Students allowed to join political parties

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak says the undergraduates are mature enough as they had reached the legal age.

(Free Malaysia Today) – Prime Minister Najib Razak today annouced that Section 15 of the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) will be amended to allow undergraduates to be members of political parties.

Najib said this in the Dewan Rakyat today while tabling a motion to lift the emergency proclamations.

He said that the undergraduates were mature enough as they had reached a legal age.

“The government believes in the maturity and intelligence of the undergraduates. In order to respect the constitutional right of the undergrads who have reached the legal age, or age of majority, the government will amend Section 15 of UUCA to allow them to become members of political parties.”

“But we will be strict in not allowing politics to enter the campuses,” he said.

This effectively allows undergraduates above the age of 21 to participate in political activities, barring that activities are not held on university grounds.

Najib, the Pekan MP, however, said that the government will appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision’s on Oct 31, which ruled that the UUCA was unconstitutional as it violates freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

“The government will file an appeal as the decision has far-reaching implications on the principles of law in the country,” he said.

In April 2010, four Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) students 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.

Many student activists have claimed that the UUCA restricts them as adults of legal age to their right to participate actively in politics, if they wish to do so.

Najib’s said that his announcement was in line with spirit of the Government Transformation Program (GTP), which provides for a more open society.