amend the Act,” he said.

On the possibility that the amendment would also allow the opposition parties to approach these students, he said, “There are already doing that through the alternative media.”

Executive council member Mohd Suffian Awang said the Act should be reviewed in line with the change in the country’s political landscape and in the wake of the call by Umno president for party members to defend Putrajaya.

Mohd Suffian, who heads the Barisan Nasional (BN) Youth Laboratory, said the movement was currently implementing several programmes for the youth, among them was the BN Youth Lab on Facebook, which now has 5,000 members.

All suggestions from this initiative would be forwarded to the government, he said.

“Other initiatives include the ‘Jelajah One Malaysia’ (JOM) which rallies the young people to come together to help those in need, including in programmes like house repair for the less fortunate,” he said.

Another executive council member Datuk Mohd Khairun Aseh said stifling political activism among university students would only invite rebellion.

“They should be allowed to take part in politics. The prime minister correctly pointed out that the new battle will be the battle of the minds and we must allow these students to voice out,” he said.

It would be unfortunate, he said, if these students ended up rebelling against the establishment by joining the opposition parties upon graduation because of dissatisfaction over the prohibition provided for by the Act.

“This is actually taking place now and this is what we should look into,” he said.

A Youth delegate, Zulkafli Shamsuddin said the amendment would be liberate both sides — the students as well as the Umno youth movement — of the restrictions imposed by the Act, allowing for a more direct interaction between them.