by Ronnie Liu, DAP National Publicity Secretary
on Wednesday, 10 April 2002
in Petaling Jaya
The students and academic staff of all universities will be compelled to sign the Letter of Undertaking (Surat Aku Janji) in May this year. So far, only the academic staff of Universiti Malaya, PKAUM, has openly declared that they will not sign the letter under pressure. We hope the students and academicians of other universities will be inspired by the courageous act of the UM academicians and reject the latest intimidating tactic of the government.
A glance at the letter tells you that the letter is nonsensical and full of utter rubbish!
I will comply with all laws, statues, regulations, rules and any orders that are applicable to the students of [name of IPTA (¡° University¡±) that are enforced from time to time as long as I remain a student of the University. I will hereby undertake that I will, among other thing-
(a) comply with subsection 15(1) of the University and University Colleges Act 1971 [ Act 30] to not become a member of, or in any manner associate with, any society, political party, trade union or any other organisation, body or group of persons whatsoever, whether or not it is established under any law, whether it is in the University or outside the University, and whether it is in Malaysia or outside Malaysia, except as may be provided by or under the Constitution of the University, or except as may be approved in advance in writing by the Vice Chancellor;
(b) comply with subsection 15(3) of the University and university Colleges Act 1971 to not express or do anything which may be construed as expressing support, sympathy or opposition to any political party or trade
union or as expressing support or sympathy with any unlawful organisation, body or group of persons;
These are the first two provisions stated in the infamous Surat Aku Janji. The letter went on to state that the signatory has to comply with the provisions of general discipline as specified in the [name of IPTA] (Discipline of Students) Rules. This section practically covers every aspect of a student¡¯s life.
And the last paragraph of the letter spells out clearly that the signatory can be expelled from the University if he or she fails to comply with any of the provisions stated.
Judging from the declaration and provisions stated in the Surat Aku Janji, students who put down their signatures are in effect accepting the notorious UUCA 1971, and at the same time submitting themselves to the
Vice Chancellor to act against his or her interest.
The Surat Aku Janji has clearly violated the freedom of expression of the students, besides undermining the autonomous rights of the students and reducing democracy to nothing.
The students were never consulted on the matter in the first place and therefore the University or the Ministry of Education should not force them to surrender their rights. All students should stand up for their rights and reject the letter in toto.
Our students are rightful adults and citizens of this country. The government has no right to treat them like robots just because they are worry of criticism and dissent in the campuses. How would the BN government leaders feel if the students turn around to demand them to sign the Surat Aku Janji, stating that they will be sacked in the event that they fail to carry out their official duties, or found guilty of corruption and abuses of
The culture of fear evolving from the Surat Aku Janji is extremely unhealthy and will definitely stifle creativity and the ability to think independently. Has the government forgotten her mission to make Malaysia an excellent centre of higher education in the region? Has our Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad forgotten that he was a student activist himself, and he should be grateful for the freedom and liberty he enjoyed during his varsity days?
The other questions that spring to my mind are- is UMNO prepared to disband all her student clubs overseas? And how about the pro-government student groups in various universities and the young girls in Puteri UMNO?