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