Wong Yan Ke, a recent graduate of Universiti Malaya, was yesterday charged in Kuala Lumpur’s Magistrate’s Court, for acts of protest during the university’s convocation ceremony in October. During the ceremony, he allegedly shouted slogans and raised placards accusing the Vice Chancellor of the university of making ‘racist’ remarks during the Malay Dignity Congress and called for the official’s resignation. The university subsequently filed a complaint with the police. Wong was charged under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of peace, which carries a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment.
ARTICLE 19 said:
“This is a clear attempt by the university to silence dissenting voices and to suppress the free speech of a former student. University officials should create an environment in which students can freely share their opinions without fear of censure. Their overreaction to an act of protest exposes their intolerance for criticism and willingness to abuse their position of authority.
“The case against Wong Yan Ke is especially worrying in the context of the current political turmoil in Malaysia. Public officials have regularly dangled criminal charges in front of activists and ordinary citizens as a means of stifling protest and dissent. The government must make good on its promises and reform legal provisions, including those in the Penal Code, that unjustifiably restrict freedom of expression.”