After announcing that he quit Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's party earlier this month, Dr Maszlee Malik revealed yesterday, 11 November, that he is going back to his roots to become an activist and academician
Speaking during a press conference, Dr Maszlee said he believes changes in the educational system do not necessarily have to come from a position of power.
Citing unfinished work as the former education minister and seeing millions of students who have yet to receive an educational infrastructure they deserve, he announced his latest effort aiming to resolve issues related to education — a movement called 'Untuk Malaysia'.
He said the movement transcends ideology, politics, race, and social-economic classes, with extra attention given to students from the B40 low-income group.
Untuk Malaysia comes equipped with a website that serves as a platform for people to seek assistance, initiate crowdfunding efforts, or debate education issues, among others, reported The Star.
"In my experience with the Ministry of Education, there are just too many issues that need resolving," said the first-time Simpang Renggam Member of Parliament
"Some are related to infrastructure. For example, classrooms, teacher's rooms, or toilets at schools that need to be repaired. Or teachers that need teaching aids and other necessities."
"There are many people out there who want to offer help, but they either lack the knowledge to do so, or are restricted by bureaucracy."
"In the end, the assistance does not truly end up in the hands of those who really need them. So this is where Untuk Malaysia comes in," Dr Maszlee explained as the reason he started the movement.
He then highlighted the daunting reality of what Malaysian students are going through during the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that 40% of students do not have gadgets or Internet access to continue learning after the implementation of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in many states, reported Malay Mail.
In a video made for the launch of the movement, Dr Maszlee, who once shed tears onstage while talking about special education, also revealed that there are 440,000 persons with disabilities (OKU) who do not know their future in education.
"Unfortunately, half of these children do not register themselves to school. A majority of them fall under the absolute poverty line."
He admitted the period he served as the education minister was short and that he has many regrets for not being able to execute many reforms he planned for the Malaysian education system
"But I look further beyond power and position," said the 45-year-old.
I believe changes do not rely on power alone, but also determination, opportunities, and continuous efforts.
"Maybe our mistake all this while is our habit to rely on others to make changes for us. When we perhaps should have initiated those changes," he said.
"And I am convinced, if given the chance, everybody can make a difference. Today, I would like to call upon all Malaysians to be with me in the movement Untuk Malaysia [and] make a better future for our country."
Within 24 hours, Dr Maszlee said Untuk Malaysia has gathered more than 2,000 volunteers for the movement.
He thanked the volunteers for the support and anticipated the changes that the movement can bring.
Meanwhile, sources at the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) said that they are trying to make Dr Maszlee join their party:
Dr Maszlee stepped down as the Education Minister on 2 January, more than a month before the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government: