KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 5 ― Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (PPBM) Rais Hussin defended today party colleague and Education Minister Maszlee Malik's appointment as president of the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM).
The PPBM chief strategist acknowledged the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition had promised autonomy for universities in its GE14 manifesto to prevent political interference, but argued that certain exceptions were allowed, including Maszlee’s appointment.
According to Rais, IIUM was in need of urgent and comprehensive revamp and Maszlee, a former academic, was just the man to undertake the job.
“IIUM needs drastic change. Real change. Credible change. Some exception sometimes is all right. The manifesto is in two parts. The second part of the manifesto comes with a five- year timeline to deliver. So we have up to five years.
“But certainly we don’t have to wait that long. Dr Maszlee knows IIUM inside out. He will be a transition measure to reinvent IIUM, credibly. Put back IIUM in its track consistent with its aims and objective. You have powerful combo of Dr Maszlee and Tan Sri Dzul to make it happen,” Rais told Malay Mail when contacted.
Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak is the IIUM rector.
“Being an IIUM organic product myself, I know the challenges in IIUM. You cannot get a better person that Dr Maszlee to be the president as a transition or interim measure to overcome the challenges,” Rais added.
He said Maszlee who is also Simpang Renggam MP should be assessed on his performance and not his appointment.
“With both powerful personalities, IIUM will once again be back to what they were before, during the time of Tan Sri Professor Dr Muhammad Kamal Hassan,” he said, referring to one of IIUM's former rectors.
Yesterday, the IIUM Academic Staff Association posted a congratulatory message to Maszlee on his appointment on its official Facebook page, triggering controversy.
In addition to Maszlee, his political secretary Mohd Nizam Morad is also on the board of directors member in Universiti Utara Malaysia.
It is unclear when Nizam was appointed as he is an alumni of the university.
The minister’s appointment also drew criticism from his PH allies such as Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei of DAP who called it a “clear conflict of interest”.
She demanded Maszlee relinquish the position, saying there was no ambiguity in the pact’s pledge to ensure the independence of the country’s learning institutions.
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