STUDENT MOVEMENT IN MALAYSIA,
1972 : Crisis Within UMSU and the PKPM
1972, UMSU and the PKPM were in a state of turmoil. The crises within
these organisations were the
In the absence of rallying points, in-fighting emerged as students tried to capture power in their respective organisations. Whatever the setback caused by this turmoil, it showed that the democratic proses was alive and well in the student movement.
On l9th June 1972, the l4th Council of UMSU, under the leadership of Sim Kim Chiew, was toppled by the Council members themselves.
The conflict between the l4th Council and the editorial board of the UMSU newspaper, Mahasiswa Negara, represented a serious setback to the student left of the university, as many council members were members of the Socialist Club as well.
The students who opposed the l4th Council used racial issues to garner support to topple the council.
Hence, the fall of the l4th Council was tantamount to a defeat for the student left. In 1972, the left failed to maintain leadership of the PKPM.
Hishamuddin Rais, a dynamic leader of the student left, who had become the Secretary-General of the PKPM, was replaced in, 1972.
Traditionally, the PKPM had been led by student leaders from the University of Malaya. However, with the establishment of more universities in the 1970s, many student leaders from other universities came to the fore and broke the previous UMSU monopoly in the PKPM.
1972 also saw the decline in the influence of the Socialist Club. Many of its important members left the university on completing their studies, and at the end of 1972, the strength of the club was at its weakest.
Thus, in early 1973, the club was thoroughly reorganised after a membership drive. The drive strengthened the club with new and dedicated members, and the Socialist Club emerged once again as an important force in the University of Malaya campus politics.
The emergence of the Socialist Club was evident in the UMSU elections of 1973, when many Socialist Club members were elected into the Council and Hishamuddin Rais became UMSU Secretary-General.
Furthermore,1973 also saw growing co-operation among student orgarrisations from the various universities. Student bodies from UM, UKM, USM, UTM, UPM and ITM united to oppose the government on issues such as corruption and the UUCA.
1973 : Anti-American Demonstration
Malaysian student opposition to U.S. imperialism has long been strong. Students from different political tendencies could unite to oppose U.S. imperialism, as happened in 1973.
The Arab-Israeli war erupted in the Middle-East in October 1973, drawing the attention of the whole world. The struggle of the Arab and the Palestinian people to regain Palestinian and Arab territories occupied by Israel was supported by the people of Malaysia.
In Malaysia, students were the first to express their support for and solidarity with the Palestinian and Arab people.
Israel was openly supported by the U S.A., the great imperialist power. U.S. support was opposed not only by the Arabs, but also by all freedom-loving people in the world, including Malaysian students.
On l3th October 1973, students from the University of Malaya under UMSU's leadership, staged a demonstration in front of the U.S.
Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to oppose the U.S. role in the Middle-East war. The police broke up this peaceful demonstration. Tear gas was fired at the students, forcing them to withdraw temporarily.
On l6th October, three days after the peaceful demons tration had been dispersed, 4,000 students demonstrated again outside the US Embassy: As this demonstration was much larger than the one preceding it, the police did not dare interfere.