PETALING JAYA: Education Minister Maszlee Malik’s appointment as the International Islamic University (IIUM) president is only temporary, PPBM chief strategist Rais Hussin said today.
Rais was responding to critics, including Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei, who said Maszlee should have refused the position.
Several others said Maszlee’s acceptance of the appointment was against the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto.
When asked, Rais said Maszlee’s decision was part of the “transitional period” mentioned in the manifesto.
“If everyone would just read the manifesto properly, they would understand that there are two parts to the promises made by the coalition.
“The first part is the 10 promises to be fulfilled in 100 days, and the second is 60 promises to be delivered in five years.
“Promises under the five-year timeline include a transitional period needed for the coalition to sort things out before they can deliver a promise.
“With Maszlee’s appointment as the IIUM president only slated for three years, that is the transitional period I am talking about,” he said after the signing of a memorandum of agreement at the One World Hotel earlier.
Rais, who is also EMIR Research president, signed the agreement with the Australian Council for Educational Research, to collaborate on research programmes and initiatives which will apply international best practices in educational development in Malaysia and the Asean region.
“When Attorney-General Tommy Thomas was appointed, the former AG was gone, and it was before the Parliament sitting started, there wasn’t even a speaker but we needed an AG. But he was only appointed for two years. That is transitional, and similarly for Maszlee,” Rais said.
Rais also pointed out that Maszlee had no background as a politician and should not be “suddenly” regarded as one.
“From the very beginning, when Maszlee joined PPBM, he joined not as a politician but as an academic. He joined only two months before the general election in May.
“This is what he does best and he is very passionate about IIUM. He knows IIUM inside out, so give him a chance.
“There are unique situations (in IIUM) and he needs to address it.
“We have a five-year term (as government), how long is his appointment? Three years, maybe not even three years? But that is the usual tenure of presidency positions,” Rais said.
Since the announcement of Maszlee’s appointment, National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan also defended it saying that the decision was made by the Sultan of Pahang.
IIUM has also said that its constitutional head Sultan Ahmad Shah had consented to the appointment.
Lim, a first-term DAP assemblyman, was reported as saying that Maszlee’s appointment was a conflict of interest and against the minister’s pledge not to interfere in the management of institutions of higher learning.
She said Maszlee’s appointment was tantamount to failing the students who had counted on PH to restore academic freedom.
Lim also questioned the appointment of Maszlee’s political secretary Mohd Nizam Morad as one of the directors of Universiti Utara Malaysia.
While details of Nizam’s appointment have not been made public, she said the two appointments cast doubt on the education ministry’s commitment to academic freedom.