Saturday, August 20

Mixed response to active politics in universities


Karambir Singh

MIRI: The proposal to allow political parties to set up their branches in universities draws mixed reactions from the public.

Post-graduate student Farah Nazeema Johari believes that there are pros and cons in this matter.

“It can be challenging for students to express their political views in campus for fear of backlash from other different parties but at the same time, it is also

Mukhtar Suhaili

important for students with conservative beliefs to understand the value of expressing their concerns.

“Having political discussions is a meaningful way for students to address issues that might be important to them in the future.

“Yes, there are campus elections within universities for the students’ council. Having said that, there is a high chance that most students would be too focused on politics more than studying,” said the 23-year-old.

Farah suggested that ‘instead of developing political branches in universities, why not upgrade or improve the existing courses such as political science or law’.

“If politics are active in universities, whatever sensitive issues would be the daily debate. I’m afraid the sensitivity of other students would be affected, which would probably disturb the peace at campus,” she told The Borneo Post yesterday.

For academician Karambir Singh Honey, he believed that students should be allowed to discuss openly and hold political views at colleges or universities, which could be done via forums and political talks.

However, he stressed that political parties or clubs should not be allowed to be formed in these institutions.

“There are ways to express political views, such as through forums or political talks, as these would enable them (students) to participate in the development of our democratic nation from an early age.

“Forming political parties at universities or colleges would be too much of a distraction from their (students’) main purpose, which is academic and educational development – one that would enable them to be productive members of society.”

Karambir also expressed his concern that the presence of political parties in educational establishments could bring about the risk of racial and religious polarisation at an early age which in turn, might lead to confrontational politics.

His opinion was based on many parties in Malaysia being generally race-based.

“Therefore, it’s a yes to open political discussions and views, but no to political parties or clubs,” stressed Karambir.

When asked for comments, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) central committee member and PAS Sarawak deputy commissioner Mukhtar Suhaili said he agreed with the proposal for political parties to set up branches in universities – citing the federal cabinet’s recent decision to lower the eligible voting age for Malaysians to 18, as among his reasons.

“I believe university students should be exposed to the political scenario as well as to education, as they also need to know what is happening in the country – they should also be aware of the political system so that they can contribute to nation-building,” he said, adding that PAS is ready to set up its branches in universities.