KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 ― Universiti of Malaya (UM) student protester Wong Yan Ke has finally received his degree certificate today but had also demanded that the university retract the police report lodged against him as a sign of sincerity.
The engineering student who spoke to a press conference after obtaining his certificate was responding to the university’s board of directors’ statement over his certificate being allegedly with held by the management.
“If the university’s (board of directors) wants to uphold freedom of expression (like what they said in their press statement yesterday), why don’t they show their sincerity by taking actions instead of just speaking?
“They should show their sincerity by retracting the police report lodged against me. This will reflect on upholding the freedom of speech,” Wong said.
Touching upon his willingness to see the embattled university’s vice-chancellor (VC) Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim, Wong said he has no problems about it but said Abdul Rahim had hidden himself behind his staff and the corporate communications department.
He added that the university should also retract the police report before the sitdown as it would place both parties at a level playing field.
When asked if Abdul Rahim had conducted himself in a cowardly manner for refusing to explain his statement at the Malay Dignity Congress and for bullying the student after the protest, Wong’s lawyer Asheeq Ali said that the vice chancellor had behaved “unprofessionally”.
“Instead of branding him as a coward, let’s call him unprofessional. He is being unprofessional in terms of being a VC, for refusing to explain himself and for hiding behind people’s back,” said Asheeq.
At the same time, the lawyer had slammed the university’s administrators and calling them outright liars for giving an allegedly false statement regarding Wong’s degree certification.
Asheeq had said that the university’s board of directors were out to tarnish his client’s name and reputation by denying Wong’s claims that he was refused his certificate on October 16, 2019.
“The statement by the university’s board of directors said that Universiti Malaya did not withhold my client’s graduation certificate. I want to state that that is a lie because the degree was withheld.
“He could not pick up his certificate until they called him to pick it up yesterday. Under the clause of with holding the degree, they already withheld his certificate till today. The whole statement was to make him look bad and tarnish his reputation.
“I want UM to correct their statement and explain to the people why they didn’t give him the certificate when he went to collect it on October 16, 2019 ― when he returned his robe. Everyone else got their certificate and did not have any problems with it,” said Asheeq.
On Monday, Wong carried a placard to the stage during UM’s convocation ceremony while receiving his bachelor’s degree, urging Abdul Rahim Hashim to resign.
This was followed by the barring of another student Edan Kon, 23 from participating in his convocation the next day after auxiliary police found a folded placard in his possession.
Both Wong and Kon were against alleged racist elements in Abdul Rahim’s speech during the Malay Dignity Congress in which the latter purportedly claimed last year’s change in government had eliminated Malay political dominance.
Abdul Rahim also reportedly claimed to have asserted that Malay privileges were being questioned and warned others not to challenge the social contract in his speech.
As a result, Wong was called in on Wednesday to have his statement recorded record by the police after UM lodged a report against him, while Kon was accused by the university of his intentions to disrupt proceedings.
Among the reasons cited which caused Kon being barred from his graduation ceremony included a Facebook posting in which he “incited” other students to join in the protest to seek Abdul Rahim’s resignation during graduation proceedings.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also on Wednesday stated that while students have the right to protest, a convocation ceremony was not the right place for such actions.