CALLS for proper guidelines and procedures for undergraduates are growing strong following the case of the solo protest by a Universiti Malaya graduate at his convocation on Monday.
The Malaysian Youth Council (MYC) said there was a need for guidelines outlining do’s and don’ts for undergraduates when voicing opinions at campus events or when conducting a protest on any platform.
MYC information chief Wan Mohd Husni Abdullah said the incident, which involved civil engineering graduate Wong Yan Ke, 23, should have been handled through open discussions between the university administration and the graduate.
“MYC is of the opinion that the student and university should sit down together to find out the student’s grouses because he was said to have represented the voice of his fellow undergraduates.
“We urge universities to come up with guidelines and stricter disciplinary action against students to prevent such an incident from recurring and to set an example,” he said yesterday.
Wan Mohd Husni criticised Wong’s protest on stage after he received his scroll.
He said the council felt that the graduate had violated the traditions of the ceremony as well as the protocols that should be respected by all parties.
“The student’s action shows a lack of morals and values as an educated person and undermines the reputation of the university. The term ‘freedom of speech’ should not be arbitrarily used (by the student) and should be exercised through proper channels.
“All citizens must uphold and adhere to the principles of the Rukun Negara, which includes Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan (Courtesy and Morality), to ensure national harmony.
“MYC urges UM to view this matter seriously and take action, including withholding the student’s bachelor’s degree until an apology is made to UM Vice-Chancellor (VC) Datuk (Dr) Abdul Rahim Hashim,” he told Bernama.
In the incident, after receiving his scroll on stage, Wong held up a manila paper placard denouncing racism and urged the UM VC to resign, to the shock of guests and top UM administrators present at the ceremony.
On another matter, Wan Mohd Husni said MYC was disappointed and strongly opposed the organiser of the Tun Razak Cup Debate in English held at Sekolah Datuk Abdul Razak in Seremban recently for including sensitive religious issues in the debate topics.
“MYC urges the authorities, whether it is the police or Education Ministry, to investigate and take action against the organiser even though an apology has been made.
“The failure of the organiser to ensure that the jury complied with standard operating procedures was a serious error as it affects religious sensitivities. The topics could affect the beliefs of debaters in both the supporting and opposing team.”
On the UM student’s protest, Pasir Mas member of parliament Ahmad Fadhli Shaari said it was the responsibility of political parties to guide youths to avoid incidents like the one involving the UM civil engineering graduate.
He said this in his 2020 Budget debate speech at Parliament.
He said while Malaysians had the right to express their views, it should be done through appropriate platforms.
“We are not criticising freedom of speech, but it has to be done at appropriate places. When undergraduates rebel on the stage, it affects parents (attending) the (convocation) ceremony.”
He said there were other avenues where he could protest and raise concerns, but it should not be done at a convocation.
“The Education Ministry has a tough role to play. Nowadays, rude students go on stage and shout during a convocation. This has never happened in history.
“I am concerned that supporting such behaviour would become a norm in society.”