Daniel Soon (@DanielSoon on Twitter) is a keen critic of the chronicles of Malaysian life but he hardly writes unless he is mind-controlled to and/or when he is angry. Currently pursuing his law degree, he dedicates his time to photography, law and observing Malaysian culture. After all, he is a bored Malaysian who is longing and waiting for change. What change you may ask? It’s an exhaustive list. From public transportation to con-artistes, Daniel wants to change Malaysia. He also hopes that more students will no longer bury their faces in books as a form of escapism from Malaysian life.
Ohhh! Stupid me.
Remember this statement from my fellow MyConsti member, JR Tey? It’s supposed to be liberation day today (16 September); and so I write to speak for all students still enslaved by the law prohibiting students from taking part in politics.
When I first read the title of the statement, I was glad that finally (ever so finally), the Asian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) had taken a position on the issue. That ALSA had finally come to its senses and released its long and overdue statement regarding the UKM4 issue.
But as I continued reading the statement, I felt cheated. Instead of addressing the simple issue of giving students the choice to get involved in politics, the statement goes on as to why we should not be involved in politics and how ALSA or the “Kami” thinks that students are not yet ready.
As a law student and an undergraduate, I categorically say that I am not a part of the “Kami” that was mentioned over and over again in the statement. I don’t think this statement truly represents what law students want.
There are many different types of university students in Malaysia. They range from those who care about what goes on in Malaysia and want things to change for the better, to those who are more worried about which colour of their shoes would match their tops. Not forgetting also the many who care about the political situation in Malaysia but only show their concerns and frustrations over a cup of teh tarik.
We have many students in private and public universities who know next to nothing about Malaysia’s political scenario. We have many students who actively discuss politics.
I am not criticizing those who know nothing about politics, it is their right if they want to stay ignorant. But for those who are aware of what is going on and would like to contribute or get involved in a political party which they support, they are chained by section 15 of the University and University Colleges Act.
This is wrong.
Students should be given the choice to choose what they want to do regarding politics.
We do not want the Government to decide on whether we can or cannot exercise our fundamental rights guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. In my view, the Government has no RIGHT to remove our rights as citizens of the country.
Who is the Government to say that students are not matured enough to understand politics?
Who is the Government to decide if involvement in politics brings positive or negative effects to the student?
Under the Constitution, every single citizen in Malaysia (which by logical extension includes a student), may decide if they would want to get involved with politics. This is an exercise of the citizens’s rights to freedom of expression and association.
Yes, I agree that it is important to have a degree or diploma. Without these one cannot be a lawyer or an accountant or a doctor.
But during the period of study, students should also be allowed to live like normal human beings and exercise their fundamental rights as Malaysians.
These are the times also when students are able to make mistakes and learn from them.
The Government ought not enforce blatantly bad laws to curb the rights of students. The Government should not, through the universities, make students fearful of exercising their rights by threatening them with expulsion.
Students should be allowed to join different political parties they wish. Let them learn about what goes on in the organisations. Allow them to have a better understanding of politics in Malaysia. Treat them as rational young adults instead of thinking that they are not sufficiently mature.
During this day of “liberation” when Malaysia was formed, let us pledge to assist the student community to allow them to be involved in politics, and for them to choose their own path and destiny.