Despite the controversies in Maszlee Malik’s tenure, a large number of Malaysians have banded together to urge Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to reinstate him as education minister.
Maszlee publicly resigned from his post on Thursday (Jan 2), after consultation with the PM.
Just hours after the announcement, an online petition on change.org titled “Keep YB Maszlee Malik as Minister of Education Malaysia” was started by a netizen identified only as Tuah Kencana.
In less than 24 hours, it had already garnered 297,977 signatures.
According to a translation by the Malay Mail, Tuah wrote in the petition that Maszlee’s contributions and efforts were shadowed by unfavourable reports “sensationalised by parties with a vested interest”.
“The decision to resign is a huge loss to the nation,” the petitioner wrote. “Representing community groups, we request that YB Prime Minister, as the foremost statesman, to reinstate Maszlee Malik to shoulder responsibilities as Malaysia’s education minister.”
The petition reportedly had an initial target of 75,000 signatures, but this was later increased to 500,000, after it crossed the 100,000 mark at 9pm on Thursday, and then the 200,000 mark an hour later.
Possible replacements for Maszlee
In a separate report, Malay Mail also cited sources as saying that former Umno minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Marzuki Yahaya were both likely replacements for Maszlee.
Mustapa was also said to be Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s favourite candidate, Malay Mail reported.
Maszlee, who was appointed education minister in 2018, was reported by The Star as saying in a media conference that he was subject to public criticism over issues that were played up, despite the successes his ministry had.
“I have been seen to be the cause of many crises, including the Jawi calligraphy issue, Internet at schools and the free breakfast programme.”
“However, I believe I have placed a foundation and a clear framework for the ministry to follow,” The Star reported him as saying.
Meanwhile, The Star quoted Prime Minister Dr Mahathir as saying that he was thankful for Maszlee’s service, and will announce his successor soon.