Report: Unhappy university students to join anti-ICERD rally over PTPTN grouses

Student activists gather to protest against the ICERD in Kuala Lumpur December 8, 2018. — Picture by Azril Annuar
Student activists gather to protest against the ICERD in Kuala Lumpur December 8, 2018. — Picture by Azril Annuar

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — University students who are unhappy with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s proposed National Higher Education Fund Corporation’s (PTPTN) loan repayment scheme will be joining the anti-ICERD rally today, a report said.

Gabungan Mahasiswa Se-Islam Malaysia (Gamis) said the students will be showing their objections to both the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and PTPTN.

“The latest information is that 5,000 university students nationwide will join the gathering. We are not happy with the recent developments in PTPTN,” president Muhammad Faizzuddin Mohd Zai was quoted as saying by local daily The Star.

Gamis was referring to PTPTN’s proposal on Wednesday for a wage garnishment scheme that would 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.

However, Education Minister Maszlee Malik yesterday said the controversial scheme that has been widely panned would be suspended.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, whose party is co-organising the anti-ICERD rally this afternoon, reportedly said he expected youths and university students to also bolster the number of rally participants today.

“Many feel cheated by Pakatan’s promises, especially on PTPTN repayments,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.

The anti-ICERD rally, which targeted a turnout of 500,000 people, is organised by Umno, PAS, a coalition of Malay-Muslim groups Ummah and the newly-formed National Sovereignty Secretariat (Daulat).

Prior to the 14th general elections, PH had promised to defer PTPTN loan repayments for borrowers with monthly income of below RM4,000, but PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan had last month said the promise cannot be fulfilled now as it would have a long-term negative effect on the fund.

“We do not want (the implementation of delaying repayments) to result in the government having to close down PTPTN in the coming years due to a high debt burden,” he had said.

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