PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has been appointed interim Education Minister, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement on Friday (Jan 10).

His appointment, which took effect on Jan 3, will remain in place until the next education minister is appointed, the statement said.

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The decision was made during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

READ: Malaysia's Education Minister Maszlee Malik resigns

Former education minister Maszlee Malik resigned on Jan 3 after 20 months.

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Dr Maszlee, who is from Dr Mahathirs Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, has attracted several controversies since Pakatan Harapan took over federal administration in the May 2018 general election, overshadowing the educational reforms he introduced.

He has been criticised for getting distracted by issues and failing to improve educational standards, and there have been online petitions calling for his removal.

In September 2018, Dr Maszlee accepted the appointment as the International Islamic University Malaysia president despite PHs pledge to restore academic freedom in universities.

He stepped down in November following strong objections from student groups and politicians.

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