BANGKOK, Oct 25 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has today appealed to Malaysian students to repay their study loans, to allow future generations the same opportunity they had.
Appealing to the borrowers’ moral conscience, the prime minister said paying back debts is the right principle to hold.
“When you borrow money, and when you have the money to repay and you don’t repay, that’s morally wrong,” he told a press conference here.
“So we are appealing to them. We can’t take them to court, so we are appealing to them because many other people are hoping to get scholarships, but if they don’t pay back, we will deny scholarships to other people.”
“They have enjoyed good education, to give them better earning capabilities, but they must also be concerned about other people getting the same aid, so that they too can enjoy the kind of lives previous graduates are enjoying,” Dr Mahathir added.
During his lunch dialogue with the Malaysian diaspora, an attendee had questioned Dr Mahathir on the availability of government scholarships, adding that he had to resort to foreign aid to further his postgraduate studies.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) in its election manifesto to exempt the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) borrowers earning less than RM4,000, from repaying their study loans.
However, until today, it is not confirmed if this would be formalised.
The pledge also became doubtful after the PH administration revealed the country’s total liabilities to be in excess of RM1 trillion, prompting the government to take austerity measures.
“At the time when we did that, we didn’t know how much, so we thought it was easy, but its not easy. It’s RM40 billion altogether,” Dr Mahathir commented.
Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching had yesterday hurled the blame onto the previous Barisan Nasional government, claiming that it was BN’s move to extend the loan repayment grace period for PTPTN borrowers, that resulted in lower repayments this year.
Teo reportedly said that it was unfair to therefore place the blame squarely on the present government’s removal of 429,945 PTPTN borrowers from the immigration department’s blacklist, for the drop in loan repayments between January and September.