LETTER | The Malaysian Academic Movement (Gerak) congratulates Maszlee Malik on being elected as MP for Simpang Renggam in the recent 14th general election, and now, for being appointed the education minister.
Since the announcement of his appointment, it feels as though there is a lynch 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
So, Gerak extends 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.
ZAHAROM NAIN is the chairperson of the Malaysian Academic Movement (Gerak).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.