Umno leaders rap education minister for taking on university presidency

Education Minister Maszlee Malik assumed the post president of the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) yesterday. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Education Minister Maszlee Malik assumed the post president of the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) yesterday. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR Sept 5 — Education Minister Maszlee Malik’s assumption of a local university’s presidency suggests no member of the academia is fit to serve the role, said Umno leaders critical of his move.

Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin questioned the former academic’s apparent eagerness to take on the role despite Pakatan Harapan’s pledge to ensure freedom for universities and colleges.

“Is there no one else to be appointed as IIUM president?” the former youth and sports minister asked on Twitter.

“The minister himself wants this post? Thought that in a new Malaysia there will not be position-crazy leaders?”

His tweet was retweeted 1,300 times.

Former Johor mentri besar Datuk Khaled Nordin said it was unseemly for Maszlee to be the president of the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) as it would invite suspicions of partiality.

“Why is this minister playing favourites with just one university? Does he have so much time to take care of this!” he wrote also on Twitter.

Yesterday the Academic Staff Association (ASA) of IIUM congratulated Maszlee on his appointment via a post on its official Facebook page, triggering controversy.

In addition to Maszlee, his political secretary Mohd Nizam Morad is also on the board of directors member in Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).

It is unclear when Nizam was appointed as he is an alumni of the university.

The minister’s appointment also drew criticism from his PH allies such as Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei of DAP who called it a “clear conflict of interest”.

She demanded Maszlee relinquish the position, saying there was no ambiguity in the pact’s pledge to ensure the independence of the country’s learning institutions.