Maszlee Malik on power trip, say student activists

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 – Has power gotten to Maszlee Malik’s head? That seems to be the case according to student activists, The Malaysian Insight reported.

They cite his sudden rise to power after joining Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) in March to winning the Simpang Renggam parliamentary seat at the 14th General Election (GE14) on May 9, and finally being named Education Minister in the new Pakatan Harapan government in June, as being the cause of his refusal to relinquish his leadership of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

The controversy over his appointment as the IIUM president two months ago has still not subsided, with the student activists maintaining it goes against the PH government’s stand against non-political appointees in universities.

They add that it breaks the promise made in the PH manifesto against interference of any kind in the running of universities.

Maszlee had defended his appointment last September saying he wishes to lead IIUM towards becoming the “Oxford of the Islamic world”.

Student activist blames Maszlee’s close ties with IIUM

Asheeq Ali Sethi, 23, was one of two student activists arrested outside the Education Ministry office in Putrajaya following a peaceful sit-in protest over Maszlee’s appointment as IIUM president.

He blamed Maszlee’s refusal to step down from the post, despite pressure from his PH lawmakers, because of his close ties with IIUM.

“It makes me question, why is he adamant about holding on to the position?” Asheeq was quoted as saying by the news portal.

Daniel Mizan Qayyum, who is from Universiti Malaya, told TMI that some students and academics who are following the case closely were not surprised that Maszlee refuses to step down.

“His refusal to resign is not surprising. It is Maszlee that is surprised by the culture shock of political power,”  said Daniel.

“His efforts to hide behind the claim that it was ‘Tun M’s appointment’ and ‘sultan of Pahang’s approval’ can no longer save him from the PH leadership,” Daniel was quoted as saying by the news portal.

Stinks of favoritism

NMT spoke to a representative from another university who complained, “It is very disappointing to hear of his appointment, it stinks of favoritism.

“We requested the minister’s attention on something very significant for our university but the minister didn’t even bother. How can he have so much time for IIUM but not other universities?” said the representative who declined to be named.

Maszlee’s image takes a nosedive

So many Malaysians had much hope when Maszlee was appointed Education Minister.

However, his insistence on holding the IIUM presidency while not having made major policy decisions under his ministry, nor having any plans to transform the education system after years of political interference has seen his image take a nosedive.

Meanwhile, a source from PH told TMI that Maszlee had already been advised to relinquish his position as IIUM president but that he remains “stubborn” by not doing so.

“He does not want to resign from the position, because he believes he can help IIUM.

“We are still monitoring the situation and have not officially directed him to resign. We want him to make the decision on his own,” the source was quoted as saying.

– NMT