The education ministry has launched an investigation into the CEO of one of its subsidiary companies over his open political activities, which could be a breach of a rule barring senior government officers from getting involved in party politics, MalaysiaNow has learnt.
The ministry had earlier come under intense criticism on social media over the political activities of Saufy Nizar Abdul Rahman, known as Mutalib Uthman, who heads Perbadanan Kota Buku, a government-linked company tasked with promoting the local book industry.
Saufy entered the spotlight after he was pictured with a group of politicians meeting former prime minister Najib Razak.
Critics have asked if the ministry was aware of his involvement in Ikatan Demokratik Malaysia (Muda), a political party led by former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
A spokesman told MalaysiaNow that the online postings triggered a probe by ministry officials.
“We are investigating based on the postings against Saufy,” he said, but quickly added that the ministry was not curtailing the freedom to choose one’s political leanings.
Saufy was seen together with Syed Saddiq and other Muda leaders during their meeting with Najib Razak, in pictures shared on Instagram by the former prime minister’s son.
Muda was formed following Syed Saddiq’s sacking from Bersatu, where he was the youth chief.
The party, which seeks to provide a platform for the voice of the youth, is still awaiting approval from the Registrar of Societies.
Saufy had managed his own publishing house before being appointed to head Kota Buku on Jan 7 this year, less than a week after Maszlee Maslik resigned as education minister.
He was also a close friend of Maszlee’s press secretary, Zul Fikri Zamir, who was likewise a publisher before being recruited to serve the former minister.
A source from the education ministry said Saufy was bound by a circular from the Public Service Department prohibiting senior management officers from being politically active.
The circular issued in 2009 also bars senior government appointees from issuing political statements or being seen wearing political party symbols.
“There’s nothing wrong with having your own political view as long as it does not disrupt the execution of duties or the implementation of the ministry’s policies,” the spokesman told MalaysiaNow.
“But it should not amount to a breach of the circular.”
MalaysiaNow has reached out to Saufy for a response.