Media Statement by Loke Siew Fook in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 12th December 2008:

Not a single MCA MPs took part in the debate for Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 amendment bill, what is the stand of MCA Youth on UUCA?  

One of the most anticipated bills to be debated in the current Parliamentary sitting is the amendment to the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971. The debate at the policy stage stretched over 2 days on the 10th and 11the December. 80% of the MPs who took part in the debate were from Pakatan Rakyat. None of the 5 MCA backbenchers took part in the debate or even follow the debate in the chambers.

The UUCA has always been a very contentious subject and a matter of prime concerns not only among the student activists but also the members of the academic fraternity. Many arguments have been put forward that the existence of UUCA is one of the main hindrance for academic excellence in our local universities as it created a fear environment in our campuses. The implementation of UUCA in the past 38 years has created a “spoon-fed” system among our undergraduates who are trained not to questions and “think out of the box”. This is one of the factors that led to the lack of creativity and innovativeness among our local graduates today.

As none of the MCA MPs took part in the debate, I would like to ask what is the position of MCA and in particular MCA Youth regarding the amendment to the UUCA? Do they agree or disagree to the amendments? Or abstain? Or no stands at all?

In my debate on the bill, I have raised up the issue regarding the definition of “student” where in the new definition mean all registered students in universities including those at the post-graduate and post-doctoral level on a full time or part-time basis. This means that if a Member of Parliament applies to take up post-graduate courses in our universities, he or she must get the approval from the Vice Chancellor. Isn’t this in contradiction with the MCA’s lifelong learning program which encourages one to continue their studies no matter how high is their positions?

DAPSY calls on the government to repeal the UUCA once and for all as it does not help in anyway to uplift the standard of our public universities and its existence will continue to curtail the fundamental rights of our undergraduates and stifle their ability to “think out if the box”. We acknowledged that there is a need for a legislation to govern the running of public universities but academic freedom must be returned to the campus. The UUCA must be repealed and be replaced with a new act purely on the running and management of the universities – “Akta Urus Tadbir Universiti (AUTU)”.

* Loke Siew Fook, DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) National Chairman & MP for Rasah