Explain write-off of Tajudin's debt to PTPTN borrowers: PAS
The government must explain its decision to write-off some RM600 million in debts owed by former Malaysia Airlines System chairman Tajudin Ramli , while at the same time embarking on a 'witch hunt' of students who had no choice but to take study loans under the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN).
Amid an intense campaign by Barisan Nasional to run down the recent pledge by Pakatan Rakyat to provide free tertiary education for Malaysians, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu said there had yet to be any explanation why the government could not similarly afford to implement free education, other than frequently pointing out that students who obtained first-class degrees are exempted from loan repayment.
"Tell the PTPTN borrowers why Tajudin's RM589 million debt can be written off but in contrast, they are hunted down," Mat Sabu said.
His comments come as some 500 students marched in the capital on April 14 to demand that the government abolish PTPTN. A group of the students continued their protest today, vowing to camp out at Dataran Merdeka until their demands were met.
On remarks by deputy prime minister and Education minister Muhyiddin Yassin that the government subsidised a large portion of education costs, Mat Sabu hit back by reminding the source of government funds.
"That is the government's duty. Why does the people pay taxes if not to reap their benefits for them?" he asked.
Mat Sabu said instead of embarking on its current offensive against those who call for free education, the government should instead find ways to minimise financial leakages, corruption and unfair practices to benefit crony businessmen, citing the success of the Penang state government in saving millions of ringgit.
"And that has not taken into account the Petronas revenue if it is spent wisely, as explained by (PKR strategic director) Rafizi Ramli," he added.
Prior to this, Mat Sabu said the RM17 billion in subsidies provided to independent power producers (IPPs) owned by UMNO-linked tycoons, in addition to some RM28 billion being wastages as pointed out by the Auditor General's report, would both amount to a total saving of RM45 billion, thus enabling the government to write off study loans.
Mat Sabu said the government's strong opposition against the campaign to abolish PTPTN would only fuel anger among borrowers and their families.
"They ask questions such as why they are made to pay RM63,000 although they only borrowed RM48,000, and mock the PTPTN as loan shark," he said, adding that he was looking forward to meeting students encamped at Dataran Merdeka upon his return from Sarawak.