SHAH ALAM, March 30 — Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) members carried red flags and wore armbands torn from red cloth as a peaceful protest against Universiti Teknologi Mara’s (UiTM) rejection of the planned dialogue session tonight.
The crowd of 120 Muda members and UiTM students stood around the main gates of the university as Muda president Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman negotiated with UiTM staff for 20 minutes, resulting in an agreement to hold the dialogue session after Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
“The point is: students today can already vote yet they cannot engage in peaceful dialogues like this.
“I think it does not make sense,” Syed Saddiq told the media after the negotiations.
The red flags and armbands were also a demand for the government to repeal the Universities and University Colleges Act (Auku) 1971, Muda secretary-general secretary-general Amir Abd Hadi added.
“After this, the students will bring the red flag and armbands as a symbol of peaceful protest and to demand the government repeals Auku as soon as possible as well as to address many issues faced by students,” he said.
He also expressed hopes that the university will not penalise students who took part in the events tonight.
Syed Saddiq said that there are plans to hold dialogues in other universities and that he hopes he can hold them as frequently as he can.
The aim was to converse with students and to bring their concerns to Parliament, he said.
Police vehicles could be seen at UiTM Shah Alam as the university attempts to block students and the public from attending the event organised by Muda affiliate Ikatan Mahasiswa Demokratik March 30, 2023. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Police roadblocks and car spot checks were held in front of the university’s entrance as part of attempts to prevent the dialogue from happening.
When Syed Saddiq showed up, guards quickly pulled the university’s gate closed to prevent him from entering the university.
The dialogue, which was supposed to be held at Dataran Cendekiawan in UitM at 10pm tonight, was meant to discuss the revocation of Auku as well as the payment of interns.
As the crowd dispersed afterwards, they chanted “hidup mahasiswa” (Malay for “long live students”).
Earlier this evening, UiTM warned its students against participating in the dialogue session as students were only allowed to participate in programmes on-campus that have university’s approval.
Before that, Syed Saddiq said that he will still head to UiTM to engage with the varsity students in a dialogue session tonight organised by Muda affiliate Ikatan Mahasiswa Demokratik Malaysia, which was previously rejected by the university.
Students and Muda members converge outside UiTM Shah Alam with red flags and armbands after they were blocked from attending the event organised by Muda affiliate Ikatan Mahasiswa Demokratik on March 30, 2023. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
In a press conference, the Muar MP accused UiTM of blocking its students from attending the dialogue session after it was reported that the university closed one of its dormitories’ gates between 9pm tonight and 6am despite the fasting month of Ramadan.
He also questioned why he was denied entry now that Muda is part of the coalition government when he had faced no problem holding a peaceful dialogue session in the third quarter of last year when the party was part of the opposition.
Earlier today, Mahasiswa Demokratik Malaysia secretary-general Zuren Zulaikha urged UiTM’s management to withdraw instructions to close the university’s main gate, saying that the reason for technical issues with the gate did not make sense.
She said that the action was at odds with the deputy vice chancellor of student affairs’ circular dated March 20 regarding permission for students to buy food for “sahur” during Ramadan whether in the college or outside of it until 2am.
However, at 1pm, the College Representative Committee of the Melati Residential College said that the gates will be open as usual and the technical issues have been successfully resolved.