KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — University of Malaya (UM) board of directors chairman Tengku Datuk Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen Tengku Ibrahim today said that the graduate who protested during the convocation ceremony on Monday has been informed that he can collect his degree scroll.
“I want to stress that the university is not withholding the graduate's scroll and academic transcript. All graduates can access and print out their scrolls through the university's online graduate system.
“The distribution of the scroll and academic transcript are done in stages beginning October 12 and graduates can access and print it out from October 18,” Mohd Azman said in a statement today.
On Monday, UM graduate Wong Yan Ke carried a placard to the stage during the university's convocation ceremony while receiving his bachelor's degree, urging vice-chancellor Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim to resign.
This was followed by the barring of another student Edan Kon, 23 from participating in his convocation the next day after auxiliary police found a folded placard in his possession.
They suspected Kon of carrying out a similar protest in support of Wong.
Commenting on the incidents Mohd Azzman said while UM respects students' freedom, the rights of others should be respected as well.
“I would like to emphasise that University of Malaya is an institution of higher learning that always supports and promotes academic freedom and intelligence and is neutral and non-compliant.
“In our opinion, the student's act has disrespected the convocation ceremony and tarnished the event. The student's action showed that he does not respect other graduates who are being celebrated and also their parents, other guests who were present,” he said.
Mohd Azzman added that UM's board of directors strongly believes that the purpose of education is not only to gain knowledge but also to build an individual's personality to achieve excellence through knowledge at the same time instill moral values.
“In order to achieve this goal, it is imperative that students are held accountable for actions so that they can reach their maximum potential.
“UM respects the rights and principles of freedom of expression of every individual under this University. On this basis, UM has always been regarded as one of the most liberal universities in the country. However, in exercising this freedom, the rights of others must also be respected,” he added.
Mohd Azzman said the Kongres Maruah Melayu (Malay Dignity Congress) on October 6 was an academic debate to identify, discuss and suggest solutions to challenges faced by Malays from political, economic, educational, cultural and religious aspects.
“Nevertheless, in line with the university's goals and the principles it supports, the university will be more cautious and implement more stringent and dynamic justifications for programmes that address all aspects of national interest,” he said.
Both Wong and Kon 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 called in on Wednesday to have his statement recorded by the police after UM lodged a 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 the graduation proceedings.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also on Wednesday stated that while students have the right to protest, a convocation ceremony was not the right place for such actions.