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PKR Youth Chief Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir (centre) speaks to the media after the PKR Youth Congress in Ayer Keroh.- NSTP/Rasul Azli Samad

MELAKA: There is a need to avoid piecemeal solutions when it comes to government policies meant for undergraduates.

PKR Youth chief Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir said that while efforts by the government to address the problem of the high cost of living faced by youths who were furthering their studies at tertiary institutes were formidable, they needed to be strengthened.

“The wing supports the government’s initiative to reduce the burden of cost of living faced by our youths at campuses through the foodbank programme.

“This foodbank programme for undergraduates needs to be further strengthened.

“However, such a programme are piecemeal solutions.

“While we are striving to improve the administration (governing these undergraduates), we have to be honest about such changes we want to make about these policies,” Akmal said in his policy speech at the PKR Youth annual congress.

The PKR Youth Congress has been marred by a series of brawls led by an opposing faction and other unknown groups outside and inside the hall where the congress was held here.

Despite the melee, Akmal continued with his speech, and touched on the five focuses of the youth wing, which included one focus that dealt with higher education and the role of undergraduates.

The remaining four focuses of PKR Youth are the Creation of a Youth Community, Youth Economy, Reformation and Leadership and Organisational Discipline.

He said entities such as the Mahasiswa Keadilan Malaysia movement, which was under PKR Youth, had successfully looked into the plight of B40 undergraduates.

He said among the successful cases dealt by the movement was the plight of 169 undergraduates from the Bottom 40 per cent income group (B40) who allegedly faced problems obtaining student accommodation at public higher learning institutes.

In this regard, Akmal said the government must be brave enough to change certain administrative policies at public and private varsities for the betterment of students who, like the rest of society, were struggling to make ends meet.

Akmal, who is Johor Baru member of parliament, said unsustainable policies such as the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) needed to be abolished because they had caused the government to be burdened with debts.

“The reality is 68 per cent of PTPTN borrowers are in the B40 category.

“The debts incurred by the government continues to increase by RM2 to RM3 billion every year.

“Based on predictions, if the PTPTN is not tackled well, these debts will increase to RM76 billion in 20 years time,” said Akmal.

The Pakatan Harapan manifesto in last year’s general election had pledged to reduce the burden faced by graduates when paying back their PTPTN loan.

Among other things, the manifesto stated that the students should only be compelled to start repaying their loans upon raking in a RM4,000 income.

Excellent students and students from low income families would be given suitable discounts, or have their PTPTN loan abolished. -- Reporting by Ahmad Fairuz Othman, Syed Umar Ariff, Arfa Yunus and Hana Naz Harun

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