The Umno Youth chief will take on the PKR man on PTPTN and Ambiga on electoral reforms.
KUALA LUMPUR: Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has agreed to take on PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli in an open debate on the National Higher Education Loan (PTPTN) scheme.
He also said in his microblogging site Twitter posting that he has agreed to debate with S Ambiga, the chief of poll reform group Bersih 2.0, on poll reforms just three days before the coalition of NGOs hold its planned mass protest on April 28.
“I have agreed to debate @ambiga_s on 25 April re(garding) electoral reforms & @rafiziramli 3 May on PTPTN. Details to come,” he said.
Khairy’s tweet came immediately after Rafizi issued a statement earlier inviting the Umno Youth chief to a debate on the controversial education loan scheme, a key election issue for the opposition as it aims to get the youth, which now form the country’s majority electorate, to back its bid to wrest Putrajaya.
The opposition bloc Pakatan Rakyat said it would use oil revenue to cancel debts owed by students and abolish PTPTN should it helm the country, a move government leaders described as merely populist and grossly irresponsible.
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, under Rafizi’s advice, dismissed suggestions that tapping into the income of Petronas would jeapordise its future investments, saying their “calculations” indicate the plan’s viability.
Rafizi said in the statement today that it only required an annual investment of RM2 billion to offset the RM24.7 billion loan owed to PTPTN.
“This includes regulating investment of oil and gas revenue into education, reducing defence spending, fighting corruption and stopping leakages and wastage.
“A sum of RM2 billion is pittance compared to the recent decisions made by the government of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak that have cost taxpayers money,” he said, citing the RM250- million National Feedlot Centre scandal and the controversial RM1 billion toll concessions given directly to a supposed crony company as examples of Putrajaya’s “wastage”. Best avenue
But Khairy argued that the point was not about whether the PTPTN loan could be cleared but rather, if the government should make the move, saying that “most don’t think the government should”.
Rafizi said he welcomed the debate with Khairy, saying an open debate would be the best avenue to educate voters on the subject.
Meanwhile, Ambiga, in an immediate response, said in her Twitter posting that she was looking forward to engaging Khairy in the event organised by English tabloid Malay Mail.
Khairy, the Rembau MP, had accused Bersih of being an opposition stooge and insincere in its effort to push for clean and fair elections, saying the watchdog was more keen on tarnishing Putrajaya’s image and overthrowing the ruling coalition.
He also criticised the group for its plan to hold a third rally in the coming weeks. The Umno Youth leader said the group should seek a more diplomatic solution to the impasse over poll reforms.
He added that the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on poll reform had came up with good recommendations to improve the election system, but Bersih’s decision to hold a mass protest reflected the group’s masked disinterest in a genuine solution.
Ambiga, however, argued that all key aspects of poll reforms could be implemented instantaneously.
The former Bar Council president said the failure to fulfil the promise that reforms would be implemented before national polls are held meant Najib does not want a free and fair election.