What brought Pakatan victory could also be our downfall, says Syed Saddiq

Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman gives a talk at Karangkraf in Shah Alam December 7, 2018. — Picture by Choo Choo May
Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman gives a talk at Karangkraf in Shah Alam December 7, 2018. — Picture by Choo Choo May

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman today said Pakatan Harapan (PH) stood to lose Putrajaya if it didn’t address issues that it used during its GE14 campaign against Barisan Nasional (BN).

At a forum organised by Sinar Harian, the Muar MP cited living costs and the controversies surrounding the National Higher Education Fund Corporation’s (PTPTN) revised repayment scheme as among the issues that must be resolved effectively.

“I feel first and foremost are the issues related to the cost of living. This is still the main issue.

“That’s why, as the youth and sports minister, I need to work with every ministry in order to answer all the questions asked by the youths,” he said, pointing to the Transport Ministry and Economic Affairs Ministry as the two key partners.

“Hence, when we discuss PTPTN, I must speak up... I have to bring the issue to Cabinet, to get a decision that is favourable to the youths.

“If this issue — which brought us to power — is not handled well, it can also become the issue that gets us kicked out of government,” Syed Saddiq added.

Earlier today, Education Minister Maszlee Malik overruled PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan’s proposal to garnish the wages of student loan borrowers.

Wan Saiful announced the scheme on Wednesday and said it would begin in 2019, or less than a month away.

Today, Maszlee said this will not proceed.

“The ICLR PTPTN repayment scheme will be suspended for the time being until we receive the collective input and feedback from all stakeholders,” he said on Twitter.

The wage garnishment scheme drew swift criticism from both sides of the political divide as well as from employers and employees, with unions and Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran pointing out that there was no law to compel firms to facilitate the wage garnishment.

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said the proposal was complicated and burdensome, while the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said the move would be unlawful without express consent from the borrowers.

Existing PTPTN borrowers, who said they have been repaying regularly, called the move unfair as it would cause a spike in their monthly commitments.

The scheme proposes to directly deduct the wages of borrowers earning above RM2,000 monthly at rates of between 2 and 15 per cent depending on their income levels.

Yesterday, Wan Saiful insisted that the agreements borrowers signed with PTPTN gave his agency the authority to pursue repayment by any means necessary.

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