Kampung Tunku assemblyperson Lim Yi Wei has urged Education Minister Maszlee Malik to relinquish his post as the new president of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).
In a statement today, she said having a minister helming the private university was a “clear conflict of interest”.
“As an academic, Maszlee holds the right credentials for the post (but) as the highest-ranked politician in the Education Ministry, holding the highest position in a university is a clear conflict of interest.
“Whether the president role is executive or non-executive is immaterial. We should not be breaking our manifesto by using loopholes,” she said.
Pakatan Harapan had, in its election manifesto, promised to restore academic freedom at tertiary institutions.
“This was to be done through the abolishment of the University and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA) and other restrictive laws and replacing them with better laws.
“We also promised autonomy - freedom from political meddling and interests, especially concerning the appointment of vice-chancellors and their deputies,” Lim said.
Yesterday, IIUM’s Academic Staff Association congratulated Maszlee on his appointment as university president on its official Facebook page (below).
Before entering politics earlier this year, the Bersatu man had been an academic at IIUM.
Lim, in his statement, quoted Maszlee from an interview the latter did with the New Straits Times back in June where he vowed to never “misuse universities for political interests” and promised universities full autonomy and academic freedom.
His recent appointment cast doubt on this promise, she said.
“Furthermore, his (Maszlee’s) political secretary Mohd Nizam Morad has been appointed to the board of directors of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).
“While details of Nizam’s appointment have not been made public, these two appointments cast doubt on the Education Ministry’s commitment toward academic freedom,” she added.
The DAP politician further said that should Maszlee not relinquish his recent appointment, he would be failing students who had counted on the ruling coalition to restore academic independence.
“To fail to do so would (also) be a slap on the face to the student activists (previously) blacklisted, harassed or detained under the UUCA.
“And to fail to do so would signal to our youth that Harapan has no integrity. In that case, we can no longer blame our youth for swearing off politics for good,” she warned.
Malaysiakini is contacting Maszlee and IIUM for comment.