JOHOR BARU, Sept 30 — Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin has questioned why public universities are being used to promote an upcoming event called the Kongres Maruah Melayu (Malay dignity congress).

He said if it is true that the congress is being organised to address problems of the Malay race, public universities should not be the organisers.

“Since the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government came to power, have the IPTAs been more pro-Malay rather than pro-Malaysian in general?  Since when should the IPTA think about the dignity of the Malays?

“Isn't it the national task and focus of such higher learning institutions based on developing, expanding, exploring and to improve one’s knowledge? Instead of being the ones championing the Malays and their exclusive interests,” questioned Mohamed Khaled in a statement today.

He was responding to the Malay dignity congress that is scheduled to be held by University Malaya and the other IPTAs on October 6.

Mohamed Khaled also criticised the congress, claiming that University Malaya and the other IPTAs are being manipulated by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) politicians.

“Otherwise, why aren’t University Malaya and the other IPTAs serious in promoting the congress?

“Unless the congress is actually run by various political allies of (Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and is not organised with a serious intent,” said Mohamed Khaled.

The former higher education minister in the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration from 2008 to 2013 reminded that the politics and dignity of the Malays are the moral responsibility of politicians and the Malay-based political parties.

He said it is not specifically within the work scope of IPTAs.

“Why did this congress suddenly come about right after the Umno-PAS political agreement was recently signed?

“Is it a coincidence or is this fact that the Malay dignity congress wants to be a rival of the Ummah unity movement led by Umno and PAS?” questioned Mohamed Khaled.

“What is even more shameful is that the IPTA will be seen to be a ‘rope’ for presenting a political agenda that they themselves do not have the courage to say openly,” said Mohamed Khaled.

Universty Malaya’s Malay Excellence Studies Centre is organising a mammoth gathering of Malays on October 6.

Scheduled to be held at the Axiata Arena, the closed-door stadium in Bukit Jalil, the congress aims to chart the community’s course in all aspects including economy and politics.

Prime Minister Mahathir has been invited to give his mandate to an expected crowd of 20,000, including members and supporters of Malay non-governmental organisations (NGOs) around the country.