How to enjoy varsity concerts

The guidelines are a killjoy approach to organising a concert by a group of advisers who supposedly do not have an inkling of what having fun at a concert is about

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The new guidelines reportedly drawn up for university entertainment activities and concerts may be read by some as the “unity government” trying to dance to the tune of its political nemesis, Pas, as well as the conservative elements in wider society.

Higher Education Minister Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who reportedly has yet to endorse the guidelines for entertainment activities (concerts) in higher education institutions, said they will be reviewed, following a backlash.

It was said the guidelines were supposed to maintain the peace and safety of students and the rest of the campus community during such events.

The proposed guidelines in effect empower university administrations with the kind of authority normally accorded to the moral police – ie monitoring the dressing of performers, their musical instruments and genres chosen and the seating arrangements for the audience.

Baffled by the proposed instruction that long hair worn by male artistes would have to be tied before appearing on stage, cynics would think that the guideline drafters have gone overboard with their restrictive inclinations.

These controversial guidelines, if approved, will apply to both public and private universities. Violators would obviously have to face the music.

This explains why the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) Sungai Long campus’ student representatives’ council is up in arms and recently urged the government to withdraw the guidelines.

It also urged the government to repeal the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 along with the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996.

The Utar student body is not alone in this matter. The Universiti Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany) has also called on the Ministry of Higher Education to retract its guidelines on university concerts. Otherwise, the group might initiate a judicial review.

In such a scenario, one could hardly imagine, for instance, Pink Floyd’s stirring number, “We don’t need no education”, being played and sung in university concerts as it talks about rebelliousness against rigid schooling and thought control.

In a sense, the guidelines are a killjoy approach to organising a concert by a group of advisers who supposedly do not have an inkling of what having fun at a concert is really about.

Concerts are where people let their hair down. Chilling out should not be regulated by the university authorities.

To be sure, this is not a call for university students to be decadent or completely lose all sense of morality. Good heavens, far from it.

It is to alert the guideline drafters to the fact that young people have the required intelligence, maturity and creative impulses that should be celebrated, respected and harnessed – not woefully undermined.

Moreover, concerts generally cater to the entertainment needs of students who come from various backgrounds. Instructions informed by a particular religion cannot and should not be applied to all students of different faiths and traditions. One size cannot fit all.

Besides, the “Madani” (Civil Malaysia) administration is expected to be reformist so that it paves the way for a more liberated (as opposed to controlled) environment for universities and colleges and enhanced freedom of expression.

Let the unrestrained control of students by the university administration be a thing of the bleak past. – The Malaysian Insight

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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Dr Mustafa K Anuar, a longtime executive committee member and former honorary secretary of Aliran, is, co-editor of our newsletter. He obtained his PhD from City, University of London and is particularly interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues. These days, he is a a senior journalist with an online media portal
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