It’s back to the old Malaysia — Hafiz Hassan

DECEMBER 7 — It’s back to the old Malaysia – a decision announced on a day only for it to be called off a day or two after.

I’m referring to the decision of Education Minister Maszlee Malik who called off National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan’s proposal to garnish the wages of student loan borrowers.

Wan Saiful announced the scheme on Wednesday. Today, Maszlee said this will not proceed.

It beats me how the proposal drew swift criticism from employers and even more so from Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran, who pointed out that there was no law to compel employers to facilitate the wage garnishment.

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said the proposal was complicated and burdensome. M. Kulasegaran and MEF must have not read section 29 of the PTPTN ACT 1997 (Act 566).

The section states as follow:

(1) It shall be the duty of an employer by whom a recipient student is employed, upon being notified in writing by the [PTPTN] or Inland Revenue Board from time to time-

(a) to deduct from the salary of the recipient student such sum of moneys as notified by the [PTPTN] or Inland Revenue Board, being the monthly amount of repayment required of the recipient student towards the discharge of his educational loan; and

(b) to remit the amount so deducted to the [PTPTN] or Inland Revenue Board on a monthly basis.

(2) An employer who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding twenty thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year to both.

In short, Act 566 imposes a duty on an employer, upon being notified in writing by the PTPTN, to deduct from the salary of its employee towards payment of the employee’s educational loan.

This is ‘compelling’ enough for employers to ‘facilitate’ Wan Saiful’s proposal, more so when the contravention of the duty is an offence.

Such statutory duty should not be ‘burdensome’, especially Act 566 has been in force since July 1997.

And such ignorance of the duty cannot be condoned as ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

Mazlee should show a backbone and stand by Wan Saiful.

*This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.