PUTRAJAYA, Jan 3 — Former Umno minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed is said to be Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s favourite among possible candidates to fill the now vacant education minister post, sources have told Malay Mail.
The sources who wished to stay anonymous said the Jeli MP, last serving as minister of international trade and industry, is thought to be “the right person” to implement changes in the portfolio as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Cabinet face brickbats from voters over various reasons.
“Mustapa has experience as minister of higher education from 2006 to 2008. [Dr Mahathir] could use his expertise to help implement changes, and he was liked by many people even when he was a BN minister,” one source told Malay Mail.
“Ultimately the decision is in the hands of the Prime Minister Tun M,” the source added, referring to Dr Mahathir.
Another source from the party said Mustapa, also known as Tok Pa, was even mentioned when Dr Mahathir first mentioned in November last year about a possible Cabinet reshuffle later this year.
“Tok Pa was suggested to take responsibility on education together with Maszlee. There were plans to divide the education ministry to two ministries — education and higher education like before,” said the source.
Joining the party in October 2018, Mustapa now chairs the seven-member Special Parliamentary Committee on the Budget. He was first rumoured to join the Cabinet in August last year.
The same source said it may also be possible that Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Marzuki Yahaya, who is currently deputy foreign minister, may instead be promoted as Maszlee’s replacement.
“It was brought in the meeting, but there is yet to be a decision by the top leadership,” the source said.
Last year, Marzuki was embroiled in a “degree mill” scandal, admitting that he did not attend University of Cambridge as previously claimed, but instead from one United States-based Cambridge International University — an institution whose reputation has been questioned.
Yesterday, Maszlee confirmed that he would be resigning as the education minister effective today, making him the first from Dr Mahathir’s Cabinet to go since the 14th general election.
During a special press conference, Maszlee said he made the decision on the advice of the prime minister after meeting him earlier yesterday.
However, he did not disclose the reason behind his resignation, amid a source’s claim that he had received a letter from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia “advising” him to vacate the post.
Malay Mail has contacted Mustapa and Marzuki for their comments.
Following Maszlee’s announcement, Dr Mahathir said he has yet to decide on a replacement for the post and will announce his decision soon.
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