PETALING JAYA – More than a decade after it was set up in honour of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the future of an institute under Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) in Sintok, Kedah now hangs in the balance, FMT has learnt.
This comes amid speculation of pressure for Institut Pemikiran Tun Dr Mahathir (IPDM) to be shut down.
IPDM was announced in 2003 by then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as a tribute to Mahathir who retired after 22 years leading the government.
Since then, it has published several papers on the life and works of Mahathir, who as the chairman of the four-party opposition front Pakatan Harapan, has been at the forefront of opposition against Prime Minister Najib Razak.
But checks with staff members failed to clear the air over the rumour.
A source close to the university however admitted there was such pressure from local Umno leaders, but declined to give further details.
Umno will convene its general assembly next week, and if past practice is any indication, delegates from Kedah unhappy with IPDM will likely use it as a platform to bring up the issue.
FMT was made to understand that a campaign to save IPDM has been slowly gaining ground among students and staff at UUM, whose administration is seen close to Umno leaders and who keeps a tight lid on anti-establishment views.
A recent post on Twitter of UUM students taking part in a slide show presentation in tribute to Dr Mahathir got a response from the former leader.
“My contribution is small when compared to Malaysians who work day and night to support their families, families who in turn serve the nation,” said Mahathir.
Mahathir fell out with Najib in 2015 over the 1MDB controversy, and soon reestablished ties with his one time protege-turned-rival, Anwar Ibrahim.
Both men have since announced the formation of Pakatan Harapan, a four-party coalition which includes Mahathir’s party PPBM, with the aim of contesting the next general election under a single banner.
A source who spoke to FMT said the pressure to close down IPDM was only due to its name.
The university also has a gallery named after Mahathir, but it has been inactive for some months.
“There are no materials inside the gallery. It is empty when I went there to check it myself,” the source added.
Meanwhile, Kedah Umno Youth chief Shaiful Hazizy Zainol Abidin said he did not know of any campaign by party leaders to close down IPDM.
“I don’t have any information about this. This is definitely not from Kedah Umno Youth,” he said.