KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — The National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) is irresponsible for selectively freezing financial aid to Universiti Selangor (Unisel) students without good reason, the Pan-Malaysian Coalition of Islamic Undergraduates (Gamis) said today.
The student group said PTPTN should be capable of providing loans to all institutions of higher learning “without any exception”, adding that only RM27.5 billion had been lent to borrowers out of a total of RM43 billion approved by the government.
“This act clearly shows the irresponsible attitude of the Malaysian government and contradicts the (government’s) motto of ‘People first, Performance now’,” said Gamis, adding that it was an “unprofessional act” that “victimised” undergraduates.
Gamis said PTPTN should release an official statement explaining the reasons for the freeze.
The student group demanded that PTPTN immediately lift the freeze and reopen applications for fresh loans from Unisel students.
“Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (deputy prime minister), Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin (higher education minister) and Datuk Ismail Mohamed Said (PTPTN chairman), as the parties responsible for this issue, should apologise to Unisel undergraduates and the Selangor state government,” Gamis treasurer Ahmad Mustafa Abd Azais said in a statement.
News portal Malaysiakini reported on Tuesday that PTPTN had halted loans to students applying for places in Unisel for unknown reasons.
According to The Star yesterday, Khaled said it was a temporary move that was made following “political pressure” from the opposition over free education.
“PTPTN wants to determine how serious the opposition is in wanting to provide free education. If it is serious, then students in state-owned private institutes of higher learning like Unisel need not apply for study loans from PTPTN because education will be provided free to them,” he was quoted as saying.
Khaled had also referred to the matter on his Twitter account on Tuesday night, suggesting that Unisel scrap its student fees to “fulfil” Pakatan Rakyat and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s promise to offer free education for all and to abolish PTPTN should it come to power.
In response, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli flayed the minister for punishing the students to take “revenge” against PR over the ongoing PTPTN debacle.
Muhyiddin yesterday weighed in to say it was “fair” of the PTPTN to freeze loans to Unisel applicants to “test” if PR could provide free education as claimed.
“If the (Selangor) MB says there’s no need for students to take the loans, then PTPTN need not give out the loans,” Malaysiakini previously quoted Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, as saying.
PR and Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have been at loggerheads over the federal student loan scheme PTPTN, which the opposition claims should be abolished before the country is saddled with a massive education loan debt in the future.