Home Civil Society Voices Academics’ movement backs Maszlee Malik as education minister despite apprehension

Academics’ movement backs Maszlee Malik as education minister despite apprehension

Photograph: Berita Harian

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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.

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

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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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