By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — Lim Kit Siang has called on the prime minister to put an end to the National Higher Education Fund Corporation’s (PTPTN) freeze on loans to Universiti Selangor (Unisel) applicants, saying there was no justification for the move.
The DAP parliamentary leader said today Datuk Seri Najib Razak should intervene and end the “politics of intimidation and bullying.”
“It is a criminal breach of trust. Public funds are meant for the interests of the public, not politicking,” Lim (picture) told reporters in Parliament.
“Barisan Nasional (BN) should not sacrifice the future of Unisel students; there is no excuse or justification for the freeze,” he added.
The Ipoh Timor MP said the loan freeze was an example of “power play” between Umno and BN and that it was a tactic to capture Selangor in the next general election.
“They (BN) have been in power too long; they have forgotten the meaning of trust.
“All Malaysians must deliver a very severe lesson to Umno and BN; their shelf life as government of the day has well past,” Lim stressed.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin had been quoted by The Star as saying the loan freeze was a temporary move that was made following “political pressure” from the opposition over free education.
“PTPTN wants to determine how serious the opposition is in wanting to provide free education. If it is serious, then students in state-owned private institutes of higher learning like Unisel need not apply for study loans from PTPTN because education will be provided free to them,” he said.
Khaled had also referred to the matter on his Twitter account on Tuesday night, suggesting that Unisel scrap its student fees to “fulfil” PR’s and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s promise to offer free education for all and to abolish PTPTN should it come to power.
In response, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli flayed the minister for punishing the students to take “revenge” against PR over the ongoing PTPTN debacle.
Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has since said it was “fair” of the PTPTN to freeze loans to Unisel applicants to “test” if PR could provide free education as claimed.
According to The Star Online, the deputy prime minister gave his assurance that the loan freeze was only temporary, saying that if Unisel students really needed the loans, this would prove PR’s vow to abolish PTPTN was not made in the group’s interest.
Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said yesterday Unisel will be liquidating some assets to assist students who are unable to access PTPTN study loans, and that the said assets were accrued following the restructuring of debts of Talam Corporation.
PR and BN leaders have been at loggerheads over the federal student loan scheme PTPTN, which the opposition claims should be abolished before the country is saddled with a massive education loan debt in the future.