Maszlee says will remain as IIUM president to return university to glory days

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
Student activist Asheeq Ali (right) meets Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik after a meeting with a group of students in Kuala Lumpur September 12, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — Education Minister Maszlee Malik today said that he will maintain his appointment as the president of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), with aspirations to turn the institution into the “Oxford of Muslim countries”.

Maszlee said he would raise the matter of his appointment with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, following a backlash by certain quarters, mainly student activists.

“They (the students) have many claims, but not all of them can be done instantly, as there has to be some discussion between the stakeholders before reaching a decision concerning me relinquishing my position.

“But it is my personal vow to bring IIUM back to its glory days after their recent performances have been less than satisfactory; after that has been carried out, I will step down,” he said during a press conference after holding a meeting with student activists here along Jalan Pantai Baharu.

Maszlee said he was not in violation of any existing laws, where he explained IIUM’s board of governors was not sanctioned under existing legislations in the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA), better known as AUKU.

“What people need to understand is IIUM is an international university, where the board of governors are made of international individuals.

“Also, I was appointed with a mission to improve the university, it would have been irresponsible (to reject the appointment),” he added.

A group of about 20 student activists, led Asheeq Ali, held a meeting with Maszlee today, with both sides unable to come to an agreement.

“We have given Maszlee seven days to relinquish his position after he gave us fluffy decisions during the meeting saying he wants to improve the university.

“If the deadline is not met, we will mobilise more students to hold protests,” Asheeq said.

The students had during the meeting stated their grouses to Maszlee, the main issue being political involvement in education institutions.

“We are fighting for university autonomy, so there needs to be changes made.

“We want universities to be free of political interference,” said Asheeq.

On the deadline given to him to resign as IIUM president, Maszlee said the decision to appoint him was not his, adding to relinquish the position immediately was something beyond his jurisdiction.

He detailed how he was appointed by the Sultan of Pahang to the position, who was advised by the Head of Hosts, in this case, it was Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“If I had appointed myself, that would have been in violation, but this was not the case,” he added.

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