KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching has expressed disagreement with calls by some for Universiti Malaya (UM) to revoke student activist Wong Yan Ke’s Civil Engineering degree.
“I personally disagree (with the calls),” she said, in response to demands that the 23-year-old’s degree be withdrawn after he staged a one-man protest at UM’s 59th Convocation ceremony, on Monday.
Wong says that unlike other students in his graduating class, he has yet to receive his transcript.
Teo joins Youth and Sports minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, who also expressed opposition to having Wong’s degree revoked, despite feeling that he should not have chosen the convocation ceremony to air his grouses.
Teo added that as far as the Education Ministry (MoE) is concerned, engagement between both parties is key to resolving the issue.
“In order to solve the issue amicably, we need both sides to engage, not enrage. We are in the process of doing that,” she said.
On Monday, Wong courted the university’s anger when he held up a banner accusing UM vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Abdul Rahim Rashid of racism, and called for his resignation when receiving his scroll on stage at Dewan Tunku Canselor.
The nation’s oldest university responded by lodging a police report on Tuesday, which led to an investigation under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentionally insulting and provoking a person, knowing it can disrupt public peace.
This was followed by UM’s subsequent barring of another graduate, Edan Kon Hua En, from participating in his convocation on Tuesday, after auxiliary police found a folded placard in his possession.
Both graduates allege that there were racist elements in Rahim’s speech during the recent Malay Dignity Congress.
Earlier, Teo witnessed the launch of the “Back-to-School” 2019 programme, a collaborative effort between the MoE, McDonald’s Malaysia and Ronald McDonald’s House Charities (RMHC).
Started in 2017, the programme motivates underprivileged and urban poor primary school children in Malaysia as they start the new school year.
A total of 30,000 pupils nationwide will receive “Back-to-School” packs consisting of a school uniform set, a pair of shoes, and a school bag worth RM100.