PETALING JAYA: Dong Jiao Zong has wished Maszlee Malik well after he announced his resignation as education minister, saying he had “done his best” in a difficult position.
The Chinese educationist group has been involved in a dispute with the ministry over the implementation of Jawi in vernacular schools as part of the Bahasa Melayu syllabus.
That issue was among the biggest in a string of controversies during Maszlee’s 20-month tenure as minister.
“This position is not easy, it bears the high expectations of many people, and I believe he has done his best. I sincerely wish him all the best in the future to achieve his dream,” Leong Seng Yee, chief executive officer of Dong Zong, told FMT.
Leong said he hoped Maszlee’s successor will inherit his good policies and overcome the hurdles to move towards a more inclusive “new Malaysia”.
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim lamented the public’s impatience which led to Maszlee’s resignation.
She said Maszlee had a tough job implementing reforms in a sector that was “used to a particular way of doing things”.
Noor Azimah, who is part of the National Education Advisory Council, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad had specific things in mind about the nation’s education, adding that the prime minister, too, was impatient.
“Mahathir didn’t see the religiosity in national schools; he wanted Science, Maths and English to be scaled up and initiatives made to make Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) more appealing to students.
“It is in the process, it’s a work in progress, except that it’s such a huge portfolio, what with higher education problems and all that. It wasn’t able to take off last year,” she said.
The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) said it regretted that politics dictated education, in voicing their sadness over Maszlee’s resignation.
In a statement, its secretary general, Harry Tan, said they hoped Mahathir would resolve outstanding education issues.
Meanwhile, Johan Ariffin Samad, the former CEO of Kota Kinabalu-based think tank Insitutute for Development Studies Sabah, said he was “relieved” to hear of Maszlee’s resignation.
“He was a controversial education minister and if he continued in his post, he would have been a distraction and brought down the education portfolio.
“If you ask me what were his two significant contributions, people would think about the black shoes and Jawi issue,” he said.
MCA president Wee Ka Siong, a fierce critic of Maszlee, said the minister should not blame others or public perception for his performance.
Maszlee had, at a press conference, lamented how sensational headlines and sensitive issues were played up by certain parties, and that the ministry’s achievements were not highlighted
“He is the minister in charge of education, he calls the shots and provides leadership,” Wee told FMT, adding the buck stopped with Maszlee.
Former education minister Mahdzir Khalid said Maszlee, like several other Pakatan Harapan ministers, failed to take into account the sentiments on the ground in pushing policies.
He said that regardless of ministries, “wisdom” was needed in implementing policies.
“We are a multiracial society, we must know how to handle sensitivities. Stakeholders and the government will always have their respective views.
“There will be ‘grey areas’ or issues which cannot be resolved but considerations need to be made so as to handle these differences,” Mahdzir said.