What salafi movement? UKM says two top leaders appointed under BN, not Maszlee

Zurairi Ar
Maszlee did not deny links with Ikram but dismissed claims he was carrying out the group’s agenda. — File picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) has denied today that three of its top leaders were appointed by Maszlee Malik for being members of Muslim group Ikram.

The university said two of them were even initially appointed under the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, following an accusation by foreign media Asia Sentinel of an alleged “Salafist” infiltration of top academic posts in the country.

“Prof Datuk Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor who is an academic in engineering field was appointed as the vice-chancellor of UKM based on his credibility and extensive experience in leadership and administration,” it said in a statement.

UKM said this included Mohd Hamdi’s appointment as University of Malaya’s deputy vice-chancellor for academic and international affairs from 2011 to 2014.

It also denied the same accusation in the appointments of deputy vice-chancellor for industry and community partnership Prof Datuk Imran Ho Abdullah and the former deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation affairs Prof Datuk Mohd Ekhwan Toriman

It said Imran’s first appointment in 2014 was made by then deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd, and for the second time in 2017 by then higher education minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, before Maszlee made the same decision in 2019.

Similarly, Mohd Ekhwan was first appointed by Idris in 2017.

“Therefore, UKM denies the statement issued by a news portal stating that all three UKM academics were appointed based on their activities in the Ikram organisation but the appointments were made based on their credibility in their respective academics’ fields, leadership and administrative,” it said.

Yesterday Asia Sentinel alleged that Maszlee appointed at least 26 university officials with Islamist leanings and who were aligned with him and Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin prior to his resignation as education minister.

Maszlee did not deny links with Ikram but dismissed claims he was carrying out the group’s agenda. The former education minister also insisted that he is committed to diversity amid allegations of proselytisation.

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