Maszlee Malik claims that Muhyiddin Yassin pushed then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for his resignation as education minister over a contract issue involving YTL Communications Sdn Bhd.
In his newly released book titled “Memori Bukan Memoir”, Maszlee said he was called five times to meet Mahathir over the matter.
In two of those meetings, the top leadership of the education ministry joined him to explain the decision not to extend YTL’s contract as a service provider for the 1BestariNet project, which Muhyiddin initiated in 2011 when he was education minister.
“I’m often asked whether the seventh prime minister’s (Mahathir) request for me to return my position to him was due to the 1BestariNet issue, or more specifically, YTL’s controversial contract with the education ministry.
“I cannot say that this is the only reason, but I can say that it was one of the reasons that the prime minister asked me to do so, and according to him, following the request of the Bersatu president (Muhyiddin).
“In my last meeting with Mahathir, I can still remember, he said, ‘The Bersatu president is very angry with you because of this issue’.
“Not long after that, I received an email from him requesting me to return the position which was entrusted to me in June 2018 back to him,” said the Simpang Renggam MP.
Pressure to extend ‘based on YTL’s wishes’
Maszlee added that he was told at each meeting how Muhyiddin had worked on the “mega contract” and urged Mahathir to ask him to extend the contract based on YTL’s wishes, rather than deciding on his own.
“As one who bore responsibility based on the oath I took before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong when I was sworn in as a Cabinet member, I was determined to place the people and nation’s interests over any other parties or individuals.”
Maszlee was appointed to the post in place of Mahathir after the then prime minister garnered criticism for naming himself to the education portfolio following Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the 2018 general election.
On Jan 2, 2020, Maszlee announced his resignation, saying he was returning his post back to Mahathir, while pledging loyalty to the then Bersatu chairman.
RM3 billion 1BestariNet contracts
Phase 1 of the 1BestariNet mega project – to provide internet connectivity and a single learning platform for teachers, students and parents – began in December 2011 and went on until June 2014 in a RM1.1 billion contract, while “interim Phase 1” proceeded for two years from June 2014 in a RM468 million contract.
It then continued to Phase 2 in a RM1.55 billion contract, from July 2016 to June 2019.
Maszlee said the project launched by the Barisan Nasional government was controversial and had been often criticised by teachers who complained of lousy internet service that only burdened them.
Contract not extended
He also said the decision not to extend YTL’s contract was based on several in-depth studies conducted by independent and professional bodies with authority on the matter, including the Auditor-General and the Public Accounts Committee.
The decision was made based on how the project did not achieve Putrajaya’s objectives and key performance index. Issues had also risen over the lease of land for 1BestariNet’s integrated system structures.
Maszlee maintained that the ministry’s decision was a professional one based on facts and legislation, adding that he was confident about sticking to his principles despite the costly price he had to pay.
“It was a small test of my sacrifice since the very first day that I decided to get involved in politics.
“Was this decision the cause for me being asked to relinquish my position in the education ministry? Only God knows the truth.”
Source : FMT