Maszlee resigns, Cabinet reshuffle imminent

I will determine who will succeed him and that will be announced soon, says Dr Mahathir

by AZREEN HANI & ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by BERNAMA

DR MASZLEE Malik (picture) has resigned as the education minister and a reshuffle of the 19-month-old Cabinet is likely to happen soon as the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) tries to regain public confidence after a slew of criticisms levelled against government ministers.

Maszlee, whose resignation is effective today, met Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya yesterday to tender his resignation. Dr Mahathir accepted the former lecturer’s resignation and will assume the role of education minister, a position the 94-year old held in 1974.

Maszlee has been drawing flak over some of his decisions, despite a few of his proposed education reforms
that would
have benefitted the country.

PH has been losing ground support over the performance of some of its ministers.

Maszlee did not offer the reasons behind his abrupt resignation, but reiterated his commitment and loyalty to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and its chairman Dr Mahathir. Maszlee is a member of Bersatu’s Supreme Council.

“I have a strong belief that our beloved PM has a very insightful view (on how) to lead this country. I have undeniable loyalty towards him, to the party and to the government.

“Whatever decision that has been made, that has been advised to me by the PM, is for the best interest of the country. I’m always here to serve the country in whatever position I’m in,” he said at a packed press conference in Putrajaya.

“We hope these coming days will be a new dawn for Malaysia, and we hope 2020 will be a more meaningful year for the country,” Maszlee said.

He expressed regrets that headways made by the ministry, including making education accessible to the poor and disabled, emphasis on TVET (technical and vocational education and training) and efforts to eliminate administrative burdens on school teachers were not emphasised.

Dr Mahathir thanked the Simpang Renggam MP for his service throughout his term as a Cabinet member.

“I will determine who will succeed him and that will be announced soon,” said the PM in a statement.

Maszlee’s departure marked the first resignation of a Cabinet minister since rumours on a reshuffle of the decision-making body of the government began last year.

Dr Mahathir had said he would make changes to the Cabinet if it would bring positive changes.

According to sources, the said Cabinet reshuffle is imminent this month. Discussions with various stakeholders, including PH component parties, on the possible shake-up are believed to be ongoing.

But the reshuffle may not be broad-based.

“There will be a Cabinet reshuffle and if everything can be done quickly, it may be announced as early as this month.

“There are a lot of consultations and talks between various parties and the PM, so we will see,” a source told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) under condition of anonymity.

Speculations are rife that the Education Ministry may be divided into two ministries — Education Ministry and Higher Education Ministry.

There have also been talks since last month that former International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, also a Bersatu leader, may return to the Cabinet to helm the Higher Education Ministry’s post.

Another source acknowledged that Mustapa’s name has been brought up in the past few months. But discussions remain sketchy at this time.

Dr Mahathir had said the Cabinet reshuffle would happen before the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit this year.

Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad said speculations over the Cabinet line-up had been swirling since PH took over the country’s administration.

“Speculations about a Cabinet reshuffle has been around since Day 1. For me, I just ignore all talks about it, unless it comes from Tun (Dr Mahathir),” he told TMR in a text message.

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said he has no knowledge on the matter. “Unfortunately, I am not privy to this story,” he told TMR.

Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said she is not aware about the speculations and will continue performing her duty as usual. “I am not aware of it at all,” she said.

The housing and local government minister said her focus this year will be on consolidating the government’s housing body.