PETALING JAYA: Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has called for the Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Malaya (UM) Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim (pic) to resign if he is unable to take criticism from students or is unwilling to provide a safe space for students to engage in discourse.
Saying that they were perturbed by the police report lodged by UM following the protest by Wong Yan Ke during a convocation ceremony, Suaram believed that others should lead and develop UM as an academic institution that promotes critical discourse among its students.
“University Malaya and all universities are supposed to be a safe space where students and youth are given a safe space to 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 it does not promote violence against others, ” Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said in a statement on Wednesday (Oct 16).
On Monday (Oct 14), UM lodged a police report against Wong after he staged a solo protest calling for the resignation of the varsity’s vice-chancellor, Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim.
Wong had allegedly shouted “Ini Tanah Malaysia” while carrying a placard with the words “Tolak Rasis” (reject racism) and “Undur VC” (step down VC) on stage during his graduation after he received his degree scroll.
He said it was done to protest the vice-chancellor's recent speech at the Malay Dignity Congress in Shah Alam and claimed that the speech was racially charged and as a graduate, he had a right to criticise and call for the individual to be courteous.
The Malay Dignity Congress was organised by four public universities - Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) - to discuss and find solutions to problems faced by the Malays.
Sevan said the position adopted by University Malaya only shows that the management of the university has not progressed at all, despite the change of policies by the Ministry of Education.
He said that Suaram has previously stood as a witness for Anis Syafiqah and others when they were penalised by University Malaya for organising the Tangkap MO1 rally in Kuala Lumpur.
“It would seem that the management still aims to paint students’ act of civil disobedience as a deplorable act, irrespective of the reasons or motivation behind them, ” he said, while calling for UM to retract the police report.
Lawyer Siti Kasim asked UM if they could come up with a press statement on condemning a Malaysian who is standing up for his right, why they were silent on the action of their VC's extremely racist statement.
“The action of your student is a consequence of your VC's racist statement. This is an educational body. You should be ashamed to have a VC who is obviously racist. Is this what you teach in UM? It is this student's right to respond to his VC in this manner, so as to get the attention of many.
“The only good thing I see is that you have a student who is still able to use his brain, instead of kowtowing to the racism apparently prevalent in your university. Shame on you, UM, ” she said in a Facebook post.
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