The International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) is different from other public universities in the country, in terms of its governance structure, and it is not bound by the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (AUKU), said Education Minister Maszlee Malik.
He said in view of this, one cannot say that his appointment as IIUM president position was against Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto.
Because of these differences, and furthermore, conflict of interest did not arise, he said.
“It would be against Harapan manifesto, only if I elected myself to be the head of - for example, UM, UPM or UUM etc, because they have different structures, this one is totally different,” he told a press conference after making a courtesy call on Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg at the latter’s office at the new state legislative Building in Kuching today.
He said UIA has its own constitution, because when it was formed, it was supposed to be an international university where the board members consist of ambassadors or representatives from other countries, and its president with the ceremonial powers normally given to somebody that represents the government of Malaysia.
“That is why since the beginning of UIA’s formation you saw Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was the president then, before Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who was the education minister then. So the tradition is not new - because of the different structure of IIUM itself,” he added.
Maszlee further pointed out that when the education minister was appointed as the president (of IIUM), the minister would have to work for free with no fixed salary, allowance or certain facilities, whereas if anybody else was appointed to the position it would involve nearly half a million ringgit in terms of the salary or allowance.
“When I was appointed (President of IIUM) by the Sultan of Pahang, under the law I became its president. So now I am in a dilemma; if I do not accept… I will have to face the sultan, tell him I have to disobey him.
“Secondly, they (the sultan and prime minister) will have to appoint someone else, who will have to be paid with taxpayers' money. So, should I prioritise taxpayer’s money... or pressure (on him not to accept the post), in this case, I give priority to the people,” he said.
“I need to consult with a few of my superiors, like the one who appointed me – the Sultan of Pahang, and also the prime minister, because it is not within my power to determine anything. I need to ask for their advice,” he said.
Meanwhile, on his meeting with the chief minister, Maszlee said that he had stated the government’s commitment to assist education in Sarawak from two aspects, infrastructure and quality.