Higher Education Ministry vows no political parties will be allowed to set up branches in universities, colleges

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin pledged today that the government will not allow any political parties to set up branches in tertiary education institutions.

During the Budget 2023 winding-up speech at Parliament, he said that the consensus was reached after Perikatan Nasional (PN) Langkawi MP Datuk Mohd Suhaimi Abdullah raised the matter during the debate.

"I welcomed [the matter] that Langkawi raised earlier regarding the establishment of a [political party branch] in university. That means we all agree that it is not possible, it is not appropriate to establish a political branch in the university.

"So, I think that is a decision accepted by all. So I assure you that no political party branch will be established in the university,” he told the Parliament here.

Separately, Khaled said that the issuance of permits for politicians to enter universities or colleges is not under his ministry's jurisdiction, and instead depends on each institution's vice-chancellor.

"There is always a misunderstanding, that when our children enter university or anyone else, we should inform the vice-chancellor or the university's authorities," he said.

"Be aware that if you want to enter people's homes, our ministry does not take care of those things because it is under the autonomous jurisdiction of the university. I suggest that there is no problem but let them know at least."

Earlier this month, it was reported that Khaled told the Dewan Rakyat that the government will not discount the possibility of allowing political parties to set up branches in universities.

He was responding to a question raised by Mersing MP Islahuddin Abas on whether any amendments would be made to the Universities and University Colleges Act (Auku) 1971 to allow such a move.

This followed deputy higher education minister Datuk Mohammad Yusof Apdal's remark saying that the Auku would be amended to provide university students with the opportunity to participate in politics openly, allowing them to become members and candidates of political parties, among other things.

The ministry previously said that it would keep the Act deemed as repressive to students, but would be looking to improve it so that students will have more freedom to participate in political activities.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim later said that the sections of the Act limiting freedom will be repealed, including the sections limiting the freedom of lecturers.