KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — Authorities decision to charge Universiti Malaya (UM) graduate Wong Yan Ke tomorrow over his October 2019 protest against the university’s vice-chancellor is “persecution”, the Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity (Maju) Foundation said tonight.
Maju said it stood by its youth committee leader Wong who will be charged in the magistrates’ court in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow at 10am.
“The charge is for the protest against the UM vice-chancellor during his 2019 graduation Convocation,” the independent apolitical organisation said in a brief statement today.
“Wong Yan Ke is within his full constitutional right of freedom of expression. This is nothing more than an attempt at silencing any and all forms of dissent against the so-called establishment and authorities. It is nothing short of persecution and an abuse of power by those involved,” the group added.
The Maju foundation, which was launched on August 28, seeks to be a platform to promote social and human rights advancement for a progressive Malaysia.
The group has several stated purposes including the promotion of a united multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, promoting educational reforms to enhance equality and unity, enhancing the understanding of citizen rights and civic duties, as well as the promotion of human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation.
Earlier today, Wong confirmed he would be charged under Section 504 of the Penal Code, which covers the offence of causing intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace, and imposes the penalty of a maximum two-year jail term or fine or both upon conviction.
On October 14, 2019, Wong had staged a solo protest during UM’s 59th convocation, and he was said to have carried a placard bearing the words “Undur VC” (Step down VC) and “Tolak Rasis” (Reject Racist) and shouted “Ini tanah Malaysia” (This is Malaysian soil) onstage when receiving the scroll for his bachelor’s degree.
UM issued a press statement the next day criticising Wong’s actions, which it said was a breach of protocol and had allegedly tarnished the university’s name.
Following several police reports lodged including by UM, the police questioned Wong on October 16 for investigations under Section 504.
Wong previously told the media that his protest was an act of last resort after previous attempts to engage with the vice-chancellor’s office, and also criticised the vice-chancellor’s speech in the Malay Dignity Congress held the same month which had alleged racial elements as allegedly damaging to the university’s reputation.
UM vice-chancellor Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim had reportedly spoken about the decline in Malays’ political dominance and claimed that Malay privileges were being questioned, among other things.