Education Ministry to Resolve UM-Graduate Conflict

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UM cannot simply revoke student protester’s degree.

The Education Ministry has stepped in to mediate a conflict between Universiti Malaya (UM) and graduate Wong Yan Ke who was denied his civil engineering degree after his protest stunt during the convocation ceremony earlier this week.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching told reporters both parties must engage to reach an amicable resolution.

“We are in the process of doing that,” she was quoted saying.

Teo was also reported saying that she personally felt it was wrong of the university to refuse Wong the scroll for his bachelor’s degree when he went to collect it on October 16.

Farhan Najib/MMO

“Personally, I disagree with this,” she was quoted as saying.

Wong is in the spotlight for his carrying a placard on stage on October 14 to demand the resignation of UM vice-chancellor Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim as a show of protest against the latter’s alleged racial remarks during the October 6 Malay Dignity Congress.

Malaysia’s oldest university has since filed a police report against Wong, who is now being investigated for intentional insult to provoke a breach of the peace under Section 504 of the Penal Code.

The controversy has divided the country into two main camps, with one supporting UM and calling for action against the graduate and other saying attention should be given to Wong’s message against racism.

Student groups and UM’s academic staff union have called on the university to withdraw its police report against Wong.

On Tuesday, UM prevented a student from participating in the convocation ceremony after it found the graduate was trying to incite others to join the call for the vice-chancellor to resign.

Meanwhile, Hakam President Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar said UM cannot revoke the Civil Engineering degree it recently awarded to Wong.

“With utmost respect, the statement by the president of the National Professors Council (MPN), Professor Datuk Dr Raduan Che Rose, that UM has the right to revoke or withhold the degree of its graduate who staged a protest during the university’s convocation ceremony on Monday is misconceived in law” said Gurdial.

The former UM Law Professor pointed out that the University Senate cannot revoke a degree of its own accord, as UM is governed by the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971.