Moral victory for student politics

By G Vinod, FMT

PETALING JAYA: Student activists hailed the Court of Appeal’s decison as a victory for student politics and freedom of speech.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) student activist Muhammad Hilman Idham described it as a historic moment for student politics.

Earlier today, a three-men bench Court of Appeal ruled the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) as unconstitutional as it violates freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

Two judges, Hishammuddin Yunus and Linton Albert ruled in favour of the students while Low Hop Bing dissented.

In April 2010, Hilman, Woon King Chai, Ismail Aminuddin and Azlin Shafina Adza were caught campaigning during the Hulu Selangor by-election, which was in breach of the UUCA.

The four then challenged UKM in the High Court for allegedly violating their freedom of expression which is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.

However, the High Court dismissed their case, prompting them to appeal against the decision.

Hilman said he was happy that their sacrifice was recognised by the Court of Appeal.

“The court’s decision is in tandem with our belief that students should be allowed to decide for themselves,” said Hilman.

He also said that students, being tomorrow’s leaders , must be empowered to make decision for themselves first before they could make decisions for the benefit of the nation.

“And the court agreed to this argument when it called for the UUCA to be amended to allow students the right to express themselves without any unnecessary restrictions,” he said.

Hilman said the counsel for UKM, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, had indicated that he would appeal against the verdict at the Federal Court on behalf of UKM soon.

“No matter what the outcome at the Federal Court is, we will continue to press for freedom of speech and academic freedom,” he said.