Maszlee defends choice of former BN minister to be UKM chief

Education Minister Maszlee Malik delivers his speech at the International Islamic University Malaysia’s 34th convocation ceremony in Gombak November 10, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
Education Minister Maszlee Malik delivers his speech at the International Islamic University Malaysia’s 34th convocation ceremony in Gombak November 10, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

GOMBAK, Nov 10 — Education Minister Maszlee Malik rejected criticism over his selection of Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar as chairman of Univerisiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), insisting this was solely due to the former minister’s merits.

The prime minister’s media advisor Datuk A. Kadir Jasin called the choice “bewildering” yesterday, saying it suggested that Maszlee disagreed Wahid’s removal as the head of PNB during the recent purge of political appointees.

Maszlee said he respected his fellow PPBM member’s opinion, but insisted that Wahid was a sound choice.

“Any decision we made is based on merit and it received approval from above,” he said without elaborating.

Wahid was named as the chairman of UKM’s board for the term from November 1 to October 31, 2021, replacing Tan Sri Ibrahim Saad.

The former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in the Najib administration stepped down as PNB chairman after the general election.

When asked about rumours that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was not on good terms with Wahid, the minister said he does not make decisions based on rumours.

“Just because he was removed, you assume he has a bad relationship (with Dr Mahathir),” he said.

As for Wahid’s presence in the Cabinet of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Maszlee asked if the ex-minister did anything wrong at the time.

Wahid’s appointment is another of Maszlee’s controversial decisions, including his decision to accept the post of president at the International Islamic University Malaysia despite PH’s pledges to give universities greater autonomy.

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