Maszlee demands apology, compensation from Umno’s Asyraf Wajdi over communism claim

Ida Lim
·4-min read
Maszlee Malik speaks to reporters at a press conference in Cyberjaya November 11, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Maszlee Malik speaks to reporters at a press conference in Cyberjaya November 11, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Former education minister Maszlee Malik today said a legal letter has been sent to Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki to demand for an apology, compensation and the immediate removal of an alleged defamatory Facebook post over a history textbook.

In an announcement made over social media platforms Twitter and Facebook, Maszlee said his lawyer has issued a letter of demand to Asyraf Wajdi over the latter’s February 24 comments on Facebook.

Maszlee showed a portion of the letter, which was dated today and addressed to Asyraf Wajdi, with the letter titled “Demand regarding defamatory statement addressed to Yang Berhormat Dr Maszlee Malik through the Facebook page ‘Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki’ on 24 February 2021”.

Maszlee said that he is demanding that Asyraf Wajdi immediately delete the February 24 Facebook post, and ensure that any Facebook pages or other social media that featured the posting be also removed.

Maszlee said he has also demanded that Asyraf Wajdi publish a written apology that has been agreed by both of them on Asyraf Wajdi’s Facebook page and in local newspapers, while also seeking for the payment of compensation — with an amount to be agreed by Maszlee — as that “posting clearly defamed me”.

Maszlee said that his lawyer will take further legal action if a response is not forthcoming within the period stated.

Maszlee said he had initiated the legal process to avoid a repeat of the “culture of malicious defamation” with racial undertones, adding that he believes that Malaysians are sick of such a culture.

“Only those who are cowards will frequently use the weapon of defamation and cheap propaganda to garner political support.

He instead advocates for a “mature and fact-based” approach to politics, and urged for the courage to have open discussions .

Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki arrives at Menara Dato’ Onn the BN Supreme council meeting December 8, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki arrives at Menara Dato’ Onn the BN Supreme council meeting December 8, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

In a brief remark on Twitter, Asyraf Wajdi said he had at the time of writing yet to receive the letter of demand from Maszlee, but said his team of lawyers will go through the content of the letter and recommend subsequent actions based on law.

“Want to use the law, we find the truth through it. Other matters are no longer relevant! #bukutekssejarah” he exclaimed in the same tweet.

Separately on Facebook over the same legal letter which he said he had yet to receive, Asyraf Wajdi said Umno Youth will continue to defend the struggle started by 73 non-governmental organisations under the Pembela coalition of Islamist groups and a secretariat for NGOs that rejected the Form Four History textbook.

He added that Umno Youth is urging for the Education Ministry to retract and amend the Form Four History textbook published under the Secondary School Standard Curriculum (KSSM) scheme.

On February 24, Asyraf Wajdi had on Facebook claimed that the current Form Four History syllabus was revised as an alleged deliberate attempt by the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government during its brief 22-month rule from May 2018 to February 2020 to purportedly condition students into thinking that socialism and communism is not bad.

Among other things, Asyraf Wajdi said Umno Youth wants the MoE to immediately withdraw the Form 4 History textbook and restore the facts that were allegedly manipulated.

In response to Asyraf Wajdi’s statement, Maszlee who had held the position of education minister during most of PH’s rule said the Form Four History textbook was based on a process that had started and taken place when Barisan Nasional (BN) was government and the education minister was from Umno.

In a lengthy statement, Maszlee explained that the new History textbooks under the KSSM replaced the old Secondary School Integrated Curriculum (KBSM) in 2017 after the MoE revamped the subject in 2014, with textbooks printed in 2019 and used in 2020 being based on a process that started from 2014/2015.

On February 25, the Education Ministry said the current KSSM edition of the Form Four History textbook is based on content checked by a multiracial panel of history experts in April 2018, with the facts even sent to government bodies such as the National Archives and National Museum for determination.

The ministry said the textbook’s author had fulfilled the required criteria such as experience in writing history textbooks, and that the textbook had undergone strict quality controls during the publication process and underwent all necessary processes to ensure “accuracy of facts”.

Following the Education Ministry’s statement on the matter, Maszlee had on February 26 said he received his lawyer’s advice and instructed his lawyer to send a letter of demand to Asyraf Wajdi to demand for apology and compensation over the alleged defamation.

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