Academic-turned-politician Dr Maszlee Malik claimed that it was Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who pushed for his resignation as education minister to then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Maszlee made the revelation in his newly launched book Memori Bukan Memoir, saying that Mahathir called him up five times over the matter, reported Free Malaysia Today.
In two of those meetings, the Simpang Renggam member of Parliament (MP) said top leadership in the Ministry of Education (MOE) joined him to explain their decision to discontinue a contract between the ministry and YTL Communications Sdn Bhd — the company behind the brand YES.
YTL Communications is the service provider for the 1BestariNet project — an initiative to provide Internet access and a virtual learning environment (VLE) to schools nationwide.
The 15-year project worth RM4.47 billion was initiated in 2011 by Muhyiddin, who served as the education minister at the time.
According to Maszlee, Mahathir told him that Muhyiddin was "very angry" with him because he decided not to extend YTL Communications' contract with MOE
"I am often asked whether Dr Mahathir's request for me to return my position was due to the 1BestariNet issue, or more specifically the YTL's controversial contract with the Ministry of Education," The Malaysian Insight reported him as saying.
"I can say that this is not the only reason, but it was one of the reasons that the prime minister asked me to do so, and according to him, it was at the request of Muhyiddin."
"In my last meeting with Mahathir, I can still remember, he said, 'The Bersatu president (Muhyiddin) is very angry with you because of this issue'."
"[And] not too long after that, I received an email from him to return the post which was given to me on June 2018," said the now independent MP.
At the time, all three were Bersatu members.
Maszlee said he was told during the meetings how hard Muhyiddin had worked on the "mega project" and that he should extend the contract based on YTL Communications' wishes, rather than deciding on his own
However, in the book, he said that the decision was made after conducting several in-depth studies by independent and professional bodies with the authorities. The Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee were also involved in the studies.
He added that the project introduced by the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration was controversial and often criticised by teachers for its lousy Internet service that only burdened them.
"As one who bore responsibility based on the oath I took before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong when I was sworn in as a Cabinet member, I was determined to place the people and nation's interests over any other parties or individuals," he said.
Following Maszlee's revelation, politicians from both sides of the divide said the issue must be probed
Selangor BN information chief Isham Jalil said the government should form a task force or royal commission of inquiry to investigate the contentious 1BestariNet project, reported The Vibes.
He questioned where did the RM3 billion allocated for the project go to.
Meanwhile, Klang MP Charles Santiago wants the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to step in and investigate Muhyiddin's alleged links to YTL Communications, reported Free Malaysia Today.
The DAP MP said Muhyiddin, who was acting as the home minister under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, should not have intervened and represented businesses, or push for a Cabinet colleague's resignation.
He also questioned why Mahathir had to allegedly listen to Muhyiddin, saying, "Tun [was] the prime minister, he could have said that he trusted his minister. He should have referred this to the MACC to be investigated."