KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today said that the sections of the Universities and University Colleges Act (Auku) 1971 limiting freedom will be repealed.
He said this will include the sections limiting the freedom of lecturers.
“I will guarantee that all sections restricting the freedom of not only students but all academics, including lecturers, will be eliminated,” he said during the ‘Meet Anwar’ forum of the Youth Empowerment Fair 2023.
He was asked by a Universiti Malaya student about whether Auku will be repealed to give tertiary students autonomy.
He asked the student whether they were aware of the history of the Act.
“The history of Auku is that it was introduced by (former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) to prevent Anwar from going to university,” he joked.
He said the entire Act cannot be repealed as Auku is a comprehensive Act with many sections that deal with other matters.
He said that he had previously discussed the matter with Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, joking that now that the latter had won a vice-president post in Umno he should be free to focus his attention on amending the Act.
On Monday, national news agency Bernama reported the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) as saying in Parliament that it is reviewing Section 15 of Auku to empower student movements.
Its deputy minister Datuk Mohammad Yusof Apdal reportedly said that this will provide university students with the opportunity to participate in politics openly, allowing them to become members and candidates of political parties, among other things.
Last month, MoHE said that it has decided to keep Auku, but will be looking to improve it so that students will have more freedom to participate in political activities.
The existing Act is relevant for matters relating to the governance of public universities, it added.