About 7,000 Universiti Malaya (UM) students - most of whom claim to come from low income families (B40) - are demanding a refund for a RM120 dinner fee.
According to a report in Utusan Online, UM Angkatan Mahasiswa chairperson Muhammad Ahnaf Mohd Yunus said the fee was charged along with tuition fees and college accommodation charges about a month ago.
He claimed students were then forced to attend the dinner, which is normally held at five-star hotels around Kuala Lumpur.
"When students applied for the money to be returned, the administration threatened to withdraw their place in residential college in the next semester,” said Muhammad Ahnaf.
"There are students who don’t have enough money to eat from day to day, so it is inhumane of the college administration to charge for a RM120 dinner," he said.
Muhammad Ahnaf, along with 10 student representatives from residential colleges at UM, gathered in front of the university's chancellery building to hand over a protest memorandum to UM Vice-Chancellor Abdul Rahim Hashim.
Wong Yan Ke, the chairperson of the University Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY) who was also present, called on the university to adopt an ‘opt in’ system.
“Right now, the dinner fees are charged automatically before the student has made a choice. Then they are required to make a request for a refund. Even this is subject to the authorities’ discretion since they can reject your reasons.
“We request that you repeal this obligation and make it an opt in system. Anyone who wishes to attend the dinner is required to register.” This he said, would reverse the current situation in which so many are automatically charged for something they don’t want.
Wong also claimed that there was a very short period in which students could make their refund request.
He added that after the protest, the university has been quick to meet with student leaders and work towards an amicable situation.
Malaysiakini is contacting UM for a response to this matter.