Student protest driven by unhappy student community, says UM Academic Staff Union

UM graduate Wong Yan Ke (left) and his legal representative Asheeq Ali  are pictured outside the Petaling police station in Kuala Lumpur October 16, 2019.— Picture by Choo Choy May
UM graduate Wong Yan Ke (left) and his legal representative Asheeq Ali are pictured outside the Petaling police station in Kuala Lumpur October 16, 2019.— Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — The Universiti Malaya Academic Staff Union (PKAUM) today expressed its support for a student who created a stir through his solo protest at his convocation ceremony against the university’s involvement in the recent Malay Dignity Congress.

PKAUM, however, expressed regret over the unfortunate circumstance in which engineering graduate Wong Yan Ke had to resort to drastic action to highlight the fact that he felt the university failed to represent unity amongst Malaysians by participating in “Kongress Maruah Melayu” (Malay Dignity Congress).

“The protest itself is likely to be driven by an already unhappy student community due to the many misdemeanours and misactions of the UM vice-chancellor.

“Furthermore, PKAUM is also thoroughly aggrieved at the outright unfair targeting of Edan Kon Hua En who was denied the right to attend his own convocation ceremony yesterday by the sheer virtue of the fact that he supported his friend’s right to voice his opinions,” said association secretary Noraishah Mydin Haji Abdul Aziz in a statement.

While PKAUM stated its support of Wong’s right to express himself, it disagreed with his choice of platform as it marred the convocation ceremony which was usually regarded as a solemn and sacred occasion for fellow graduates and their families.

Noraishah also listed several alleged misacts by Abdul Rahim Hashim including failure to ensure safety at the university as seen by during a fire at the economics faculty in August as well as numerous cases of robberies on campus and failure to promote racial tolerance and unity among the many diverse ethnic groups in the university by engaging in the organisation of the Malay Dignity Congress.

She added that many students and academic staff had opposed the university’s involvement in the congress which took place in Shah Alam on October 6.

She further questioned where were the voice of reason and the arm of justice in diminishing the powers of politically hungry vice-chancellors who used all instruments within their organisation and all political means to ensure that they remain in power, many not fit to fill in the first place.

“UM must act now to prevent further tensions developing amongst increasingly racially charged student groups before the situation escalates,” she said.

Wong had on Monday courted the university’s anger when he held up a banner accusing Rahim of racism and called for the latter’s resignation immediately after receiving his graduation scroll on stage at the Dewan Tunku Canselor.

This was followed by the barring of Kon from participating in his convocation the next day after auxiliary police found a folded placard in his possession which they suspected Kon of using it as a similar protest in support of Wong.

Both graduates were against alleged racist elements in Abdul Rahim’s speech during the Malay Dignity Congress in which the latter purportedly claimed last year’s change in government had eliminated Malay political dominance.

Abdul Rahim also reportedly claimed to have asserted that Malay privileges were being questioned and warned others not to challenge the social contract in his speech.

As a result, Wong was earlier today called in to record his statement with the police after UM lodged a police report against him, while Kon was accused by the university of his intentions to disrupt proceedings.

Among the reasons cited which caused Kon being barred from his graduation ceremony included a Facebook posting in which he “incited” other students to join in the protest to seek Abdul Rahim’s resignation during graduation proceedings.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad earlier today also stated that while students have the right to protest, a convocation ceremony was not the right place for such actions.

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