Chapter one provides the background of the study, the problem statement, research objectives, research questions and other pertaining data regarding our research on participation of undergraduate student in politics by obtaining the perception of undergraduate student towards the amendment of Universities and University College Act (UUCA) 2012 that become the manifestations to allow students to participate in politics.
1.1 Background of the study
According to Junaidi Abu Bakar in his book entitled Mahasiswa, Politik dan Undang-undang (1933), the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 was drafted by the Minister of Education, Dato Hussein Onn in the Parliament on 18 March 1971. Prior to the objective of designing Universities and University College Act 1971 (UUCA) by the Ministry of Education is to provide a guideline for the establishment, maintenance and the administration of the university. However, the implementation of Universities and University College Act (UUCA) were against by the university students. On that time, a student acknowledged UUCA as a tool to restrict their freedom of speech and ends the autonomy of university. Students believe the establishment of UUCA is contrary with the democratic principles that practice in Malaysia.
There are several factors occurred that urged the government to established Universities and University College Act (UUCA) in Malaysia. According to Junaidi Abu Bakar in his book entitled Mahasiswa, Politik dan Undang-undang (1933) stated one of the factor that why Malaysian government have to implement UUCA are due to the involvement of university student in General Election on 10 May 1969. In this Election, student was involved directly in the politics and posses freedom to promote their own manifesto and conducted political speech in public. According to Milne and Mauzy, (1982) cited by Junaidi Abu Bakar, (1993), Persatuan Mahasiswa Universiti Malaya (PMUM) had shows their support and organized a campaign on Partai Rakyat. PMUM also distributed 100 000 copies of manifesto to show their dissatisfaction against the Malaysian government.
Other events that had urged Malaysian government to established Universities and University College Act (UUCA) is due to the death of one of the member of Labor Party of Malaya due to the shooting event in Jalan Kepong. In result, Labor Party has received support and sympathy from Persatuan Mahasiswa Universiti Malaya (PMUM). PMUM expressed their supported through press releases. Following the event, Labour Party of Malaya held a funeral procession on 9 and 10 May 1969 and attended by 10,000 of peoples (Berita Harian, 10 May Cited by Junaidi Abu Bakar, 1993).
In an effort to overthrow the rule of Tunku Abdul Rahman, many university students have organized excessive campaign. In this campaign, students urged Tunku to resign from his position. Besides organizing a campaign, student are also conducted several demonstration in campus in order to gain support from other students. Due to the demonstration, four of the students have been detained by the police officer. Later, Tunku Abdul Rahman had to resign in order to defuse the student demonstrations (Junaidi Abu Bakar, 1993). In addition, other factor that contributed to the established of UUCA is following to the formation of Socialists Club in University Malaya on September 1967. Socialists Club formed Speaker Corner in order to attract other student in the University to debate on their preferred issues. According to Muhammad Abu Bakar, (1973) cited by Junaidi Abu Bakar, (1993) the establishment of Socialist club in University Malaya has increased student participation in politics by using speaker corner.
According to Saifuddin Abdullah (2009), student at that time were classified as outspoken, radical and posses political freedom. Student used student corner to promote their manifesto and dissatisfaction through several demonstrations against government. Student also expressed their sympathy and support for Opposition Parties and the Labour Party of Malaya. Due to the several occurrences happened, Universities and University College Act (UUCA) is established. Prior to the establishment, the movements of student organization such as Kesatuan Melayu Muda (KMM), Persatuan Mahasiswa Universiti Malaya (PMUM), Persatuan Mahasiswa Islam UM (PMIUM), Persatuan Bahasa Melayu Universiti Malaya (PBMUM), Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar-pelajar Malaysia (PKPM), Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar-pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM) and the Socialist Club of the University of Malaya have become paralyzed and not active (Saifuddin Abdullah, 2009).
However, Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS), Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar-Pelajar Malaysia (PKPM) and Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar-Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM) still continued urged government to abolish UUCA, but the movement is slow. In 1975, the Minister of Education at that time, Dr. Mahathir Mohammad have make an amendment on the provisions of Universities and University College Act 1971 (Amendment) 1975 under Section 15 (1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 15 (4), 15 (5), 15A, 15B, 15C, 15D (1), 15D (2), 16, 16B (1), 16B (2), 16B (3) and 16C (1) (Saifuddin Abdullah, 2009).
Following to the amendment, students are not allowed to give any support to political party outside the campus. Student are prohibited in making a press statement on politics as well as become members of any organization and political party outside campus. According to Baharudin Ali Masrom (1988), he stated the impact of the amendment of UUCA 1975 as “Zaman Malap Mahasiswa”. Due to the amendment, students are also cannot used speaker corner to deliver their manifesto, unable to organized or participate in any demonstrations and most importantly not allowed to participate in politics.
Over the years, after the amendment of UUCA 1975, there are many problems arise prior to the establishment. The government has to make substantial amendments on the provisions of Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (Amendment) 1975 under Section 15 and 16 in order to satisfy students needs. Thus, in year 2012, April 9, the Bills of the Universities and University Colleges (Amendment) Act 2012 were tabled in the Parliament by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin. According to Shad Saleem Faruqi (2011), In order to permit students to join political parties, the following provisions of UUCA (and their equivalents in the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 and the Educational Institutions (Discipline) Act 1976 need to be repealed or amended.
The Bills of the Universities and University Colleges (Amendment) Act 2012 that have been tabled by Dato’ Seri Mohamed Khaled bin Nordin, Minister of Higher Education in the Parliament on April 19, 2012. In the Subsection 15 (1) the bills seeks to broaden students’ rights of association that include the right to join any political party. In Subsection 15 (2) (a) and (b) restrict students to become members of the association, and other organization which violate the law or become members of association designated by the Board as inappropriate for students or the university. However, the designation by the board under paragraph 15 (2) (b) of the proposed does not include political parties.
In Subsection 15 (2) (c) seeks to prohibit students from participating in the election for or hold any office in any association, organization, body or group of students on the campus if students hold any office in a political party. The restriction is intended to maintain neutrality on campus. However, Khairy Jamaluddin has proposed to dropped the Subsection 15 (2) (c) that enable university students to hold any office in any association or organization within and outside the campus as well as hold any office in a political party (MyMetro, December 5, 2012).
In Subsection 15 (2) (d) seeks to impose restrictions on student involvement in political activities on campus. This restriction is intended to maintain neutrality on campus. However, there is no restriction on the activities of political parties at off-campus students. Subsection 15 (3) seeks to abolish the restrictions imposed on students society, organization, body or group of students to express or do anything which may reasonably be construed as expressing support or sympathy to any political party. Subsection 15 (4) of the proposed provides exemption to the restrictions imposed in subsection 15 (3) proposed as provided. In Subsection 15 (5) seeks to impose obligations on universities to regulate student activity or association, establishment or group of students on the campus (Rang Undang-Undang Universiti Dan Kolej Universiti (Pindaan) 2012, 2012).
1.2 Problem Statement
Students’ involvement in politics has been in much debate as of recent times. In other country such as Britain and United States, their students see politics as a vehicle for change. Many of these college students want to be involved and consider it important to participate in politics, although they do not know how to engage or doubt their participation have a great deal of impact on them and the country. However, the concept of student involvement in politics is uncommon for our country. After the establishment of Universities and University College Act (UUCA) in 1971, college student are no longer allowed to participate in politics. Even though, some students are trying to involved, but their involvement is slow and student only show their dissatisfactions towards government and gives support to opposition.
However, student become radical and shows their dissatisfaction by conducting demonstration and chaos in the society. Thus, in May 2012, Malaysian Government have make a drastic decision by amended the Act in order to allow 21 years old college student to participate in politics after several demonstrations and turbulence cause by student via the Act. Through the UUCA (Amendment) 2012 which allow student to participate in politics as well as hold post in any organization in campus become an issue either the amendment that have been made by the government is the good decision. The issue of student involvement in politics still been debating either participation of college student in politics gives drawbacks or significant impacts towards all parties including the student oneself and University.
As we are looking back at the demonstrations and turbulence cause by college student, many parties have come forward to respond to these issues. Some of them see the importance of students to be participated in politics and some also see it as affecting students’ learning and the development of the country. Some also said that Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) does not need to be amended because of politics in the university will only break the unity among the students when their main goal is to gain knowledge and get a job to secure the future
Therefore, the problem in this study is that the involvement of college student in politics may bring disharmonious and disunity among student and cause difficulties in the administration of Collage or University. In the statement made by Vice Chancellor of University Technology Mara (UiTM) Datuk Prof Dr Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar in Political Public Speaking Competition that organized by the National Front Youth Seminar held at HEA, UiTM Tower (SAAS), Shah Alam stated that University and University Colleges Act (UUCA) does not need to be amended. He also noted that student involvement in politics in the university will only break the unity among the students. It is because, student involvement in politics has against their main goal to gain knowledge and get a job in the future (November 11, 2011, Malaysiakini).
In addition, Datuk Prof Dr Sahol Hamid stated that the university also does not agree with the amendments to the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA). Political freedom practices by students will only threaten the peace and harmonizes of student in the university. Datuk Prof Dr Sahol Hamid also commented on student that spend their time in politics should used the time to study. He added in his speech, study environment in UiTM is very intensive and student will have no time for politics. He elaborated further on Malay politics today not lead to fragmentation and unity; however, politics today trying to aggravate Malay’s unity while others races stay united in ensuring their survival in the future (November 11, 2011, Malaysiakini).
The problem occurred by a numbers of demonstration and incident that performed by student regarding the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA). Demonstration that involved 200 university students from the Klang Valley area started the rally against campus electoral process at Sogo shopping center. In consequence of the rally, all student that involved were arrested by police Dang Wangi (January 23, 2010, Utusan). Other case performed by student in University Putra Malaysia (UPM) where five security guards were injured when trying to stop a group of student to entered the administration office of Pro-Mahasiswa Division of Student Affairs (HEP) (February 24, 2011, Utusan).
Other incident that been reported that 17 students from Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM), Gerakan Menuntut Kebebasan Akademik (BEBAS) and female activist (PKPM) were arrested after refused to disperse the warnings from the police. Later from the incident, there are about 70 students had gathered and protest against the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA) and showing support to Adam Adli regarding his action in lowering Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s flag (January 1, 2012, News Straits Times).
Mohamed Bukhairy, University Malaya (UM) student, prevents the police officer from carrying out his duties by not giving cooperation and acting aggressively. The article wrote by the Office of the Vice Chancellor Mohamad Abdullah from Universiti Sains Malaysia, stated that 30 students formed students’ demonstrations in university. He obtains the response from students that refused to involve in students demonstration prefer to concentrate in academic matter and refuse to participate in politics. Majority of student believe that student participation in politics may threaten the harmony of the campus.
So how these participations of students can affect the political future and other social issues in the short term and long term perspectives? Is it college student in our country may ensure their participation in politics is the right decision? Therefore, the problem statement in this study is the involvement of college student in politics may bring disharmonious and disunity among student and cause difficulties in the administration of higher learning institution.
1.3 Research Objectives
The main objectives of this study are to identify the factors that motivates undergraduate student to participate in politics and the impact of their participation towards student and university.
Thus, the study conducted with the purpose to fulfill the following objectives:
i. To examine the relationship between political influence factors and the involvement impacts towards student.
ii. To examine the relationship between peer influence factors and the involvement impacts towards student.
iii. To examine the relationship between student organization factors and the involvement impacts towards student.
iv. To examine the relationship between political influence factors and the involvement impacts towards higher institution of learning.
v. To examine the relationship between peer influence factors and the involvement impacts towards higher institution of learning.
vi. To examine the relationship between student organization factors and the involvement impacts towards higher institution of learning.
1.4 Research Questions
There are several factors that motivates undergraduate student to participate in politics in Malaysia such as peer influence, political influence and student organization. Besides, we also questioning what are the impacts that could occur of their participation in politics.
Thus, the following questions are post to seek the answer on the basis of Malaysian undergraduate participation in politics:
What are the relationship between political influence factors and the involvement impacts towards individual or student?
What are the relationship between peer influence factors and the involvement impacts towards individual or student?
What are the relationship between student organization factors and the involvement impacts towards individual or student?
What are the relationship between political influence factors and the involvement impacts towards higher institution of learning?
What are the relationship between peer influence factors and the involvement impacts towards higher institution of learning?
What are the relationship between student organization factors and the involvement impacts towards higher institution of learning?
1.5 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study will focus only in one group of respondents which is undergraduate student of UiTM Shah Alam. Based on this group of respondents, researchers identify political influence, peer influence and student organization as the factors that motivates undergraduate student to participate in politics according to their knowledge regarding Universities and University College Act (UUCA). The researcher also tends to identify the impact of undergraduate student participation in politics towards oneself and their education institution.
Therefore, in order to obtain our data, 347 questionnaires will be distributed to undergraduate student in two faculties; Faculty of Administrative Science and Policy Studies and Faculty of Law from semester 1 until semester 6. These two faculties is choosen by the reserchers intentionally to represent the other students in UiTM Shah Alam and to make ease for the researchers as students from these two faculties have a basic in both subject Policy and Law. In addition, most of the respondent in these faculties know about the Act. Therefore, the researcher don’t have to explained about the Act at the respondent which may lead to bias in conducting this study. The questionnaire will be given based on our sample size which disuss further in chapter three.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The significant of this study mainly seeks to beneficial the following party:
A university is also a storehouse of knowledge through which society can acquire as much knowledge as possible. As we conduct this study to achieve the objectives with resulted to determine the factor motivates undergraduate participation in politics and the implication that arise. After completing this study and come out with the recommendations or suggestions to Higher Institutions of Learning especially towards Universiti Teknologi MARA Shah Alam. The administration of university may use our research to be a guideline to manage or coordinate the matters regarding politics in the campus especially relating to student engagement in politics as well as bring harmonious in campus.
1.6.2 Undergraduate Student
The Universities and University College Act (UUCA) are been amended to allow students over the age of 21 to join political parties, but the government strict in not allowing politics to enter campuses to ensure the harmony in campus. Therefore, the study is conducted in order to examine the factor motivates undergraduate participation in politics and the implication that arise. Hence, the findings from the study may be can be used as a guideline for student in university especially those who have interest in politics.
The problem relating to student involvement in politics can be managed effectively by the university as well as by the student oneself through identify the implications of their involvement towards oneself as well as university. Student that involved in politics; direct or indirect, secret or openly involved may avoid any event that can cause turbulence in campus or other student. Student that involve in politics will know their rights and responsibility as student UiTM Shah Alam. Meanwhile, other student that not engaged in politics may have peace and concentrate in their studies in campus without any turbulence event. Hence, student in UiTM Shah Alam will have peace and feel secure and harmony in campus.
1.7 Definition of Key Terms
The definition of terms is to avoid any vagueness in understanding this research topic. It is important to give the definition of the term used. The important terms along this research is:
1.7.1 Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA)
University and University Colleges (UUCA) 1971 have been tabled at the Parliament by the Ministry of Higher Education, Dato’ Hussein Onn on Mac 17, 1971. UCCA 1971 was initially designed for student to focus on their studies and not affected politics. University and University Colleges (UUCA) have been amended after several demonstrations performed by university student. The Act was amend by Dato ‘Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the Minister of Education in 1975 (Junaidi Abu Bakar, 1993).
1.7.2 Undergraduate Student
Student means a registered student, other than a student at an institution allied to the University or University College, who is following a course of study, instruction, training or research of any description at the preparatory, under-graduate, post-graduate or post doctoral level on a full time or part-time basis in, by or from the University or University College, and includes a distance-learning, off-campus, exchange and non graduating student (Laws of Malaysia, 1 December 2011).
In this research, we only focus on undergraduate student who pursuing Bachelor Degree program and not consisted those who hold certificates or diploma. Thus, those undergraduate students who hold Bachelor Degree program only from semester 1 until semester 6 will be selected as our respondent (only for two faculties that have been selected).
Democratic process requires active participation of citizens especially during General Election. Participation of student in politics can be in term of decision-making and provide their neutral opinion (Weinrib, 2008). In order for successfully participate in politics, student need to be literally involve and aware of public affairs and politics issues around them. Thus, it will be our dependent variable in order to identify our independent variable.
In accordance to Seyd and Whiteley (2002) stated the political participation or participation in politics can be define as an activities conducted by individuals that aims to influence the policies, parties or government through organizing a campaign, fund-raising, and attend political meetings as well as seeking elected office in party politics. Student participation in politics in the campus also engages in formal political processes such as voting in campus elections, organized social activities, street protests, demonstration, students rally, community meetings (Bernard Fournier, 2008) and also organize speaker corner (Saifuddin Abdullah, 2009).
Participation in politics also can be defined as “activity that has the intent or effect of influencing government action either directly by affecting the making of implementation of public policy or indirectly by influencing the selection of people those policies” (Verba et. al., 1995, p. 38). Voting, volunteering for campaign work, become membership in parties, running for office or protest activities are all different forms of political participation.
Research conducted by Parry, G., Moyser, G. and Day, N. (1992), suggested that student care about certain political issues. However, student voice and demand often ignored by the institution and other party. Therefore, student has less trust towards government. According to White, Bruce and Ritchie (2000), stated that when student are invited to discuss political matter in their own understandings, it can develop student involvement and in politics.
1.7.5 Political Influence
Political influence is the form of political power exercised by those who do not possess the formal-legal authority to make and enforce particular governmental decisions on public policy, but have and utilize the ability to condition, modify, and control the official decision making behavior of those in government office who do possess the authority to make and implement the decisions (Leroy, A. W., n. d.). According to Randy David (2012), in the Philippine Daily Inquirer stated that political influence may takes many forms, and by make careful analysis political influence show want people want in their leaders.
1.7.6 Student Organization
A student organization is defined as a group consisting of at least 80% students; however, the president, chairperson, or chief officer must be a full-time student. If membership is open to persons outside of the college campus community, all officers must be students. Organizations may be established within the University for any legal purpose whether the aims are religious, political, educational, economic, or social. The membership of student organizations shall be open to any student. A student may not be denied the rights of access to and participation in any University because of race, sex, or religion and such other (Pittsburg State University, 2012). For instance, student organization in our study is Student Representative Council (MPP), Secretariat of Undergraduate Faculty (SMF) and Gabungan Mahasiswa UiTM Semalaysia (GAMUS).
1.7.7 Peer Influence
Peers play an important role in student lives. Peers begin to develop friendships that are more intimate, exclusive, and more constant. Peer influence can be both positive and negative. In fact, peers who become friends tend to have similar interests, similar academic standing, and enjoy doing the same things tend to gravitate towards each other. So, students and their friends become very similar and able to attract each other through peer influence (De Guzman, 2007).
According to Alka Kheterpal (2012), friendship is a personal relationship shared between each friend for the welfare of other, in other words, it is the relationship of trust, faith and concern for each other feelings. It is a relationship of mutual caring and intimacy among one another. Friend can be social influencer. The influence occurs when an individual’s thoughts or actions are affected by other people or student. The process of interpersonal influence that affects actors’ attitudes and opinions is an important foundation of their socialization, identity and decisions.
1.8 Timeline of the Study
Table 1.8: Timeline of the Study
March 2012 until December 2012
Selection of research topic
Form research project pairs
Writing up the problem statement
Writing up research objectives
Writing up research questions
Writing up the whole chapter 1
Writing up literature review for chapter 2: Literature Review
Developed conceptual framework
Writing up chapter 3: Research Methodology and Data Analysis