Malaysia’s most prestigious university files police report against student’s anti-racism protest

College: If you’re not fighting The Man then somehow you’ve already managed to sell your soul before cashing your first sweet paycheck, amirite — or does that only apply to art students?

Following the controversial appearance of Universiti Malaya’s vice-chancellor Abdul Rahim Hashim at an allegedly racially charged rally entitled the Malay Dignity Congress, one student took the opportunity at his graduation to demand his resignation.

Engineering student Wong Yan Ke held up a placard as he received his degree Monday afternoon that read Tolak Rasis (reject racism) and Undur VC (step-down VC), shouting Ini Tanah Malaysia (a sentiment roughly along the lines of: “This land belongs to Malaysians” — as in, ALL Malaysians).

If you’re wondering just how brave this kid is to express a sentiment calling for a leader at the nation’s oldest and most prestigious public university to remove himself from race-based political discourse, many folk who have called for similar things  have found themselves on the wrong side of the Sedition Act.

A video of Wong was shared on social media, with public opinion divided between praise, awe, and respect on one side, and criticisms that the student’s use of the ceremony to protest was untoward, and even petitions for his degree to be rescinded on the other.

UM has expressed their discontent with the protest, filing a police report against their recent graduate, and issuing a public statement on the matter:

“As a world-renowned university, UM has always adhered to the right to free speech but it must be expressed at a proper venue and in a proper way. His actions were rude and unacceptable.”

They added that their graduates are expected to carry themselves as “learned, respectful and polite individuals.”

Wong has since posted a lengthy statement in BM and Chinese to his Facebook account, confirming that his placard was in protest of the VC’s speech, and that it was his right to protest, with many high-profile figures giving him their support:

STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTSI am proud of this young man for speaking out. If all of us do what we can in our own way to…

Posted by Siti Kasim on Monday, October 14, 2019

And if you think he looks familiar, he’s the same kid that protested former Prime Minister Najib earlier this year by holding up the famed clown caricature of the disgraced MP by Fahmi Reza.

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times, but hey, one more time can’t hurt — f*ck racism, race-baiting, and however else anyone wants to package divisiveness in our fair land. We deserve better.

This article, Malaysia’s most prestigious university files police report against student’s anti-racism protest, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!