PM to take on Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter’s post

The Star Malaysia - - Nation -

PETAL­ING JAYA: Prime Min­is­ter Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad will take on a sec­ond Cab­i­net port­fo­lio as Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter.

Mean­while, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Wan Az­izah Wan Is­mail will serve as Women’s Af­fairs and Wel­fare Min­is­ter.

“I took over the ed­u­ca­tion port­fo­lio be­cause I think so many peo­ple are un­e­d­u­cated in this coun­try,” he said, tongue-in-cheek, at a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day af­ter a Pakatan Hara­pan pres­i­den­tial coun­cil meet­ing.

“I thought I would give my at­ten­tion to that.”

He said Malaysia’s way of teach­ing is “out­dated” and hoped more Malaysians will be com­puter-savvy.

“We should de­vise new ways of teach­ing,” said Dr Ma­hathir, adding that he will in­tro­duce an on­line sys­tem to teach stu­dents in schools.

He added that there will only be one min­istry in charge of all mat­ters re­gard­ing ed­u­ca­tion, un­like the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion which had a Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry on top of the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry.

Dr Ma­hathir’s min­is­te­rial post was seen by some as con­trary to a prom­ise in Pakatan Hara­pan’s man­i­festo that says the Prime Min­is­ter should not hold any other po­si­tions, es­pe­cially Fi­nance Min­is­ter.

To a ques­tion about the Sabah chief min­is­ter hold­ing the state’s fi­nance port­fo­lio, Dr Ma­hathir sim­ply said: “The Sabah chief min­is­ter is not the Prime Min­is­ter.”

When asked what role newly-re­leased Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would hold in the Pakatan gov­ern­ment, Dr Ma­hathir said Anwar would be in the “top six” in the pres­i­den­tial coun­cil.

It was ex­plained that the coun­cil will con­sist of six top lead­ers.

“The top six meet when there are prob­lems or im­por­tant de­ci­sions to make,” said Dr Ma­hathir, adding the coun­cil will meet every month.

On Anwar’s ab­sence from the event, Dr Wan Az­izah said: “He will join in the next meet­ing.”

Anwar had ear­lier said he will not make an im­me­di­ate re­turn to pol­i­tics, and plans to give a series of talks over­seas.

Asked why there was a de­lay in nam­ing the Cab­i­net, Dr Ma­hathir said there were four par­ties in the coali­tion, each with their de­mands and he had to en­sure each can­di­date is suit­able.

“We will an­nounce it to­mor­row (Fri­day) if I can do things in time. If not, I have to de­lay it,” he said.

Dr Ma­hathir had an­nounced three min­is­te­rial po­si­tions filled by Pakatan’s top lead­er­ship.

Parti Pribumi Ber­satu Malaysia pres­i­dent Tan Sri Muhyid­din Yassin will be Home Min­is­ter, while DAP sec­re­tary-gen­eral Lim Guan Eng will helm the Fi­nance Min­istry and Parti Amanah Ne­gara pres­i­dent Mo­hamad Sabu is De­fence Min­is­ter.

Dr Ma­hathir said he aims to get all the min­is­ters sworn in by Mon­day.

He also an­nounced the set­ting up of a spe­cial task force to safe­guard the in­ter­ests of the In­dian com­mu­nity, women, youth and orang asli.

Its aim is to give at­ten­tion to mi­nor­ity groups, with the In­dian com­mu­nity be­ing the pri­or­ity.

Dr Ma­hathir also said Op­po­si­tion lead­ers who were in the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment can­not be ac­cepted by any Pakatan Hara­pan par­ties.

He said par­ties like Umno are fac­ing “mi­gra­tion prob­lems” with many mem­bers leav­ing.

“We have also set a prin­ci­ple that will be en­forced now, that any mem­bers of the Op­po­si­tion have to be­come In­de­pen­dents first and then de­clare their sup­port for the Pakatan gov­ern­ment.

“Those for­merly part of the gov­ern­ment can­not join Pakatan or its par­ties. This is our de­ci­sion as of now but we might re­vise it in the fu­ture,” he said.

On 1Malaysia Peo­ple’s Aid (BR1M) hand­outs, Dr Ma­hathir main­tained that the Gov­ern­ment will con­tinue with the fi­nan­cial aid but will take an­other look at who gets it.

“BR1M is not to be seen as ra­suah (bribery) or cor­rupt­ing the peo­ple into sup­port­ing the Gov­ern­ment.

“It should be re­garded as a way of mit­i­gat­ing so­cial prob­lems,” he said.

Light mo­ment: Dr Ma­hathir chat­ting with other se­nior Pakatan Hara­pan mem­bers be­fore a press con­fer­ence in Petal­ing Jaya.

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