by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, August 9, 1995:
UUCA is the main obstacle to Malaysia producing intellectuals and academic figures of world standard
Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said yesterday that the Government was willing to amend the Universities and University Colleges Act to encourage healthy debate and discussion in the universities.
Last month, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad lamented the missing of “the spirit of adventure” among Malaysia students, intellectuals and academicians.
In urging students, experts, intellectuals and academicians to be more adventurous, Mahathir said he did not know where “this spirit of adventure had gone to”. He noted that Malays had crossed the seas and subjugated foreign lands and immigrants from China and India would not come to Malaysia if not for their courage and spirit of adventure then.
The Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) is undoubtedly the main obstacle to Malaysia producing intellectuals and academic figures of world standard.
If the government is serious in wanting Malaysia to produce intellectuals and experts of world standard who could be tested at the highest level or internationally, then the government must take positive action to change the ‘culture of conformity and mediocrity’ prevailing in the local universities and nurture instead a culture of excellence and adventure.
Malaysians are capable of producing intellectuals and academic figures of world standard, but the question is whether we have an academic and intellectual culture which stunts the growth of such talents or promote their flowering.
The first step to end the ‘culture of conformity and mediocrity’ and to cultivate a ‘culture of excellence and adventure’ is to repeal the UUCA, which inhibit the free intellectual pursuits and development of students and academicians.
For ten years, government Ministers had talked about amending the UUCA, but nothing has borne fruit. When he was Education Minister after the 1986 general election, Anwar Ibrahim had also announced reviews to amend the UUCA, but the UUCA had remained on the statute book to act as a ‘wet blanket’ to adventurous intellectual pursuits by students, intellectuals and academicians in the universities.
The Education Minister, Datuk Najib Tun Razak, should explain whether his Ministry intends to introduce amendments to the UUCA or to repeal it altogether when he presents a new Education Bill to the October meeting of Parliament.