Academics’ movement backs Maszlee Malik as education minister despite apprehension

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Photograph: Berita Harian

Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (Gerak) congratulates Dr Maszlee Malik on being elected the MP for Simpang Renggam at the recent general election and for now being appointed the Malaysian Minister of Education.

Since the announcement of his appointment, it feels as though there is a lynching mob out for Maszlee’s blood. People are throwing around terms like Islamist in a derogatory manner and we suspect many don’t even know what that means.

Granted, we are supposed to be on the road to more openness now. But we find this mob mentality rather unhealthy and distasteful.

Maszlee may not be an ideal candidate for some of us. But at least he is an academic who shares our vision and objectives. And as for his alleged ideological leanings, we believe that he is at least the devil that we know rather than any purported angel that we don’t.

Let us note the new social context we are in. We are not going to accept going back to the past. Let us also note that one minister alone with his personal views cannot just change the whole education system in one go. It is a juggernaut – a very hot potato juggernaut that parents, educationists and civil society will defend and attempt to influence.

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Yes, we must continue to exercise our rights to express our views and dissent. But we must do so in a responsible manner that will not jeopardise our broader objective of putting our higher education on the right track. Indeed, let us debate, discuss, even disagree, if we must. But let us do so based on knowledge, not blind ignorance or a follow-the-leader jump-on-the-bandwagon mentality

So, Gerak extends to Maszlee our full support regardless of the apprehensions that some have about him. We need to move forward and we cannot wait for an ideal situation to do so. There will never be one.

And in the new spirit of openness, Gerak’s support for Maszlee shall not be a blind one. We aim to engage Maszlee and this new government in a substantively constructive yet critical manner for the overall good of all Malaysians. We urge all Malaysians to do likewise to ensure we secure a lasting democracy for our society.

Prof Zaharom Nain is chairman of the Gerak executive committee.

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Mei Fong ChangDave Singh SandhuAgnes JacksonSoakkoon WongHHLim Recent comment authors
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Dave Singh Sandhu

Not only we need a good educationist but a good administrator to overhaul the whole education department and remove the BN culture inseminated in the staff over the years of UMNO rule. The Minister has to change the mindset of everyone in the department that education has nothing to do with race nor religion and to meet the demands and changes required so that our future generation will excel and meet the challenges required ahead.That particular person should not have any bias or religious inclination that can influence his duties.

Mei Fong Chang

Agree wholeheartedly.

Dave Singh Sandhu

we have seen what happened to our History text books when they were turned into Islamic studies.

Agnes Jackson

Dr Mazlee is unknown to the majority. The focus is NOT on whether he is a Zakir N. supporter or whether he was among the Ikram group that called for the removal of English in Math and Science as this is unverifiable. Neither is the focus on whether he is qualified which I believe he is based n what I have read. The focus is instead on the colossus called THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION with it’s 550,000 staff, that has been under BN rule for 60 years. This has been the only ministry that has NOT seen improvement nor change in that period. It has moved backwards. So backward that that it could afford to manipulate the data from PISA results conducted by the OECD. The point here is, in not so many words, is that we need someone to go in with a whip. Someone who knows the Ministry well enough to understand immediately what needs to be done. Dr Mazlees first comment centered on reducing teachers burden. Every new incoming minister said that and failed. So he’s missing the point. Above all he needs to improve THE LEARNING. So it is not about him and his creds. Sleep… Read more »

HHLim
HHLim

Sorry, even if he is not as ideologically constricted as his credentials might suggest, I still think we need someone with more knowledge of our educational system, more administrative experience, and more political clout for the demanding job.

Soakkoon Wong

I wouldn’t use the phrase “the devil we know” so soon. Just remain critical but with no preconceptions. No one should be GUILTY before he is allowed his day in any Ministry. I am a Christian but I do not subscribe to quick Islamophobia. The writer of this article is right. Many don’t even know what the word “Islamist” means. In the New Malaysia, no more labels ya? Setiap orang adalah insan kerdil. Namun begitu, anugerah Tuhan ialah kebijaksanaan. Setiap rakyat , tidak kira yang berijazah atau tidak, mampu mengkritik dan PERLU mengkritik dasar- dasar kerajaan. We have moved on from the era of Pak Turut. So Dr Maszlee Malik, we can take you on.