Malaysian university criticised for police report against student

PETALING JAYA • Human rights organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has called for Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor Abdul Rahim Hashim to resign, after the university lodged a police report against a student who staged a solo protest at a convocation ceremony.

In a statement issued yesterday, Suaram said Datuk Abdul Rahim should step down if he is unwilling to provide a safe space for students to engage in discourse.

"Universiti Malaya and all universities are supposed to be a safe space where students and youth (can) learn, debate and develop their ideas.

"As part of this process, any critique against policies through protests or civil disobedience is to be expected and welcomed, so long (as) it does not promote violence against others," Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said.

The university lodged the police report on Monday against Mr Wong Yan Ke after he allegedly shouted "ini tanah Malaysia" (this land belongs to Malaysia) while carrying a placard with the words "tolak rasis" (reject racism) and "undur VC" (step down VC) on stage upon receiving his degree scroll.

Mr Wong said he was protesting against Mr Abdul Rahim's speech at the Malay Dignity Congress, which he claimed was racially charged.

The congress on Oct 6 was organised by four public universities, including Universiti Malaya, to discuss problems faced by the majority Malay community. At the congress, Mr Abdul Rahim had allegedly warned ethnic minorities not to question Malay privileges under the country's social contract.

Mr Sevan said the position adopted by Universiti Malaya shows its management has not progressed despite the Ministry of Education's policy change to allow university students to participate in political activities on campus.

In its statement, the university said it supports freedom of expression, but denounced Mr Wong's actions for not respecting the ceremony.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2019, with the headline 'Malaysian university criticised for police report against student'. Print Edition | Subscribe