PETALING JAYA: The Prime Minister’s extra role as the acting Education Minister was greeted with mixed feeling, with many hoping that he would be able to resolve the issues plaguing the ministry.
Some believe that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s experience could come in handy as he had previously held the Education Ministry portfolio from 1974 to 1977.
Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof said it was the right move for Dr Mahathir to serve as the acting Education Minister, given his past experience with the portfolio.
“It is the right move for the time being because he understands education policies and he understands how to put things right because of his past experience.
“He had been the Education Minister before and I don’t think anyone else served as long as he had been, ” he said when contacted.
Mohd Redzuan also believes that the Education Minister’s post should be reserved for Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia leaders only.
“We have a number of talents that can helm the ministry. I feel that (these leaders) have some experience or past experience to continue or to improve the existing policies in order to make it more inclusive, ” he said.
However, Redzuan declined to comment on whether a new Education Minister will be appointed following Bersatu’s party polls in April, saying that such a decision lies on the prerogative of the prime minister.
“As it is now, the decision by the Cabinet is that he should act as the Education Minister. Perhaps Dr Mahathir would like to ensure things are put in the correct perspective.
“Therefore, it should be handed over to someone who he has the confidence to manage or administer the ministry, ” he said.
PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said Dr Mahathir was the right man for the job as there were many unresolved issues surrounding the ministry.
“I believe the Prime Minister will be able to calm the situation, create stability and return to the basics in education, so his power as the premier is needed.
“I don’t believe he will hold on to the post for a long time.
“If he hands it over to the current deputy (education minister), there would be more problems, ” said Tuan Ibrahim.
Former education minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said Dr Mahathir had been eyeing the position even before he made the announcement of the Cabinet line-up, following the formation of the Pakatan Harapan government.
“But due to their manifesto which does not allow the Prime Minister to hold two portfolios, he had to give it up. However, as Prime Minister, I believe he is not necessarily bound by the manifesto as it is his prerogative.
“I think Dr Mahathir will bring his own changes. I think he has his own mission and I think we can see positive developments, ” said Mahdzir, who is also an Umno vice-president.
However, Klang DAP lawmaker Charles Santiago believes the Education Ministry portfolio requires full-time focus.
“How is he going to balance two jobs that require 100% attention?
“Education has evolved in a big way since Dr Mahathir was Education Minister so one would think that someone younger who is familiar with current trends and innovation can take up the job.
“It cannot be more of the same. Society and demands in education have fundamentally changed, ” he said.
He has no qualms if someone outside the political sphere is appointed to the post.
He added that the country needs a dynamic and secular-minded person as the Education Minister.