Malaysia’s politics has had a rocky start to the year with the resignation of Dr Maszlee Malik as Education Minister.
He said at a media conference at the ministry in Putrajaya yesterday that the resignation would take effect today (Jan 3).
The minister did not give any specific reason for his sudden resignation but he was the target of massive criticism following the planned introduction this year of Jawi and Khat (Islamic calligraphy) in non-Malay schools.
During his tenure, there were a series of controversies relating to the education sector, as a result of which a large segment of the population wanted him removed from the Cabinet.
Dr Maszlee resigned after meeting Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. “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.
Dr Maszlee became the target of criticism after “reforming” the colour of the shoes used by students. Malaysian primary and secondary government school students have used white shoes but, after the Pakatan Harapan won the elections in 2018, Dr Maszlee announced a change from white to black.
This led to netizens blasting the Pakatan for having a fake reformist agenda, calling its members “black shoe” reformists.
Dr Maszlee, however, became infamous for the Jawi-Khat controversy that sparked protests among vernacular schools and even within Pakatan.
Netizens are overjoyed with the resignation, with members of WhatsApp and Telegram groups speculating on the reason for the minister quitting this early in the year.
In some media groups, they are saying that Dr Mahathir may be forced to reshuffle the Cabinet this month or next month following the Education Minister’s resignation.
In 2018, Dr Mahathir himself took the Education portfolio but relinquished it following criticism from Pakatan members.
Dr Mahathir has announced he will appoint a new Education Minister soon.