Appointment of Maszlee Malik as Education Minister raises concern among Malaysians

May 20, 2018

Appointment of Maszlee Malik as  Education Minister raises concern among Malaysians

by FMT Reporters

Image result for Ahmad Farouk Musa

Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa questions double standards by those who defend Zakir Naik’s freedom of speech but oppose the right of Muslims to practise their preferred school of thought.

PETALING JAYA: Prominent Muslim activist Dr. Ahmad Farouk Musa said he was not surprised by the storm of protests that greeted the appointment of Maszlee Malik as the Education Minister, but said a bigger worry was whether the Perlis fatwa committee member has the courage to press ahead with the concept of Bangsa Malaysia and resist pressures from extremists on Malaysia’s schooling system.

“The main issue here is whether he has the same courage as Dr Mahathir in facing the two extreme camps in this country, the Chinese educationist extremist and the conservative Malay educationist groups,” Farouk, who heads the outspoken Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), told FMT.

A debate has been raging over Maszlee’s suitability for the post since he was named by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Friday. Critics point to Maszlee’s defence of controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik, who is wanted in India over allegations of extremism and money laundering.

They are also concerned with Maszlee’s leaning towards Salafist Islam, and his close association with Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, who was recently summoned to a panel hearing on missing activist Amri Che Mat, who Asri had slammed for practising Shia Islam, which local Muslim bureaucrats label as “deviant”.

Image result for maszlee malik simpang renggam

Dr. Maszlee Malik–Minister of Education

Maszlee’s supporters have alluded to his academic background and social activities, with others saying his defence of Naik was based on his belief in free speech.

Farouk said the criticism was expected, and questioned Maszlee’s openness as claimed by his supporters.

“If one were to argue that his defense of Zakir Naik was based on freedom of expression, then this freedom also requires him to grant the same to the Shias,” said Farouk, adding that it was only natural to link Maszlee’s opposition to the second largest Muslim denomination to his “Salafist” leaning.

“There cannot be a double standard in preaching for freedom of expression.”

Salafist Islam refers to a movement within Sunni Islam, with roots going back to Wahhabism, the supposedly puritan form of Islam that is officially adopted in Saudi Arabia.

Opposition to PPSMI

Farouk, a medical lecturer at Monash University Malaysia, who was once active with the Muslim Professionals Forum that Maszlee is also part of, said the calls for Mahathir to hold the education portfolio was based on the public’s confidence that he could initiate radical reforms in the sector.

This, he said, included the call by the Chinese education group Dong Zong to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate, and the pressure from Malay groups seeking to abolish the study of Science and Mathematics in English.

“Only he (Mahathir) has the strength and determination in facing this highly debatable issue,” said Farouk, who has supported past government initiatives under Mahathir to emphasise the use of English in schools.

“How do we compete at the International arena when we forego the most important language of science and technology in the 21st century?” he asked.

A policy championed by Mahathir, the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English, or PPSMI, was aborted in 2011 by then education minister Muhyiddin Yassin, following protests from Malay groups.

The move was welcomed by Ikram, an umbrella organisation of Muslim groups, of which Maszlee is a committee member.

“We oppose any attempts to revive PPSMI because we are convinced that the decision by the education ministry is based on its internal findings,” the group had then said in a statement.

Maszlee, 44, who joined PPBM last March, won the Simpang Renggam parliamentary seat in Johor in the May 9 polls.

The former lecturer who taught subjects related to Islamic Jurisprudence at the International Islamic University was named as education minister after Mahathir changed his mind about holding the post himself.

Mahathir said he would abide by a Pakatan Harapan promise that the Prime Minister would not hold any other portfolio.

But within 24 hours of the announcement, over 60,000 signed an online petition urging Mahathir to return to the post, saying he “will bring much needed reforms to the education system in this country”.

20 thoughts on “Appointment of Maszlee Malik as Education Minister raises concern among Malaysians

  1. This is not the only appointment that will be deemed to be controversial…as the new government comes to terms with the magnitude of their victory, their unpreparedness is bound to lead to faltering decisions…

    With the initial euphoria over, Malaysians can best help by stepping back and allow PH a year to settle in and get on with their job…

  2. Malaysian expect an overhaul of the Education System which is a monumental Task. We request TDM to fill the education portfolio.

  3. From the little that I read online, even Dr Mazlee is shocked to be made the Education Minister. Dr Mazlee would really need to step up and tell the world who he is, who he is not and his idea of Harapan’s education policy. I know I really hated DSAI as an education minister while I was in SRJK. Between my siblings, we are at odds today on what we wish to see in a good Malaysian education policy. My sister like to see the abolishment of SRJK and of course Islamic schools for the benefit of SK. I say I only see Malaysian Chinese undergraduates who speak Mandarin in Stanford and UC Berkeley this past decade, and suggest we are already old style modernists ( *ahem* all of my siblings went through SRJK, even though none of our cousins did. We were Cinapek). We would be mere liberal fascists if we think abolishment of the fringe(if I can say that) is the only solution to an already fractured society for at least a generation or two. So, that was just some personal family chat, which likely took place in many families also. I think there is no clear good choice on education minister.
    Clearly a 92 education minister is not a sustainable answer also.
    Speaking of underlying idea of being Salafi, I say Confucianism has a lot in common with being Salafi, as Confucius’ core idea are words to a less civilized conquerors about the graceful ways of doing things learned from a more civilized conquered society from the standpoint of being clerics from previous dynasty. (For those who don’t know,儒, the Chinese character for Confucianism, refers to the clothing of those clerics ) Then, our so called old-style English medium schools is really not so different also. I guess one thing in common we all have is that we all agree that current national system is failing the people’s aspiration. I don’t know. I still miss the days growing up from a no pressure samseng school I grew up with, when Physical Education means everyone can do whatever they want. Physics lessons are time for us to lepak, as we all joke that our Form Five physics teacher can mark us wrong when we correctly put down 0 acceleration always = 0 velocity as False. She insisted her teacher’s copy of the work book says that is true. Too much pressure on teachers and the students, like what Dr Mazlee suggests. Jokes aside, “Just Relax” is a good Harapan plan as a counter culture ethics we can all teach ourselves and our kids. Many Malaysian parents aspire to pay use their family fortune to send their kids to liberal Ivy Leagues in US, which nearly all started by clerics. These kids will all learn the same thing not so different from what Confucius and Salafists are trying to say. There is room for a idyllic graceful consciousness. The ironic part is that some parents have to work to death, while some others have to sell their soul to send their children to learn those things which would all be forgotten once they go for their MBA. Harapan is all we have.

    • Because of our education direction towards Islamization for 20 something years, govt cannot blamed certain folks are just paranoid. I hope I am wrong about our education minister. Lastly, we cannot denied Malaysia is a Muslim majority country and we can only hope the brand of Islam is more tolerance towards non-Muslim.

    • Freedom of speech needs to be defended when one’s speech is suppressed by government, not when what is said is the truth.

  4. Katasayang, with due respect to your opinion as shared here, i disagree with you.

    For the many reasons, as mentioned by lawyer Siti Kassim and others, i think this appointment is a colossal mistake – even if you, lim kit siang and Hannah Yeo are on record asking that we give this chap a chance. Why?

    For an answer, lets look at our recent past using Mahathir’ start as premier and Najib’ downfall as the cut off points.I think you too should be able to recognise that our leaders from Mahathir to Najib were colossal mistakes. From their actions, we all can discern that neither were interested in the country’s future.

    Mahathir spent all his 22 years screwing up this country. Examining his actions, it suggests that there was only 2 things he did well :

    1. making his children and his cronies wealthy; and

    2. pulling wool over people’s eyes.Both these accomplishments were not country focused and thus were/is not good for the country.

    And as for Najib, he copied Mahathir , like any good understudy. His children, step children, his sibblings and good friends are filthy rich just like mahathir, his family ( both immediate and extended ) and his croniies.

    These are the kind of leaders we have had over the last 35 to 40 years. These were leaders who were given a CHANCE to express their leadership qualities but all they did was screw the country up.

    So now i ask , why should this self acclaimed Islamist, Salafist, Zakir Naik apologist , etc., be given a chance? There are so many good Malaysian’s out there. Why should it be an Islamist, Salafist, Zakir Naik first person AND NOT A MALAYSIAN FIRST PERSON?

    • //There are so many good Malaysian’s out there.
      outside of Malaysia that you mean? There was Jho Low a few years back. I briefly saw a speech he gave in the SRJK school he attended while he is still special in 1MDB. He essentially says something to mean ‘be like him’, and there is no racism in Malaysia, and it seems his headmaster agrees.

      In any case, I am unsure what is our disagreement? I happen to agree with you a lot on what you have said.

  5. This was a political ‘Job’ by Octo.. Cynical perhaps, but the same outcome.
    He read the situation well. Boy, so early on, you blokes have been suckered..

    According to the MP seats won by the component parties, by right the Edu-Min should belong to PKR, since they do not have one of the Big 4 Ministries (i.e Home. Finance, Defense, Edu).

    Octo co-opted everyone by ‘pretending’ to aspire to be the EduMin – which should be, cuz it’s the hardest Ministry to control and his force of personality and determination will see the PH manifesto accomplished. Of course, flakes like LKS and Anwar go on record as saying it’s doable, despite the ‘newbie smart ass’ democrats saying negative.. Principles, what??!!

    Since there was resistance, Octo blithely passed it on to his own party (PPBM) functionary – who’s just a run-of-the-mill academic and social commentator without any Governmental experience whatsoever. Certainly no Technocrat, looking at his CV. More like a ‘choir-boy’.

    To be a good EduMin, the applicant must have the Gravitas of depleted Uranium, the Testicular Fortitude of Steel and the Intellect and Experience of someone like Octo.. Otherwise, policies made become misdirected, misapplied or otherwise missing in the bureaucratic swamp of MoE..

    But this is yes, Malusia again – simply because we are so stupid and can never see beyond the tips of our gonads..

    • Gonads……hmmm….that kaytee uses gonads….

      So that reason that doggie never bite kaytee

      Nobody ever see that stupid dog and kaytee…….are they one? Hahahaha…..and ah neh living in australia……hahahaha

    • looes74, you must’ve have gonads instead of a neural network in your cephalic aspect of your soma. Impossible to correct..

  6. The Minister who comes in has the the task to enable our children to be able to read, write and count when they leave school. The Examination System is an important part education because it develops your ability to develop a disciplined approach in what we do after you have forgotten what you have learnt in school. In your working life you will be all the time given tasks that have to be completed within a time-frame and your training in preparing for examinations will help you. Further it also trains you to retain knowledge.
    Our schools should provide our children with these tools to help them look for information of any kind for as long as they are on this earth..

  7. Some of mankind’s greatest thinkers arose during what is known as the axial age, and none of them went through the kind of schooling we’ve had for the past century or so. Modern thinkers like Bertrand Russell and Einstein were also lucky enough to escape schooling’s worst aspects – the former had private tutors instead of attending regular school and the latter was never comfortable under the school system. Charles Dickens and Mark Twain also had, as Lincoln described his own experience, “regularly irregular” education. I was lucky enough to play truant for more than half my school life, which was short enough as it was. So I would counsel that we relax a bit: schooling is a means of managing unemployment of youths, and a brainwashing instrument to ensure that the government has a compliant citizenry.

    • TLMan: Yes, as such schools were originally devised not for the outstanding thinker, but for plebeians. The earliest schools in newly- industrialising England were called mechanics institutes and were frankly set up in order to prepare the masses for dull, brain-killing factory work. Of course, as time went on, even basic education was sufficient to produce troublesome workers, and certain “values” had to be inculcated as well, values from – where else – the upper class. The unwashed masses were often deemed to be somewhat stupid, lazy, people with lax morality, sexual or otherwise. By the 19th century cultural critics such as Matthew Arnold suggested that aristocratic values be transmitted to the lower class via the middle class through the teaching of English. Literature, and indeed education itself, was an ideological weapon, and still is even today.

      Understanding schools for what they really are doesn’t mean we should reject them. It is enough that we don’t get over-excited and see them as a panacea for societal problems, for the production of highly critical, intelligent populations. A close look at the general populations of the West, including the United States, or the East, including China, India, Indonesia, etc., will surely disabuse us of that delusion.

  8. I agree with you. The primary aim of education should be to enable children to able to read, write and count. With those tools they will be able to go forward in an incremental manner depending on what they want to do.

  9. I am as a student, also agree that Dr Maszlee Malik being the Ministry of Education because he said actually the big cause that many students bags are heavy is the effection from the textbook

  10. You have no idea what Salafi means. Dr Maszlee, Dr MAZA and the likes are obvious in their speeches and stance and behaviour similar to Ikhwanis, as in Ikhwanul Muslimin which is founded by a staunch Sufi, Hassan al Banna and deviant Sayyid Qutub.

    • Is Malaysia so short of religious preacher that we need the likes of Up Zakir to stir up the religious harmony of our country? UMNO needs him in their efforts to stir up religious hatred but why is it that the PH government still keeping him here. India wants him back and we should as a good neighbour oblige.

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