Cabinet has selected acting education minister

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN

THE Cabinet has agreed on an acting education minister following the resignation of Dr Maszlee Malik (picture) last Thursday, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

However, Lim did not reveal specifics, insisting that an announcement will be made by Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at a time deemed appropriate.

The selection of a Cabinet member is the prerogative of the PM.

“We did make a decision on that, but let the PM announce it,” Lim said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur (KL) yesterday after attending a Cabinet meeting which he described as a “very long” session.

Maszlee’s sudden resignation last week has sparked rumours on who would fill the void, with candidates from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia viewed as frontrunners.

Speculation is also rife that the ministry could be split into two.

Reasons for Maszlee’s resignation remain unclear, although a letter from Dr Mahathir suggested that the Bersatu chairman was unhappy that Maszlee defied the Cabinet directives on the teaching of Jawi in schools, free Internet service and the free breakfast programme.

Dr Mahathir, however, said there were “many reasons” for Maszlee to step down, adding that there were things the former education minister did right.

However, “because of the other reasons”, the PM had felt it “necessary” for Maszlee to relinquish his post.

The PM also brushed aside a report claiming plans to revive the King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP) were the reason behind Maszlee’s removal from the Cabinet. Maszlee has also described the news report as libellous.

The KSCIP, a centre backed by Malaysia and Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism, was announced by former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak following a visit by Saudi’s King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

It was supposed to be built on a 6.47ha land plot in Putrajaya, but the plan was scrapped after Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the federal government.

KSCIP’s temporary office at Menara HLA on Jalan Ampang, KL, was also ordered to be closed immediately. The Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security, an agency under the Defence Ministry, has since stepped into KSCIP’s role.

Maszlee announced his resignation last Thursday after a meeting with Dr Mahathir in Putrajaya. In doing so, the former lecturer reiterated his commitment and loyalty to Bersatu and Dr Mahathir.

The move has further fuelled speculation of a major Cabinet reshuffle after a series of policy reversals and unfulfilled election promises mired the popularity of the PH government, which was voted into power on May 9, 2018.

Maszlee’s departure marked the first resignation since rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle began last year amid growing discontentment over the underperformance of several Cabinet members and the switching of parties by seasoned politicians.