PUTRAJAYA – Jan. 2, 2020: Controversial Education Minister Maszlee Malik has confirmed his resignation effective today, ending intense speculation since early in the day.
His statement at a press conference said he was “surrendering the post to the prime minister”. The former lecturer at the International Islamic University of Malaysia was appointed after the Pakatan Harapan coalition won the 14th general elections in May 2018. He is a member of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s Pribumi Bersatu party.
It didn’t take long for the MP for Renggam in Johor to stir controversy, with his self-appointment as president of the university. He later resigned but soon after courted another controversy when he announced that students would wear black shoes to school from the white used since as long as anyone could remember.
Maszlee said his decision today was based on Mahathir’s advice and at a press conference insisted that his critics had overlooked his achievements.
The latest controversy revolves around the decision to introduce the Jawi script as part of the Bahasa Melayu syllabus in vernacular schools. Also considered controversial was an examination question by a public university in Perlis relating to the equally controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik – an Indian national who has permanent residency status in Malaysia.
Maszlee’s tenure was also marred by the distribution of a comic book on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a book the home ministry later banned on grounds that it promoted communism and socialism.
Maszlee’s resignation would mean a minor reshuffle of Mahathir’s 19-month old Cabinet, something that was speculated from a few months ago but which never went beyond it being a speculation by the press. Now it will eventually happen.