GIVEN the concerns voiced regarding the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) government’s commitment to inclusivity and political cooperation, the recent controversy over MUDA’s exclusion from the unity government’s secretariat meetings becomes especially pertinent.
MUDA has repeatedly requested to join the alliance, but the PH secretary general has not responded due to a lack of availability. Moreover, the government’s reaction to the UiTM incident involving MUDA president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has been considered an unnecessary intrusion into academic issues.
One can interpret attempts to harm MUDA’s political aspirations as evidenced by the party’s absence from coalition meetings and the government’s role in the UiTM conflict.
This casts doubt on the government’s commitment to creating a political atmosphere that encourages cooperation across parties while defending the rights of minorities. The PH-BN government’s recent motions may embarrass MUDA because they exclude the party from critical discussions.
Universities should encourage open dialogue and allow students and faculty to discuss and debate various issues. However, there may be occasions when a university must exercise caution and discretion in allowing certain events or discussions to occur on campus.
It is critical to establish if the university’s decision in the recent UiTM incident, where Syed Saddiq was prohibited from discussing internship rights, was appropriate or an effort to stifle free dialogue on an important matter impacting students.
With MUDA’s attempts to join the coalition being repeatedly rejected, it is worth considering whether the party should look into other alliances more open to collaboration and inclusivity. MUDA may be better positioned to solve the issues that are important to them by joining a coalition that supports their objectives and guiding principles, such as fighting for the fair treatment of interns.
MUDA’s absence from unity government’s second meeting and the incident at UiTM, in conclusion, raise issues with the coalition’s commitment to political inclusivity and academic freedom.
The government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim must address these issues while balancing involvement and autonomy, ensuring diversity, and encouraging open dialogue within Malaysia’s educational institutions. — April 1, 2023
Mahathir Mohd Rais is the Federal Territories’ Perikatan Nasional (PN) information chief.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: Malay Mail