MASZLEE Malik’s refusal to relinquish his presidency of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) is not surprising and is a result of the education minister’s sudden rise to power, said student activists.
In September, Maszlee was appointed as the seventh IIUM president, which student activists criticised as the government breaking its promise not to interfere in the running of universities.
The founder of Universiti Malaya Democrats, Daniel Mizan Qayyum, said those following the case closely were not surprised that Maszlee has refused to step down despite rumours that several quarters within his Pakatan Harapan pactwere pressuring him to do so.
“It (refusal to resign) is not surprising. It is Maszlee that is surprised by the culture shock of political power,” said Daniel.
Another student activist, Asheeq Ali Sethi, said Maszlee’s “personal relationship” with the university was the reason he refuses to step down despite protests from many quarters.
“It makes me question, why is he adamant about holding on to the position?” said Asheeq.
Maszlee, a former lecturer at IIUM, earlier defended his decision to hold on to the presidency as he wanted to elevate IIUM to be the “Oxford of the Islamic world”.
However, Asheeq said Maszlee has yet to make any change to the university since taking over as president in September.
Asheeq, 23, and his fellow activists, Siti Nurizzah Mohamad Tazali, 23, were arrested when they organised a peaceful sit-in protest held at the entrance of the Education Ministry in Putrajaya after Maszlee’s appointment.
Another student activist group which had strongly criticised Maszlee’s appointment, Gabungan Pembebasan Akademik IPTA (GPAIPT), said it will be launching a nationwide roadshow to convey to students the importance of academic freedom.
GPAIPT president Ahmad Taqiyuddin Shahriman, 25, said the “session of enlightenment on the mission of achieving academic freedom” would kick off soon.
A PH source had told The Malaysian Insight that Maszlee had already been advised to relinquish the position but remains “stubborn”
“He does not want to resign from the position, because he believes he can help them (IIUM),” said the source.
“We are still monitoring the situation and have not officially directed him to resign. We want him to make the decision on his own.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT