PETALING JAYA, Nov 10 — Pakatan Harapan’s failure to honour its pledge to defer federal student loan repayments for low-income earners is unacceptable, said student groups when rejecting the pact’s excuse of weak public finances.
After National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan cited worse-than-expected government debt as the reason, the groups insisted that previously available information would have shown whether the pledge was possible.
Today, an apologetic Wan Saiful announced that PTPTN cannot currently afford to defer repayments for borrowers earning below RM4,000 monthly as pledged and said that doing so would endanger the agency’s ability to fund future students’ studies.
Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Malaysia (Gamis) president Muhammad Faizzuddin Mohd Zai described the announcement as very disappointing.
“Their announcement to break the pledge makes them worse than the previous BN (administration),” he said.
He added that he was also not optimistic about the pact’s commitment to ever deliver on this pledge, but insisted that the promise be kept.
Faizuddin said his group plans to start a movement to press the PH government to honour the pledge, but did not elaborate.
University of Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany) president Wong Yang Ke similarly rejected Wan Saiful’s explanation for breaking the pledge.
Among others, he noted that this was also the reason given by Barisan Nasional when students previously demanded free tertiary education.
“It is not that we don’t understand the current situation facing the country. However, it is such an unhealthy behaviour for them to blame their failure to fulfil their promise on the country’s finances.
“Furthermore, they should construct a sustainable plan to support their pledge,’’ he said.
“Till now we only saw them give lip service yet I don’t a proper plan on fulfilling their pledge. They do not issue any steps or details on what they intend to do each time they discussed public policies,’’ he added.