VC’s Malay congress speech defied Malaysian unity, says UM Law Society

R. Loheswar
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrives for the Malay Dignity Congress in Shah Alam October 6, 2019. Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim is behind him, in blue baju Melayu and songkok. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — The University of Malaya’s (UM) Law Society has chided its vice-chancellor (VC) for his speech during the Malay Dignity Congress earlier this month, amid a controversial protest by a graduate against the latter.

The group said Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim’s call for Malay political dominance during his speech goes against the provisions in the Federal Constitution, and has sparked concern in the multicultural society here.

“The vice-chancellor in his speech was adamant in ingraining the idea of upholding Malay dignity which does not just go against the aspirations of equality laid down in the Federal Constitution but also regrettably implies that other citizens who are non-Malay should be inferior in the political landscape.

“This statement sadly insinuates a supremacist ideology of Malay dominance,” the society said in a statement here.

“The UM Law Society condemns any form of remarks that taints the multicultural landscape of our country and we empathise with our fellow Malaysians that have suffered from this prejudicial ideology,” it added.

Among the things that were said during the Congress was the abolishment of vernacular schools, demand for scholarship percentage for B40 and bumiputras and a request for all top government posts to be from Malays.

The Law Society said these demands are unconstitutional under Article 8(1) and 8(2) of the Constitution which uphold the values of racial equality, as well as Article 136 which states all persons regardless of race be treated impartially.

In addition to that, the group also pointed to the speech by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who they said had uttered a few racially discriminatory remarks towards the non-Malays and expressed their disagreement with his sentiments.

“Firstly, he referred to non-Malays as ‘the others’,” it said, referring to Dr Mahathir.

“The first is that non-Malay Malaysians are not of equal standing. Secondly is that the consideration of non-Malay interests is not of equal priority to the government.

“We are of the opinion that prominent figures such as the prime minister and vice-chancellor, who are representatives of a multicultural society, should always carry the idea of racial equality and stand up against any form of prejudice or discrimination,” it said.

While adding that the congress was not unlawful, the law society said the contents of it are detrimental to the values of Malaysia which is to function as a multicultural country.

It also urged all Malaysians not to be distressed by such racial supremacist ideologies and that Malaysia is for all races and religions.

The police are currently investigating engineering graduate Wong Yan Ke for his solo protest during his convocation ceremony, after UM lodged a police report against him.

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