University students have one more thing to bear other than heavy syllabus and student loans. Now, they have to bear the heat and walk miles under the sun as a sign of protest over the government’s failure to fulfil one of the pledges concerning the fresh graduates.
According to Malay Mail, about 20 students from some local public universities had taken to the street on Wednesday (Nov 14) to protest against Pakatan Harapan’s lie in its election manifesto which promised student loan under National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) would be deferred until the borrowers earn more than RM4,000 a month.
This march came after PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan’s admission on November 10 that the government couldn’t afford to allow deferment on the student loan which had ballooned to RM40 billion. FMT reported Wan Saiful as saying that if the deferment were allowed, the government wouldn’t have any money left to let out the loan to future students.
The protest was led by Muhammad Faizzuddin Mohd Zai and the group was wearing their respective university convocation robes. Calling themselves as the Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Malaysia (Gamis), they started walking from University Malaya to the Parliament but were stopped by the police 500m outside the gates.
“PTPTN remains a burden to low-income students who are merely trying to make ends meet.
“It is unfair that they will be burdened with a huge repayment, especially those who just entered the job market as many are earning less than RM2,000,” said Faizzuddin, the president of Gamis.
The students-cum-protesters were seen sweating in their robes. Some of them told the reporters their fellow undergraduates couldn’t participate in this protest as many of them had morning classes.
Gamis is a coalition of student bodies joint together from over 20 universities. They hoped to meet the Education Minister Maszlee Malik but instead, Abdul Hannaan Khairy, an aide to Mazlee, was sent as a representative.
“We want to tell Maszlee that he is a hypocrite,” the protest leader declared. “He talks big about democracy but he let us walk 9km only to wait at the roadside as if we are nothing.
“Yes, we are not like mega-corporations that can lobby for the Pakatan Harapan government. We students are the poorest segment of the people and will continue to be so due to our PTPTN debt being taken away from our salaries automatically, by force.”
He was referring to what was tabled in Budget 2019. The government would introduce a scheduled repayment scheme that would allow borrowers to pay their debt by deducting 2%-15% of their monthly salary, except for those making RM1,000 and below.