Maszlee resignation not end of Pakatan woes, analysts say

Lee Chi Leong

An expert says Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad (left) has to be very careful about who he chooses to replace Maszlee Malik to take over the sensitive and complex education portfolio. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, January 4, 2020.

THE low public confidence in Pakatan Harapan is not just due to education issues, and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad will have to do more than find a replacement for Maszlee Malik, analysts said.

Universiti Malaya’s Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said bold steps are required, such as a full cabinet shake-up or even the transitioning of power from Dr Mahathir to his successor.

“The prime minister must make a courageous decision to replace any cabinet member who is not performing. Not just from Bersatu, but from any other party if they are underperforming,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

Former academic Maszlee, who is a Bersatu member and Simpang Renggam MP, resigned effective yesterday after 20 months as education minister. Although hailed as a minister who brought equal access to education for poor, marginalised and special needs students, his missteps and poor communication have overshadowed these achievements.

Maszlee was ranked among the worst-performing ministers in various opinion polls conducted over the 20 months PH has been in power. 

‘Sacrificial lamb’

After PH’s massive defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election in mid-November, there were renewed calls for a cabinet reshuffle.

“If it is only Maszlee who is removed and not other non-reformers, Maszlee will just be seen as the sacrificial lamb to make appeasement,” Awang Azman said.

“But we know that there are more issues involving other ministries; issues involving national unity, the environment, Felda and housing.”

The Malay studies associate professor said he believes voters could well be looking forward to Dr Mahathir stepping down.

“I don’t think the people want just a cabinet reshuffle; they are also impatient for Dr Mahathir to hand over power as PH needs a new momentum. It also needs widespread damage control.”

It is agreed among PH components that Anwar Ibrahim is to take over from Dr Mahathir before the end of the election term. A definite date has not been fixed, however, leading to much uncertainty and in-house rumblings, especially from the PKR president’s supporters.

Dr Mahathir, however, has indicated that the power transition will take place after Malaysia hosts the 2020 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit at the end of the year. 

No more experiments

Analyst Dr Mazlan Ali said he is expecting a “small but significant” cabinet reshuffle.

“Maszlee’s resignation shows that Dr Mahathir is taking a very serious view of things, especially after so many controversies, both before and after the Tg Piai by-election. There are also a number of issues that have affected PH, such as the Jawi issue and other matters involving the Education Ministry.”

The political science and public policy lecturer at Universiti Technologi Malaysia said Dr Mahathir must be very careful about who he chooses to replace Maszlee to take over the sensitive and complex portfolio.

“Dr Mahathir cannot afford to experiment any more. He must put someone of high standing as a replacement.”

Mazlan agreed that the prime minister has to do more to his cabinet, as Maszlee’s resignation is merely a “compromise” in response to voter unhappiness.

“I think Dr Mahathir is trying to correct some things with the resignation, perhaps to cool down a heated situation.”

PH lost Tg Piai in a stunning defeat as the Chinese voters who had backed it in the 2018 general election swung towards the opposition. Barisan Nasional, meanwhile, increased its share of Malay votes thanks to PAS, who sat out the polls and urged its supporters to vote for BN. – January 4, 2020.

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  • Do appoint Rafidah Aziz as the Education Minister!

    Posted 4 years ago by Jordan Lee · Reply