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PTPTN: Opposition running low of political capital, say analysts
KUALA LUMPUR: Several political observers have questioned why the opposition parties are picking on the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) study loan.
The loan scheme is good and has been helpful to many students who otherwise had no means of financing their higher education aspirations, they said.
One thing is clear, said social activist Zainab Yusoff, the opposition is running low of ideas and political capital other than resorting to discrediting the measures taken by the government.
"They just want to deny the good things which the government has been doing," she told Bernama.
The PTPTN, she said, is one of the many assistance given by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government in the effort to spur the country's education, from pre-school way up to the higher education level.
The public is now starting to ask why the opposition wants to get rid of the PTPTN which has brought about benefits to students who aspire to further their studies, she said.
"The government provides scholarships to top-performing students but it does not want to deny others the opportunity to continue with their studies up to university level.
"Without the PTPTN, can parents afford to bear the cost? What more if the cost is not subsidised?" she said.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin himself had clarified that the government had to bear between 85 to 95 per cent of the subsidy for studies at public institutions of higher learning.
For instance, the annual fee for the technical field at a public institution of higher learning is about RM17,989 but students need only pay RM2,605, with the government subsidising a large chunk of the cost, at RM15,384.
Social activist and lecturer, Prof Datuk Mohamed Hamdan Adnan said the explanation given by the government on the huge assistance given to students had scared the opposition off because in reality, the opposition had never done anything for the good of the students.
"The opposition is afraid that the public will find out how huge is the subsidy given by the government to the education sector in the country.
"So they play up the PTPTN issue by insinuating that they sympathise with the students, saying they are faced with debts even before they are employed," he told Bernama.
Even if the opposition comes to power, Mohamed Hamdan said, they would not be able to write off the PTPTN loans, which until to date, amounts to more than RM40 billion.
And then, he said, their leaders would find all sorts of excuses about why they could not keep their promise.
A father, Hamed Md Nasir, said many muftis and religious figures had made statements to the effect that debts, including PTPTN loans, must be paid back.
"This is the people's money, well-managed by the government all this while. How can one man abolish it and allow debts to go unpaid?
"Furthermore, the existing system is already running smoothly. Let it proceed for the benefit of the coming generations too," he said, adding that he always reminds his own children to settle their PTPTN loans.
Tolls can be abolished when the concessionaires had obtained profit but PTPTN is not a business undertaking, he said. "It's a fund to enable poor students to finance their studies."
In the 2012 budget, the government allocated RM50.2 billion for the education sector, and RM2.68 billion to finance post-graduate studies for 55,200 students in the 10th Malaysia Plan.
Universiti Teknologi Mara, Dungun campus, political science lecturer Che Hamdan Mohd Razali said the opposition was trying to get the support for the coming general election.
PTPTN actually helps a lot, especially in giving a chance for all to pursue studies at a high level, he said.
In the meantime, he said, scholarships are still offered by the Public Service Department and Majlis Amanah Rakyat for top-performing students.
"Students have a choice whether to take a PTPTN loan. It's not compulsory that they must take a PTPTN loan and there is no need for any party to be a hero and wanting to get rid of it," he said. -- BERNAMA