Why is Maszlee still IIUM president, asks student activist

Education Minister Maszlee Malik has come under fire from student groups for accepting the IIUM presidency. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A student activist has called out Education Minister Maszlee Malik for staying on as president of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) some two months after he promised to step down.

Asheeq Ali, who was arrested last September during a protest against Maszlee over the matter, said the minister had announced on Nov 9 he would relinquish his post pending the choice of a suitable candidate.

“A promise is a promise,” the law student told FMT today.

He questioned the delay in finding a replacement for Maszlee.

“Or is it that he does not want to step down?” asked Asheeq.

“If the university hasn’t found a replacement, the public has the right to know why it is taking so long.

“What is the ‘crisis’ faced by IIUM that there is not a single person who can replace Maszlee as its president?”

When contacted, an aide to the education minister said Maszlee’s replacement was awaiting consent from IIUM’s constitutional head, Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang.

“An announcement will be made as soon as the Sultan of Pahang gives his consent,” said a statement from the ministry.

Maszlee’s acceptance of the IIUM presidency did not sit well with Pakatan Harapan supporters as well as student groups, who said it was against the coalition’s promise not to put politicians in charge of public universities.

But Maszlee said he had been tasked to return the public university to its past glory.

In November, FMT reported that Maszlee had agreed to relinquish the post after its four-day convocation ceremony.

“He is in the middle of appointing somebody to replace him. However, the process will take time since consent is needed from the prime minister and the sultan of Pahang,” an aide to the minister had said then.

But checks on IIUM’s official website showed Maszlee’s name as president of the university.

Meanwhile, Gerakan Pembebasan Akademic activist Azura Nasron told FMT a meeting would be held tonight among student activists to discuss the issue and decide their “next course of action”.

The Sultan of Pahang had named Maszlee as its president to serve for three years.

Maszlee is the third education minister to assume the top post since its establishment more than three decades ago.

He has since said several candidates who are internationally known and not politicians have been identified to replace him.

Their names are believed to have been submitted to the sultan, he said.