Student bodies slam PTPTN wage garnishment, call for dialogue with stakeholders

R. Loheswar
Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Se-Malaysia president Faizuddin Mohd Zai said PTPTN's tiered wage garnishing scheme is unfair as policymakers aren’t following Bank Negara’s statistics. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — Student bodies critical of the move by the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) to garnish the wages of its borrowers say a dialogue with stakeholders beforehand would have been helpful.

Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Se-Malaysia president Faizuddin Mohd Zai said the tiered wage garnishing scheme is unfair as policymakers aren’t following Bank Negara’s statistics which show a decent wage starts at RM2,700 for singles, RM4,500 for a married couple without kids and RM6,500 with kids.

Not only that, he urged the government to not make hasty decisions before having a proper discussion with stakeholders.

“The system is such that, first, it forces you to get an education otherwise you can’t get a job. Then you have to pay for this education which you can’t afford, so you borrow. Then, you are expected to graduate, go out into the world and find a job in this poor economic climate,” he said.

Faizuddin also asked for PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan to step down.

“He should have engaged with scholars, graduates and NGOs before making a decision. He’s burdening the poor youngsters with his policies which do not work. We will fight this policy till the end.”

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya Association of New Youth president Wong Yan Ke called for better background checks for borrowers.

“There are many stories of those taking the money and then purchasing a car, phone or even putting a downpayment on a house. How do you screen those that need the money most and those abusing it,” he asked.

“Then there’s the matter of the underprivileged. A mere RM50-60 a month can go a long way. Case in point, a friend of mine whose parents have passed away is currently the breadwinner for five people...RM50 will go a long way.”

He was referring to the issue of wage garnishing where some borrowers maintain that an additional RM50-60 a month on top of what they have been paying is going to cause hardship.

Sharan Raj a former Universiti Tenaga Nasional student representative, says he has been fighting PTPTN’s flawed system for five years.

He highlighted the lack of new public universities since 2008 but an increase in school leavers and private institutions of higher learning (IPTS) while also questioning the dubious move of former chairman Shamsul Anuar to relocate PTPTN’s offices to Megan Avenue from Damansara in 2015.

“PTPTN being a social enterprise should have stayed in the Duta government complex or Putrajaya for free instead of occupying an expensive property in KLCC,” said Raj, referring to the Kuala Lumpur City Centre area.

“Then there’s the matter of so many IPTS whose average fee is three times those in IPTAs. The question here is, are graduates paying for their education loan or politicians’ mismanagement?” he asked. IPTAs is the Malay acronym for public institutes of higher learning.

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