Malaysia walks back plan for students to switch to black shoes, saying colour isn't a priority

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has temporarily taken over the Education Ministry portfolio, said students "can wear brown shoes, black shoes, grey shoes, white shoes - any shoes will do".
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has temporarily taken over the Education Ministry portfolio, said students "can wear brown shoes, black shoes, grey shoes, white shoes - any shoes will do".PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has temporarily taken over the Education Ministry portfolio, says he is not bothered about the colour of shoes worn to school.

The previous education minister, Dr Maszlee Malik, who stepped down Jan 2, had controversially declared soon after he took over the post that he wanted students to switch to black shoes from white shoes, which he said were tougher to clean.

Critics had jumped on the directive to say that shoe colour should not be a priority for the ministry at a time of falling education standards.

Dr Maszlee had also proposed other controversial policies such as free breakfast for all primary school students, which Tun Dr Mahathir has tweaked to offering the free morning meal only for poor students.

Dr Mahathir said on Friday (Jan 17) that he attended a briefing by top education ministry officials on Thursday, but that the meeting had left him "a little confused".

"I had a long briefing. I am still digesting the items that they had briefed me on and I am still a little bit confused because of so many facts given. I am studying them.

"One thing I have decided is that you can wear brown shoes, black shoes, grey shoes, white shoes - any shoes will do," he said.

The ministry announced on Friday a new director-general in Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim, the second woman to hold the top non-political post in this key ministry.

She replaces Datuk Amin Senin, who retired on Dec 21.