There are loopholes within the ministry that have been exploited to make profits
by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & AFIQ AZIZ / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE Ministry of Education (MoE) is considering to lodge reports on misconduct within the ministry following its pledge to work closely with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to combat graft.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (picture) said there are many loopholes within the ministry that have been exploited over the years to make profits for certain quarters.
“You can just imagine, under this ministry, we have 10,200 schools, 38 polytechnics, 20 public universities and over 100 community colleges. We are also dealing with more than 400 private education institutions that require their licences to be renewed annually. All those figures mean tonnes of money,” Maszlee told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.
“If there are cases (of corruption) definitely, we have given and will be giving files that bring red flags to us,” he said.
Maszlee had also recently invited newly appointed MACC chief Latheefa Koya to discuss and explore areas of cooperation with the ministry to create a corrupt-free Malaysia.
Maszlee said the ministry is currently working to strengthen its internal operation and enhance the level of integrity among its officials. This, according to him, will be done through further engagements with anti-graft busters.
“We are working closely with the MACC to further enhance our integrity unit. Personally, I do not get myself involved in all that (contract awards and selection). I do not mingle around with the contractors and I think no ministers should do so,” he said.
One case that has stood out recently involves Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, wife to former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, who has been charged for soliciting and receiving kickbacks from a RM1.25 billion contract for rural schools in Sarawak.
The project was for the supply of solar panel hybrid power systems and the maintenance and operation of electricity generators to 369 rural schools in Sarawak. However, it was reported that not a single solar power unit had been installed so far.
It was alleged that Rosmah had received a bribe of over RM6.5 million through her aide Datuk Rizal Mansor for helping the contractor secure the project through direct negotiation with the MoE. Both Rosmah and Rizal have since claimed trial over the scandal. Meanwhile, speaking about his appointment, Maszlee claimed that many politicians have eyes on the portfolio although their interest was not towards building the country’s education system.
He said the position at the ministry, which has been given a federal budget of over RM60 billion this year, should be entrusted to people from academia instead of full-on politicians.
“I would strongly encourage that because at least they know the magnitude of the responsibility and the path where it leads to,” said Maszlee.
“In the past, we could see a lot of things happening and saw glitches in the education system when the ministry was led by a pure politician.
“To be honest, a lot of people are after this position not because of the aspiration to create a better education system but to make a lot of fortune out of it and I could see how they can make a fortune out of this chair. This is why we need an academic to be here,” he said.