Mere gates cannot hold back change

Two days ago, student activists from Universiti Malaya (UM) along with supporters of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim managed to storm into the university’s campus and successfully conduct the ’40 years: from University of Malaya to Prison’ public rally just outside Dewan Tunku Canselor.

The way student leaders from Universiti Malaya, with the moral support of other public and private universities and student bodies, withstood the threat and pressure of the university’s management is revealing of the underlying changes taking place among educated youths.

Anwar, an alumnus of UM, had been refused permission to speak. This refusal by the university authorities was interpreted as a restriction and denial of academic freedom by the student bodies.

They stood their ground firmly to prove their case. Umno must have been taken aback by this firm and united stand by the students.

The student leaders involved in organising the event were threatened with expulsion, suspension and a fine. But this only emboldened them further and they were more determined to go ahead with the rally.

The UM authorities had underestimated the resolve and political awareness of university students.

They refused to be treated as kids but demanded the authorities treat them as adults who know their rights.

The university management’s bluff of electrical improvement and repair work did not deter the students. Are students revolting against Umno’s repressive rules and silencing of dissenting voice?

Like the UM students who resolved not to bow down to an unjust law and to unethical practices, social activist Ali Abd Jalil too made a stand. He then had to flee to Sweden to seek political asylum.

He was reported to have said that he would only return to Malaysia when Umno collapsed and the government in Malaysia changed.

Ali had also said that the police, gangsters, Perkasa and other Umno groups were all looking for him and some of them had even threatened to beat him and kill him.

The fact that a brave and courageous Malay youth who thought differently and questioned the excesses and abuse of power has been charged with sedition, imprisonment and is continually under threat is telling on the government’s attempts to silence and prosecute thinking Malaysians.

This shows that educated Malays are losing hope and faith in UMNO and they want political change. Instead of clamping down on Islamic radicalism and right-wings groups like Perkasa and Isma, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and the BN government are silencing student bodies and liberal and progressive individuals.

Umno, now increasingly unpopular, has become dependent on the support of right-wing parties in threatening minorities and liberal Malays. UMNO wants Malays to be submissive and not question it. Umno hardliners use race and religion to blackmail and intimidate non-Muslims and non-Malays.

Malaysians can see the double standards being applied when enforcing the law in relation to those in the opposition and those who favour the establishment.

While Umno cronies become richer, the ordinary Malay kampong folks get poorer and are made to live on government handouts.

Putrajaya’s subsidy cuts and GST may lead to a higher incidence of poverty among Malays, with the urban poor expected to be the hardest hit, disclosed a study by UM’s Centre for Poverty and Development Studies (CPDS).

To control and suppress this restlessness among poor Malays and their advocates, Umno uses the Sedition Act to silence and keep them down. University students are getting to know these facts. Furthermore, the continuous inaction against wastage and leakage year after year makes Malay youths oppose Umno and call for political change.

Umno, the oldest ruling political party, is no pushover, but it is becoming weaker by the day.


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