UM academics stand by convo protest student

The Universiti Malaya Academic Staff Union (PKAUM) today stood by the student who created a stir through his solo protest at his convocation ceremony against the university’s involvement in the recent Malay Dignity Congress.

(FMT) – In a statement, it said it supported Wong Yan Ke’s right to express himself although it disagreed with the platform through which he had chosen to do so.

Although the protest had marred the occasion for other graduands and their families, PKAUM said, it was likely driven by a student community that was already unhappy over “the many misdemeanours and misactions of the vice-chancellor of UM”.

It said the vice-chancellor had failed to promote racial tolerance and unity at UM by engaging in the organisation of the Oct 6 congress in Shah Alam.

It also spoke of a failure to “disengage from the games of politicians” which it said was unbecoming of academics, and the failure to ensure safety in the light of a fire which it said had occurred at UM’s faculty of economics on Aug 27, as well as “multiple robberies and break-ins on campus”.

Wong, a civil engineering student, had carried a placard on-stage during his convocation ceremony on Monday demanding the resignation of UM vice-chancellor Abdul Rahim Hashim.

He told FMT that his protest against Rahim was carried out because the university’s name had been used for racial and political reasons as one of four universities who organised the Malay Dignity Congress.

He also said he had not acted impulsively and had received the advice and views of several people, including lecturers and friends. He said Rahim’s remarks at the congress had led other academics and students to question the academic validity of the demands Rahim had made.

UM later lodged a police report against Wong, accusing him of tarnishing the university’s image as well as disrupting convocation protocols.

PKAUM urged UM to take immediate action to prevent further tension from developing among student groups.

It also slammed the move to bar another student, Edan Kon, from receiving his convocation scroll at the graduation ceremony the next day, saying it was “thoroughly aggrieved” at such “unfair targeting”.

Kon, an accounting student, told FMT he believed the university administration was worried that he would carry out a similar protest as Wong.

Adding that he had no intention of doing so, he said the university failed to justify why he was barred.