VC gets backlash for saying Najib clown caricature provocative

Image from social media

By John Isaac

Surely, most of us have seen the clown caricature of our former premier, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak right?

Well, how many of us actually get provoked looking at it?

According to Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor, Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim, the caricature was provocative, drawing criticism from a student group within the university.

Suara Siswa said they regretted an unclear statement by Abdul Rahim who said that unwelcome incidents could be avoided if all sides avoided provocative words and actions.

“We would like to remind the vice-chancellor that the use of images that have elements of satire, whether in films, illustrations, or comics, are the norm and has been accepted as a reasonable form of criticism around the world,” they said in a statement.

They added that the caricature had long been used in demonstrations, and the seven students who had used it last week had gathered peacefully without uttering anything unpleasant.

“This is not only for the seven students but to defend the freedom of expression and (the freedom) to assemble as stated in the Federal Constitution,” they said, adding that they hoped the police would speed up a probe into the incident.

On March 21, students demonstrating against Najib were allegedly manhandled by the former prime minister’s supporters.     

The students were demonstrating across the street of a restaurant near the university where Najib was speaking.

A video of the scuffle showed Najib’s supporters, including Umno supreme council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam, accosting the students who were behind a railing.

Student Wong Yan Ke, from the University of Malaya Association of New Youth, was allegedly manhandled during the incident.

Two interns from news portal Malaysiakini were also said to have been harassed by the same group of Najib supporters.

According to The Star, police reports have been lodged over the incident.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik reminded universities to always support students and their freedom of expression as long as it was not something that contravened the laws of the country and university regulations.