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UM student protests against VC at graduation ceremony; M’sians call for revoke of degree

UM student protests against VC at graduation ceremony; M’sians call for revoke of degree

Tasneem Nazari

The Malaysian social media sphere is abuzz with videos of a University Malaya (UM) student protesting on stage at his own graduation ceremony.

Student activist Wong Yan Ke carried a protest placard on stage while receiving his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at UM yesterday (Oct 14).

Wong was protesting to demand the resignation of his university’s vice-chancellor, Abdul Rahim Hashim, who was seated at the front row of the hall where the convocation ceremonies were held.

Wong explained the protest was against using UM’s name for racial and political reasons.

Picture credit: Twitter

FYI, UM was one of the four universities listed as organisers of the recent Malay Dignity Congress in Shah Alam. During the congress, Rahim reportedly made a racially-charged speech.

“The message behind this act is that when students or lecturers find a leader to be unqualified, then we have the valid right to criticise. Also, to ask for that individual to carry their responsibility in giving an explanation to us,”

Wong Ke Yan via FMT

Social media users feel that Wong had shown disrespect towards the ceremony, the other graduates and the vice-chancellor.

“Education and manners. I appreciate a well-mannered person more than an educated one.”

Some have even launched a petition calling for the university to revoke Wong’s degree. At the time of writing, the petition had over 43,000 signatures.

“I hope the university revokes his degree”

“This petition was launched to demand action from UM to revoke Wong Yan’s Bachelor’s Degree for protesting during the convocation ceremony”

Picture credit: Change.org

BTW, Wong is the same UM student who carried a clown-face cutout mocking former premier Najib Razak outside a restaurant in March this year.

Picture credit: Malaysia Dateline
Picture credit: Malaysiakini

Student protests aren’t new in Malaysia.

In fact, in the early 1930s, teacher trainees from the Sultan Idris Training College opposed British colonialism while students from UM (then located in Singapore) had close relations with the anti-colonial movement. 

Thus, Malaysian university students were actually actively involved in the country’s struggle for independence.

In the 1970s, university students demonstrated with farmers from Baling, Kedah, to protest against the declining rubber price, the rise in inflation and poverty. It was one of the most iconic street protests in Malaysia which saw almost 25,000 people taking the streets.

Picture credit: Malaysian Digest

The protest was led by none other than Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was then a student activist.

Student protests are pivotal in shaping the nation and a sign that the youth are not afraid of voicing out injustices and their dissatisfactions.

In this manner, Malaysian students have always upheld their social responsibility and power to make a change.


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