PETALING JAYA: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) has praised former education minister Maszlee Malik for his work, saying his support for teachers, student activists and contract workers should be highlighted.
PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan said Maszlee, who resigned last Thursday, had notched up several achievements during his 20-month tenure, and it was unfair to single him out for unpopular decisions.
He said Maszlee had to constantly defend himself because of critical media reports.
Arutchelvan said Maszlee had contributed towards creating a more caring society with such programmes as free breakfast in schools, opening up hotel swimming pools to students, doing away with streaming and exams, and making education more accessible to the disabled and undocumented children.
However, he was especially impressed with Maszlee’s decision to meet the Government Contract Workers Network (JPKK), which had been campaigning for years to improve the plight of contract workers, mainly cleaners and security guards in schools.
“We had previously tried in vain to meet with the previous education minister. Maszlee quite readily gave us an appointment to meet and have a dialogue with us,” he said in a Facebook post.
“He addressed each of our proposals and directed his officials to act on them. He then told us that he will bring up our proposals in the Cabinet meeting the next day.
“True to his promise, he issued a media statement after the Cabinet meeting, saying that he raised the issue of parasitic and underperforming crony contractors (who) will be blacklisted and replaced.
“Maszlee was the first minister who actually looked at the fundamental issue rather than give the usual excuses.”
Arutchelvan said Maszlee addressed some of the main issues raised by teachers, which saw him earn the support of the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), despite many of his reforms in the school system not going down well on the ground because of an “uncooperative bureaucracy”.
He praised Maszlee for protecting student activists by preventing university authorities from taking action against students each time they expressed themselves through protests and other actions.
He also highlighted Maszlee’s decision to open 10,200 classes to cater to 24,998 disabled children, and the strong work ethics of some of his officers as among the other factors which made him stand out from his predecessors.
While Arutchelvan acknowledged that Maszlee did make several U-turns – such as on the matriculation issue and Jawi – this could have boiled down to his inexperience and insistence on making his point heard, “unlike many other ministers who prefer to be silent in order to survive”.
“Most of these issues were tough issues like Jawi, matriculation and the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC),” he said, adding that Pakatan Harapan, as a team, had been unable to resolve them.