The perfect place to protest — Tarak Singh

OCTOBER 21 — There are some serious questions racing in my mind after the hullabaloo of last week.

It all began with the student who protested at the Universiti of Malaya (UM) convocation ceremony and resulted in a rather torn nation: those who celebrated the engineering student and his bravery at standing up for his beliefs and those who disapproved of Wong Yan Ke and the way he conducted his protest.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was among the disapproving and claimed that the convocation ceremony was the wrong place to voice dissent.

My question for the latter group as well as Dr Mahathir is this: Where exactly IS the right place to protest?

Is it not the place that will attract the most attention to your cause? Is it not the place where the one you are protesting against rules supreme? Is it not the place that is supposed to educate and encourage students to voice their opinions?

Because to me it seems that the convocation ceremony was the absolute perfect choice for the young activist as the stage for his peaceful and striking protest.

To me, the exaggerated response from the Universiti of Malaya including lodging a police report and withholding Wong Yan Ke’s certificate (yes, we know you withheld it intentionally) is testimony to the great success of the protest.

It proved Wong had hit a soft spot, exposed a weakness, and may just have started a wave of change.

If anyone were to be questioned with regards to their choice of platform, it should be the university's vice-chancellor Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim’s and his decision to spew racist remarks at the Malay Dignity Congress.

Some other questions troubling me are as follows: why on earth was lodging a police report an appropriate response? Is there some criminal offence committed when a minor university disruption occurs that I am not aware of?

The answer is simple, it is clear intimidation. Malaysians are so used to these police reports that they have almost stopped holding any weight.

Make a lewd Facebook comment = police report! Dress your schoolchildren up as orangutans = police report! It has become the go-to move for adults who are in the midst of a tantrum and don’t know what other rational moves to take to derail freedom of expression.

Wong, you did not tarnish the good name of the university. That was already accomplished by the vice chancellor.

Let us not forget that the vice chancellor is being payrolled by taxes collected from ALL Malaysians regardless of their race.

If a university student wishes to hold a symbolic and peaceful protest, all the power to him.

I just hope we see more students like Wong in the months to come.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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