PETALING JAYA: Two DAP politicians have differing reactions to the storm of criticism about Maszlee Malik being named as incoming Education Minister in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Policy analyst Ong Kian Ming, newly-elected MP for Bangi, defended Maszlee using his “impressive CV” against criticisms of him being an Islamist and a supporter of controversial preacher Zakir Naik.
However, in Penang, lawyer Ramkarpal Singh, incoming MP for Bukit Gelugor, called for calm in the midst of the growing controversy, which has resulted in an online petition gaining the support of tens of thousands of Malaysians who want Dr Mahathir to hold the post.
Ong urged that critics should not make “a superficial reading of who he is and what he represents” while Ramkarpal said it was premature to judge Maszlee and that Barisan Nasional no longer ran a government where “anyone could do anything”.
Ramkarpal said a right choice for an education minister was someone open-minded and not fixed in his ways of thinking, in order to carry out Pakatan Harapan’s reform agenda.
Ong said the views of Maszlee’s critics, that he was an Islamist, “are not necessarily correct”. Ong pointed out that Maszlee was a senior fellow at IDEAS, a local think tank, had been involved in numerous charity works and was an assistant professor at the International Islamic University Malaysia.
On accusations that Maszlee is a Zakir Naik supporter, Ong said Maszlee was a member of the Muslim Professionals Forum which did not subscribe to his “dialectical and combative approach”.
Maszlee, who is the incoming MP for Simpang Renggam, is a senior member of PPBM.
He was named to the Cabinet after Mahathir changed his mind about being education minister himself, in the wake of criticism for breaking a Pakatan Harapan promise that the prime minister would not hold any other portfolio.
The incoming 14-member Cabinet will take their oaths of office on Monday.