By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin has insisted that Universiti Selangor’s (Unisel) appeal for National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) loans to be restored showed that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) could not deliver its promise of free education.
This is despite the PR-governed state announcing it would sell land owned by the university to raise RM30 million to help finance those being denied access to the student loans.
The higher education minister said on micro-blogging site Twitter last night that the university, owned by the PKR-led state government, “appealed to me and stated PTPTN was in fact necessary, so there is no reason not to agree how important PTPTN is.”
“PTPTN’s press statement said the temporary postponement is to study the matter, not for a permanent freeze. (The) opposition acknowledge the importance of PTPTN, free education is just a mere promise,” he wrote.
The federal government had yesterday reversed its move to freeze student loans for Selangor-owned universities after it drew fierce criticism from PR politicians who were joined by some Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders fearing a political backlash.
It came just days after the freeze was first announced and a day after Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin defended as a “fair test” the move which was clearly aimed at laying bare PR’s campaign for free university education.
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah also criticised the move early yesterday after Selangor had announced it would help those who could not access PTPTN loans.
PTPTN had confirmed earlier yesterday newly enrolled students at the Selangor Islamic University College (Kuis) were to join those in Unisel in being denied student loans.
But Saifuddin wrote on Twitter that “the Kuis rector has met me and I have informed the minister of his appeal that PTPTN loans not be frozen for his students. Kuis’ official letter will be sent shortly.”
The Temerloh MP also told The Malaysian Insider that he was awaiting a reply from Khaled after “informing him the freeze is being widely and strongly objected and seeks his good office to rescind it.”
The uproar over the freeze also led to BN Youth leaders voicing their disagreement, pointing out that the “test” was unnecessary as “it is clear Selangor cannot give free education.”
“Enough. Must stop. Morally wrong AND bad politics,” Khairy wrote on Twitter in response to the freeze on Kuis.
“I don’t want students becoming victims,” the Rembau MP also said earlier.
But these protests from members of the ruling coalition came after Selangor decided to raise RM30 million by selling land owned by Unisel to provide financial assistance to students who have been denied the loans.
An Umno leader told The Malaysian Insider that if Selangor were to succeed in funding the affected students, “it would mean they have passed the test” set by Muhyiddin.