Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM) is appalled that the University of Malaya administration gas chosen to lodge a police report against its graduate Wong Yan Ke’s action in flashing a placard demanding the resignation of the vice-chancellor during the university’s convocation recently.
It should be remembered that a university is more than just about preparing young people for their future through education. It also serves as an institution that nurtures critical thinking and freedom of expression among the young under its care.
Wong Yan Ke’s action during the convocation was one of expressing his opinion on the vice-chancellor’s speech at the recent Malay Dignity Congress. Such action is in conformity with the norm that the university is a bastion of critical thought and freedom of expression.
Indeed, student protests during convocations happen in many well-known universities around the world. Such universities do not respond by meting out punitive actions.
As the premier university in Malaysia, the University of Malaya should not have taken the drastic action of lodging a police report, which reflects badly on the university as it does not adhere to the normal practice of its international peers.
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UM should have responded by coming up with a statement which addressed the protest raised by Wong Yan Ke.
We live at a time where bad habits of the old regime have been rejected by the people. To quote Education Minister Maslee Malik:
What does it mean to empower universities? It means that we want universities to be a place of learning, a place where knowledge is explored, uplifted and imparted. Universities are – and should be – places that uplift society through values, ideas or solutions for real world problems.
This is why we are committed to bringing back university autonomy as well as to ensure the integrity of academia. I personally believe in the power of individuals – in their creative genius and ability to thrive and be responsible.
GBM calls upon UM to retract its police report and live up to the vision which the mi
Zaid Kamaruddin is chairman of Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia.
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