Maszlee quits as education minister, vows loyalty to Dr M

Maszlee Malik, with his deputy Teo Nie Ching, speaking to the media at the education ministry to announce his resignation.

PUTRAJAYA: Maszlee Malik today announced his resignation as the education minister, some 20 months after he was appointed to the high-profile post with expectations of major reforms in Malaysia’s education sector.

“In the spirit of discipline and loyalty to the government and the party, I, Maszlee Malik, would like to surrender my post to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” he told a press conference, confirming intense speculation of his exit from the Cabinet.

Maszlee said he had met Mahathir today to hand over his resignation letter.

“I have undeniable loyalty to him, to the party and to the government. Whatever decision I have made, as advised by the prime minister, is in the best interest of the country,” said Maszlee, who added that his decision today was based on Mahathir’s advice.

In a statement, Mahathir confirmed receiving Maszlee’s resignation letter.

“I thank him for his services as a member of the Cabinet.

“I will decide on his successor and make an announcement in due time,” said Mahathir.

Maszlee Malik leaves the press conference in a Perodua Myvi.

At the press conference, Maszlee listed his programmes for educational reforms, including efforts to allow greater academic freedom to universities.

“We cannot implement reforms overnight. There are many complex issues involved, including the existence of corruption,” he said.

He said his critics had overlooked his achievements.

“What happened within the last 20 months did not take place in the last few years,” he said.

Maszlee’s resignation today comes on the heels of the education ministry’s move to introduce the Jawi script as part of the Bahasa Melayu syllabus in vernacular schools.

His tenure had seen a series of controversies related to the education sector, with critics calling for his removal from the Cabinet.

Just weeks after his appointment, he was widely condemned over his self-appointment as the president of his alma mater, the International Islamic University.

He later resigned from the post, but then courted controversy when he announced that school students could wear black shoes to school.

Maszlee had also been criticised for linking racial quotas for the pre-university matriculation course to alleged discrimination by some non-Malay companies against the Bumiputeras.

Maszlee’s tenure was also marred by the distribution of a comic book on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The home ministry subsequently banned the book on grounds it promoted communism and socialism.

In recent days, he was criticised by Chinese and Tamil educationists, particularly Dong Jiao Zong.