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LAST_UPDATEMon, 31 Dec 2012 11pm

Why Students Should Not Be Allowed to Join Politics

Quite a number of students are involved in politics nowadays even with the implementation of University & University College Act 1971 (AUKU). Some are even members of political parties. This topic has been much debated for some time now and there are different views and thoughts on whether students should be allowed to take part in politics. 

 

Some strongly believe in the idea of allowing the students to be involved and others totally reject it. The implementation AUKU also prohibits students from participating or expressing sympathy or support for any political parties and disallowing them from entering politics. There are quite a number of students who have been charged under the AUKU and there have been calls to amend the Act especially by the Opposition.

 

 

The Young and Reckless

 

Although personally I favor the thought of students expressing their views and knowing about politics, but to be actively be involved especially in political parties is something that a student should wait until they graduate and are more mature in thinking about life and consequences.

In short, they should learn and experience more about life before blurting out their ideas which sometimes can sound overambitious. I’ve seen students who actively participate in various NGOs and became activists and carry themselves with that whole anti-establishment attitude. The thing is, after they’ve graduated and started working, they end up in the rat race just like everyone else.

Another thing is that I find those students who are active in politics tend to be too emotionally driven. Seriously, sometimes I can’t even understand what they are so angry about. I mean, they’ve got themselves scholarships or loans and a chance to study at a university, which, I think is a great privilege. Why not wait until they’ve finished their studies first but at the same time keep track of the country’s political landscape? They shouldn’t ruin their chance of studying by putting themselves at risk by participating in street demonstrations and getting arrested. Not only do they risk being arrested, they might get hurt during these protests. So I think they should be patient. Three to five years of student life is not that long so they should focus on their studies but at the same time can voice out their opinions through discussions and forums.

I understand that, as youths, we all had strong opinions and tend to be more aggressive (or passionate) in sending our messages without thinking much about consequences. Adults on the other hand think more about consequences, and that is why the government can’t simply implement a policy as they have to weigh the consequences of the decisions they make. But to some, especially the young individuals, they don’t see this bigger picture.

Being young and energetic, students are also often used by political parties to back them in supporting their cause. Students’ involvement in politics has its disadvantage as it could waste their valuable time of studying.

 

 

A Student’s Job Is to Study

 

According to Malaysian Umno Youth Exco Member and Chairman of the Umno Youth New Media Unit (UMB), Tun Faisal, students shouldn’t be involved in political parties because the core purpose for a student is to study. He says the priority of every student is to get good grades and equipping themselves with the skills and knowledge they need from their universities. Additionally, students must also gain as much exposure as possible, especially on foreign countries and culture, to help them to use the experience to serve the country better once they join the workforce, or politics for that matter.

According to Tun Faisal, it is best for students to not be involved in political parties. However, there is nothing wrong with being interested in and wanting to understand more about politics as, for youths, it is important to gain knowledge and have aspirations.

As for policies, they have to listen to both sides of the arguments to see the bigger picture. Also, as students, every cause and aspirations that they fight for should be that of their fellow students and not of political parties. But what is most important of all is for one to have an own view and not be easily swayed by political parties’ propagandas. No matter which side you’re on, don’t be pawns. Ideally, the struggle should be for clean politics. Other than that, learning about other aspects of politics like new politics, political engagements, politics of teamwork and politics of compromise would also be useful particularly for those who are dead serious about getting into it once they’re out of school.

Tun Faisal says, so far, he has never heard of any parents who wishes for their children to be involved in politics as they all want their children to focus on their studies.

“Even if I was to be their parent, I won’t allow them to be involved in political parties. For me, they should learn and expose themselves… they can go overseas and get involved with PBB or Unesco activities as long as they get global experience and as long they can enhance their character and their own self, that is a good thing,” said Tun Faisal.

He added that students can also go back to their hometowns and experience the hardships of the folks there or even the struggle of those poor urban people for this would get them in touch with reality. This is way better than getting involved in political parties and being their pawns.

When it comes to mentality and intellectuality, Tun Faisal is fond of the idea of shaping students to become more open-minded yet, at the same time, critical thinkers. For example, he says it would not be a problem for someone to express their views in Biro Tata Negara (BTN) course. He said he has been to BTN courses and often the participants would inquire about things relating to their dissatisfaction with certain government policies. However, after their questions are answered, they would accept the explanation since they are able to make a better rationalization after having knowledge the bigger picture.

“That is why I say listen to both sides, and not just one side. I support the (Umno) Youth chief in that students be given the chance to express their political views. It’s just that, in my personal opinion, students should not be involved in political parties,” said Tun Faisal.

 

 

Is the Implementation of AUKU Fair?

 

Students’ involvement in politics, especially those who are members of political parties has its negative and positive sides. For instance, a student who actively participates in politics would be able to develop their public speaking skills early in his life. Many influential political leaders are known to have developed their oratory skills during their college days.

For blogger known as Lee Slim Shady, he says that giving students the autonomy to be involved in politics again would be a positive move. He also believes that the government had taken away the autonomy as they feared that their power would be threatened once these students become real politicians after graduating

“For me this (AUKU) is something unreasonable,” said Lee.

Lee, who is also a member of Solidariti Anak Muda, says it is reasonable for them to be involved in politics especially for those studying political science as it is a good practicum for them. If they are not allowed to practice what they have learned in university, how are they going to learn? Besides, acquiring hands on experience is a very effective method of learning. Another thing is, if we prohibit them from being involved in politics, it means that we have violated their rights.

“If we look at western countries such as the US and the UK, the students there have freedom to talk about everything. But here, they are too restricted from expressing their thoughts on many things not just politics but about social, culture, arts… So it is a must for them to be given the opportunity and freedom to be active in politics,” he said.

But, nevertheless, there is still concern on the hazard of political activities affecting their studies. To this, Lee said whether this was going to happen or not depends on the student itself. According to him, by not allowing students to join politics, we are preventing them from exploring their potential. If we look at leaders like Anwar Ibrahim, Rafidah Aziz, Sanusi Junid and Ibrahim Ali, they all were student leaders who were active in politics. And when they graduated, companies would see their potentials and immediately recognize their leadership quality as well as speaking ability during job interviews.

From a student’s point of view, UiTM undergrad Nur Fatihah or fondly known as Tia, is undecided on the matter. According to her, she feels that the students should be given a chance to express their views and get involved in politics. She says politics is something that we are aware of even as a child. Especially with all the corruption and money politics going on, the students need to know what kind of future will be having. However, she feels that they should only be partly involved as they too need to focus on their studies, or else, they won’t be able to secure a good future for themselves.

I’ve made my stand and that is students should focus on their studies and if they do want to enter into politics it would be best for them to do so after they’re done studying. In the mean time, while they’re still students, they can still keep abreast on political affairs to get that head start for when they graduate later.

 

 

*The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer.

 

 

 

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