Students, activists believe Dr M will unshackle universities

Source: Malay Mail

Placards promoting academic freedom line the road heading into Universiti Malaya on December 12, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — Students and activists affected by laws curbing academic freedom — a legacy of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s previous administration — expressed faith today that the prime minister will honour his word and free universities from decades of political interference.

Two student leaders who were punished by their universities for dissidence told a forum on academic freedom here that they expect nothing less than total autonomy for universities, and they were optimistic that the man blamed for the laws that fettered academia will respond accordingly.

“He had said he would honour his word,” Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi, one of the leaders that led the Tangkap M01 movement, told a forum organised by Fortify Rights, an advocacy group that documents human rights violations in Malaysian campuses.

“And one of the pledges made by Pakatan Harapan in their manifesto is to amend AUKU,” he added.

AUKU, or the University and Colleges Act, was introduced in 1971 in what critics said was aimed at curbing the rise of student activists critical of the ruling Barisan Nasional government at the time. Read more