Maszlee today announced his resignation as the education minister, some 20 months after he was appointed to the high-profile post.
Maszlee Malik announced his resignation, effective tomorrow, during a special media conference in Putrajaya this evening.
He said the decision was made after meeting with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whom he described as a father figure.
“After meeting with Tun (Mahathir), and on his advice – who to me is a statesman, a father figure – with a willing and heavy heart I, Maszlee Malik, return my position as Education Minister to the prime minister effective Jan 3,” he said.
“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 for the best interest of the country,” said Maszlee.
The former lecturer cited three of his decisions which are perceived to have plunged the Pakatan Harapan government into crisis.
The three decisions he named were for the teaching of Jawi in the vernacular schools, providing the schools with internet access, and the free breakfast programme in school.
“I have been seen as creating many crises for the leadership, especially the issues relating to the teaching of Jawi, internet for schools and the free breakfast programme for schools,” he said, reading from a statement today.
Maszlee, who has been the constant target of criticism, also listed the achievements of the Education Ministry under his stewardship, 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 heel 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.