Graduates attend the International Islamic University Malaysia’s 34th convocation ceremony in Gombak in November 2018 (Photo: www.malaymail.com)
 
Kuala Lumpur (VNA) - Malaysia's Cabinet has approved legal amendments that will allow college and university students to participate in political activities on campus.

The amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) 1971 will involve abolishing sections which curtail students' questioning of politicians and prevent students from engaging in party events where they study, said Malaysian Education Minister Maszlee Malik in a media statement.

He said this move is in line with the political transformation brought by the government in strengthening democracy and to provide more room for university students to speak up and engage in political activities on campus.

This move will also produce graduates who are "balanced" and able to "express opinions" on current issues, he said.

The Malaysian government has also announced plans to lower the voting age to 18 years old, from 21 years old currently.

The UUCA provisions were tightened up to restrict student activism in 1975, after the landmark Baling protests of December 1974.

That was when thousands of university students demonstrated in the small town of Baling, Kedah, in solidarity with rubber tappers who were struggling to make ends meet after global rubber prices collapsed.

They were led by then-prominent student activists like Malaysia’s current prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim and social activist Hishamuddin Rais.

Since 1975, the restrictions have applied to students not only at public universities, but also at private higher education institutions, polytechnics, community colleges and teacher institutes.

Maszlee said that the draft bill on the proposed amendment of several UUCA provisions is expected to be tabled at the country’s current Parliament session, which will end in mid-December.-VNA