On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Amicable way to solve grouses

It is a step in the right direction  as the proposed council would  serve as a forum to discuss and  sort out issues of mutual concern.  One of the sore points among the  students is the perception that  their voices have been stifled.

During the one-hour closed door meeting in Putrajaya last  week, Abdullah heard the 35 student leaders

The meeting was the result of a  recent
demonstration at Universiti Malaya when Abdullah delivered a lecture there.
Instead of  turning his back on them, he
met  the demonstrators.

He accepted a memorandum  from them and
promised to meet  them. He kept his
promise by  meeting them last week.

No one should expect miracles  from one
meeting. But what seems  like a
confrontational situation a  few months
ago has become more  amiable.

The student leaders who agreed  to the
council have shown their  leadership
qualities. They have  stood their ground,
insisting on  changes to certain laws
affecting  them, such as the University
and  University Colleges Act.

At the same time, they have  shown their
maturity by their  willingness to listen
to the views  of others.

It is thus a shame that another  student
group has opposed the setting up of the council.

Even their fax inviting journalists to a press conference was  from Suaram, a non-government  organisation known for its anti government

Any student leader will tell you  that
student representatives have  their own
offices in the campus,  complete with
clerical support.

These students shouldn't allow 
themselves to be used. As student 
leaders, they must demonstrate 
their ability to make decisions on 
their own.

The proposal to set up the council is a good first step. The students should
insist the council  should not merely
talk but must  produce results.

If they want to have a say in any  change
to the UCCA, then this  council must be
able to play its  part. Results are
important to justify their support for the council.

Those who are against the council must put aside their sentiments  and analyse whether the Opposition is able to
form the next government.

If the answer is no, then it  doesn't
hurt them to start talking  to the

No one is suggesting they burn  their
bridges with their PAS and  Parti
Keadilan Nasional idols.

There are good reasons for having the UCCA. It stops student involvement in
factional or ethnic  politics in
campuses; such political clubs will only result in further polarisation among

At this point, the type of politics 
which seems dear to student leaders can hardly be regarded as liberal,
progressive, non-ethnic and  rational
because PAS seems to be  the dominant
player in campuses.

The success of the proposed  consultative
council would depend  on the student
leaders themselves.

Those who have agreed to it  should
demonstrate their sincerity  by being
committed. They are not  answerable to
any opposition leaders if they believe in their independence.

The issue is not politics. It is  grouses
which the students have  with the
government of the day.

The Government has met the  students half
way and it is up to  them now to decide
whether they  want to resolve issues
through negotiations.

At the same time, student leaders must understand that negotiations cannot be
conducted if they  threaten the
Government with  demonstrations.

They must understand and accept that they represent the students, not the
people of Malaysia.

They should also remember that  they are
students and not politicians. While students should be  beware of political developments,  their priority is to study hard.

Now, they are given a chance to  sit down
with the Deputy Prime  Minister who is
willing to listen to  them.

They shouldn't waste this opportunity. Neither should they let  down a leader who has shown his  sincerity.

If the student bodies can sit  down and
think rationally rather  than be
influenced by certain  groups and take a
confrontational  attitude, it will be
easier to solve  problems.

Our student leaders must now  prove
whether they have the skills  to
negotiate, persuade and compromise.

These are the qualities of good 
leaders  which we believe our  student representatives should be  in the future.

To possess these abilities, they  have to
do their homework and  brush up  their language and negotiating skills.