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After Dignity Congress brouhaha, UM vows greater care for future events

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University of Malaya (UM) has vowed to exercise greater care in future programmes it is involved in following the brouhaha surrounding its organising of the Malay Dignity Congress earlier this month.

In a statement, the university’s board of directors chairperson Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen Tengku Ibrahim maintained that the congress was an “academic discourse” on the challenges faced by Malays in the country, in line with the objectives of UM’s Malay Excellence Studies Centre (PKMM).

“Universiti Malaya also carries the spread of knowledge and intellectual discussions as its main agenda. On that principle, the Malay Dignity Congress on Oct 6 was an academic discourse to identify, discuss and propose resolutions as to the many challenges faced by the Malays today from the political, economic, educational, cultural and religious aspects.

“The effort is in line with the objective of the formation of PKMM.

“Even so, in line with the university’s mission and the principles it holds, the university management will be more cautious and exercise reasonable, tighter and more dynamic care so that the programmes it is associated with will consider all aspects of national importance,” Azzman said in a statement today.

The Malay Dignity Congress (pictured, above) was organised by PKMM in collaboration with Universiti Teknologi Mara, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Sultan Idris Education University.

The congress took place in Shah Alam on Oct 6 and was attended by more than 5,000 people, including Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and several Umno, PAS and Pakatan Harapan leaders, Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin and singer Siti Nurhaliza.

The congress was heavily criticised by various quarters due to the seemingly racial speeches delivered and resolutions passed during the event.

UM vice-chancellor Abdul Rahim Hashim came under fire from several quarters over the alleged racial undertones in his speech.

He had allegedly claimed that the change in government after GE14 had eliminated Malay political dominance and asserted that Malay privileges were being questioned. Rahim is also alleged to have warned others not to challenge the social contract.

He received several calls for his resignation, citing the purported racial elements in his speech and his alleged failure to look after the university’s financial and student welfare.

The critics included UM student activist Wong Yan Ke, who, after receiving his graduation scroll on Monday, unfurled a placard accusing the VC of racism, among others, and called for his resignation.

The university has since lodged a police report against Wong, who is currently being probed under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.

Wong, an engineering graduate, also claimed UM was withholding his academic transcript. This was denied by Azzman today.

“In reference to the scroll and academic transcript, I wish to stress that the university is not withholding it or has cancelled the graduate’s (Wong’s) degree.

“Central distribution of the scrolls and transcripts is carried out from Oct 12 to 20. The graduate has been informed that his academic transcript can be collected anytime from Oct 18.

“The graduate can access and print his scroll online through graduand.um.edu.my from Oct 21,” Azzman’s statement read.

The latter, while deeming UM to be one of the most liberal institutions of higher learning in the country which valued freedom of speech, however, maintained Wong's on-stage protest disrespected the ongoing convocation ceremony.

Wong had on Wednesday claimed his transcript was being withheld on flimsy grounds as varsity staff allegedly claimed there was a printing problem and as such, his transcript was “kotor” (tainted).

Wong went to UM today to collect his transcript.

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