Education Minister Maszlee Malik (above) is the "ideal" candidate for the president's position of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), said the university today.
In a statement, the IIUM's corporate communications division said this is because Maszlee as a former lecturer at the university is well-versed with the varsity's workings and could help propel it to greater heights.
According to the statement further, the minister agreed to take up the appointment without any remuneration for the entire duration of his tenure.
"IIUM's head of constitution, Sultan Ahmad Shah (below), has consented to the appointment of Maszlee as the seventh IIUM president for a period of three years.
"The IIUM management is of the opinion that Maszlee is the ideal candidate because he is a former IIUM lecturer and has also led the IIUM Academic Staff's Association and fought for the rights and welfare of the lecturers," said the statement.
Won't be paid
It added that despite his busy schedule as education minister, Maszlee had expressed his readiness to hold the new post and said he would not be accepting any payment for the job.
"IIUM is extremely lucky to have the education minister as its president as its administration structure is different from other universities and needs a leadership which understands the institution to put it on the global stage.
"Maszlee's appointment was also supported by IIUM rector Dzulkifli Abdul Razak," said the statement.
The university also thanked former Umno minister Rais Yatim for his stint as the IIUM president.
Yesterday, IIUM’s Academic Staff Association had congratulated Maszlee on his appointment as university president on its official Facebook page.
This, however, courted backlash from both Harapan lawmakers and the opposition.
Kampung Tunku assemblyperson Lim Yi Wei urged Maszlee to relinquish his post as he said it 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's role is executive or non-executive is immaterial. We should not be breaking our manifesto by using loopholes,” she said.
Umno supreme council member Reezal Merican Naina Merican (above) also asked Maszlee to reconsider his appointment, pointing out the latter already had too much on his plate as a minister.
Appointed by sultan
Meanwhile, The Star quoted National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) chairperson Wan Saiful Wan Jan as saying that Maszlee's appointment as IIUM president was acceptable as it was made by the Sultan Ahmad Shah who is also the Sultan of Pahang.
"Maszlee's appointment was made by Tuanku Sultan Pahang as the constitutional head of IIUM.
"This shows the sultan's wisdom in making a choice, picking someone who knows the university inside out over and above everything else," he said.
According to Wan Saiful, Maszlee was committed to bringing back IIUM's international glory days and would prepare for the baton to be passed to someone who will drive his improvements even further after him.
Harapan had in its election manifesto promised to restore academic freedom at tertiary institutions.
Maszlee himself had in an interview following his appointment to the cabinet vowed to never “misuse universities for political interests” and promised universities full autonomy and academic freedom.