Ministers deemed to be “under performers” are at risk of being dropped after the Cabinet saw its first resignation at the start of the new year.
Dr Maszlee Malik has resigned after serving for 20 months as Education Minister. His resignation takes effect from today.
While many did not expect changes in the Cabinet would happen so soon into the new year, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said a reshuffle would likely take place before Malaysia hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit. Apec is set to take place in November.
Sources believe that Maszlee’s leaving would “not be the last”.
“A few ministers and even deputy ministers will be removed,” said a source.
Maszlee’s resignation sparked speculation about who will be chosen to replace him.
One name that has cropped up is former Umno minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
Mustapa, who is Jeli MP, is now a member of Bersatu, which he joined on Sept 18 last year.
Fondly known as Tok Pa, the 70-year-old seasoned politician had served the Barisan Nasional Cabinet in various capacities.
During Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s tenure, Mustapa was the Higher Education Minister.
Dr Mahathir, in a statement, said that he had accepted Maszlee’s resignation as Education Minister.
“I will determine his replacement and will make an announcement on this soon.”
The Prime Minister met Maszlee at the Perdana Leadership Foundation before the latter addressed the media at the ministry at 4.30pm yesterday.
During his announcement, Maszlee was a figure of calmness throughout the 20-minute session with the media.
He expressed regret that despite the good work his ministry had done during his 20-month tenure, it has often been overshadowed by controversial issues.
“I have been seen to be the cause of many crises, including the Jawi calligraphy issue, Internet at schools and the free breakfast programme.
“However, I believe I have placed a foundation and a clear framework for the ministry to follow.
“The philosophy is ‘Education for All’. My decision (to resign) will not be an end, but the start of a new dawn.
“A country’s reforms cannot succeed if we do not make the people’s welfare a priority,” he said.
Jiao Zong president Ong Chiow Chuen said Maszlee’s resignation “may be a good thing” for himself and also the future of education.
“Compared to ministers from the previous government, he has been rather incompetent in his duty to bring better change in the country’s education system.
“There had been too much religious and racial leanings in how he handled education issues,” Ong said, adding that some of Maszlee’s “peculiar changes and suggestions” in the past had also raised concerns among various stakeholders. – The Star