The plan to implement scheduled salary deductions from National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) borrowers will proceed from next year as announced as the decision was taken after weighing the interests of two groups of people - existing borrowers and the future generation.
In a statement today, PTPTN chairperson Wan Saiful Wan Jan (above) said while he hears the grouses of borrowers who are complaining that they will be burdened by a high quantum of deductions, in the long run, it is to ensure that millions from the younger generation are able to attend universities.
"I hear the opinions and suggestions that followed the announcement. I hear their complaints and am willing to consider appeals from those in need of special consideration.
"There are those who say that the scheduled deductions are against the contract signed during the borrowing of the loan. However, I would like to stress here that when borrowers signed the contracts, they had already agreed to pay back according to whatever scheme settled upon by the PTPTN including by employers' deductions.
"There are also those who complain about the authority of employers in deducting salaries. Section 29 of the PTPTN Act, 1997, empowers PTPTN to instruct employers to deduct borrowers' salaries. The provisions in the law are already in place," said Wan Saiful.
Wan Saiful further stressed that PTPTN always cared for the needs of the people and thus, the new scheme is for the benefit of the coming generations.
"The government has the choice to either prioritise existing borrowers or ensure the preservation of PTPTN so that millions of children today will have the funds to go into universities in the future.
"This was not an easy decision as it involves two groups of people with different priorities. I'm sure the government's decision will ensure PTPTN will be preserved for the benefit of future generations," he said.
Yesterday, Wan Saiful announced that PTPTN was working six agencies - namely EPF, the Inland Revenue Board, the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP), the Accountant-General’s Department, the Armed Forces Payroll Directorate and the PSD for its salary deduction scheme.
Under the scheme, borrowers' salaries will be deducted by percentage, depending on their respective incomes. For those earning RM2,000 until RM2,499.99, the borrowers must pay two percent of their PTPTN salary - in other words, RM40 to RM49.99 - and for incomes of RM2,500 to RM2,999.99 (three percent – RM75 to RM89.99).
For those earning RM3,000 to RM3,999.99 (five percent – RM150 to RM199.99), RM4,000 to RM5,999.99 (eight percent – RM320 to RM479.99), RM6,000 to RM7,999.99 (10 percent – RM600 until RM799.99) and those earning RM8,000 upwards must pay 15 percent of the salary, namely RM1,200 and upwards).
The announcement courted criticism from within Pakatan Harapan, including from PKR president Anwar Ibrahim and Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
Anwar had said that he will be raising the matter directly with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad while Syed Saddiq said he will raise the matter during tomorrow's cabinet meeting.
The MTUC has also raised concern about the plan, saying PTPTN has to obtain consent from both borrowers and their employers before implementing the scheme.
'BN more considerate'
In a statement on his Facebook page, former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak also commented on the matter.
"Yes, during BN's time we also encouraged borrowers to pay back but at the same time, we considered their cost of living. We gave a 20 percent discount to those who settled the loan fully or by half or by salary deduction.
"For those who excelled in their studies, we gave a full exemption on their loan. We encouraged graduates but at the same time, lightened their burden of paying back," he wrote.
He cited that then, borrowers were free to negotiate the amount they could afford to pay back from as low as RM100 a month.
"Today, borrowers are being asked to pay back multiple times that amount, some may even have to pay RM1,200 a month. That is not a small amount. Most of the borrowers with that much earning have families and plans according to their respective cash flows.
"Suddenly, they would find their salaries lessened by thousands of ringgit. How are they supposed to rearrange their monthly commitments on such a short notice?"
Harapan should just "copy and paste" BN's policy of offering incentives for borrowers to repay instead of bulldozing unpopular policies, he added.
Unrestrained power in your hands
For almost 20 years, Malaysiakini has stayed true to the cause of providing the Malaysian public with the truth. We believe that with unadulterated information, the people will obtain power to make informed decisions.
Decisions which lead to a healthy, robust nation - ours!
Keep the truth alive. Support your robust, independent media. You have the unrestrained power to do so.
Who says it's not our fault?
We aren’t trained to take responsibility.
Everytime we observe an injustice - and choose to keep mum - the prevalence of injustice becomes our fault.
Astute journalism paves the way for the public to be continuously furnished with the fastidious truth. You are continuously empowered to act and to uphold the integrity of the nation.
The Rakyat owns Malaysiakini
We choose to take a risk on independent media because we believe that only through independent reporting can one be NOT beholden to the interest of businesses or organisations. This allows us to really pursue the truth - aggressively.
Independent for 20 years.
The victorious people
In the light of holding the truth to power, Malaysiakini will continue to uphold its mission of providing credible news to its discerning public. Your support for Malaysiakini is always treasured as a testament of innate nationalism. Your victory is our history.
Quietly. Effectively. Says it all. Malaysiakini.
Speaking truth to power
When we embarked on this journey 20 years ago, we knew we would face intimidation, harassment, raids, arrests and perhaps even jail terms. We got into this venture with our eyes wide open.
The main reason we have survived this long - when many others have folded - is partly because we are prudent in our finances. But while we may be tightfisted in our budgeting, we do not hold back when it comes to speaking truth to power and holding power to account. And certainly, this new administration will not stop us from continuing to do so.