The Education Portfolio & Its Landmines

In the wake of Dr Maszlee Malik’s resignation as Minister of Education,[1] various names have been proposed as his replacement. Possible candidates touted include[2]:

i) Saifuddin Abdullah, the current Foreign Minister;

ii) Mustapa Mohamed, the former International Trade and Industry Minister;

iii) Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a notable economist;

iv) Mohd Sham Mohd Sani, former Vice Chancellor of the National University of Malaysia;

v) Nurul Izzah Anwar, Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh.

It cannot be denied that Dr Maszlee brought about some notable reforms during his 20 month tenure.[3] However, it was also marred with controversy. During his press conference on 2nd January 2020, Dr Maszlee was quoted as having said:

“I have been seen to be the cause of many crises, including the Jawi calligraphy issue, Internet at schools and the free breakfast programme.”[4]

It is undeniable that the Education portfolio is rife with Catch-22s, resulting in this particular ministerial position being a less than desirable one.