Engineering student, Wong Yan Ke, wants the Vice-chancellor (VC) of Universiti Malaya (UM) to resign, for helping to organise and support a racist event, the Malay Dignity Congress (Kongres Maruah Melayu), which was held on 6 October, in Shah Alam.
The VC is Abdul Rahim Hashim and in his opening speech at the Congress, he warned other Malaysians not to challenge the social contract. He also claimed that the change in government, after GE-14, had eliminated Malay political dominance and said that Malay privileges were being questioned.
Wong disagreed with Abdul Rahim’s promotion of racism and hatred. He also said that the VC should not infringe on academic freedom, and should not be a “political puppet”, but instead, should focus on solving UM’s financial problems.
I have two queries for the VC.
First. How much of the taxpayer’s money, was used to hold the event?
Second. If Abdul Rahim will not resign with dignity, then will he be sacked, as he has brought the good name of UM into disrepute?
We were told that four public universities – Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), organised the Congress.
Public universities should not promote racism, and champion exclusivity. During the opening speech at the Congress, the chief organiser, Zainal Kling, questioned the citizenship of non-Malays.
The event did not invite anyone from the other races to speak, or present their side of the discussion. There was no fairness or balance. The participants and Malay speakers simply focused on race baiting and blamed the non-Malays, for the lack of morals, economic success and knowledge of the Malays.
Wong’s mistake may have been to select an inappropriate time and place to voice his grievances, but when would he have been heard?
Should he have written to the VC to complain? How many of us have written reports and published videos about racism in high places. There has been a poor response from those in power.
If Wong had written his complaint before he graduated, he might have been punished like Adam Adli, who was not allowed to complete his final year at university. Adam had lowered a flag, which bore a likeness of disgraced Najib Abdul Razak, from a flagpole outside the Putra World Trade Centre, in 2011.
If Wong had complained after his graduation, do you honestly think the VC and UM will take any notice?
Upon receiving his degree certificate, Wong shouted, “Tolak rasis. Undur VC. Ini Tanah Malaysia (Reject racism. VC step down. This is Tanah Malaysia)”. He then held up a placard which listed several reasons why Abdul Rahim should resign.
In other words, Wong did not confine his complaints to the conduct of the VC, but also exposed other problems on campus. The students must think that the VC is incompetent because he did not address the issues they highlighted.
When Wong staged his protest, the VC was seated in the front row of the hall and must have fumed with embarrassment.
Some parents and students may have been shocked, but, to be fair to Wong, the university fraternity should have been embarrassed by their VC’s behaviour at the Malay Dignity Congress. He dragged UM into the racial and political underworld of backstabbing, skull-duggery and abuse of power.
The UM student union vice-president, Yap Wen Qing, has also alleged that every residential college in UM was forced to send Malay students to attend the congress. Why was this allowed to happen?
This is precisely the tactics used by the previous Umno-Baru government. UM, like other universities and colleges, should be a place in which one can obtain an education and increase one’s knowledge.
The congress did nothing to promote Malaysian unity. It had the opposite effect, because the event exposed Malay insecurity in high places, such as in political leaders, academicians, NGOs, businessmen and religious preachers. Shame on the Pakatan Harapan leaders and the prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad for attending this event!
In true cowardly fashion, the university’s response was to lodge a police report against Wong. Why use bully-boy tactics to solve an internal matter?
As for the VC, he should resign, with dignity, to make way for a better person. If he refuses to apologise for his support of racism, and is reluctant to resign, then he should be sacked.
Abdul Rahim is an academic and he should be learned enough to refute the allegations instead of using strong-arm tactics, to punish Wong.
If, in the first instance, UM’s board and its Chancellor had publicly censured Abdul Rahim for supporting racism, Wong need not have taken this drastic action, to highlight the cancer that is spreading throughout the nation.