Putrajaya targets study loan borrowers but ignores defaulting tycoons, says Anwar
BY MUZLIZA MUSTAFA
Published: 13 October 2014
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says the government seems hell bent on forcing study loan borrowers under PTPTN to repay, but ignores the rich who have defaulted billions of ringgit. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, October 13, 2014.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today slammed Putrajaya over its tough stance on defaulters of National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN), saying that the government should instead go after tycoons and businessmen who owe the country billions.
The opposition leader said the government was focusing on youngsters instead of recovering debts and loans from the rich.
“I am upset because the debts owed by 1MBD, carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan, Perwaja, Tan Sri Tajuddin (Ramli) and some billionaires are not considered a problem.
"But youngsters who owe PTPTN are the core of their discussion and the issue is being brought up again and again,” said Anwar in Parliament today.
He also said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's use of a hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad) to drive home the importance of settling debts was out of context.
“In this context, if the person is in debt due to an unfair system, such as if I am poor and I want to study... I have no other option but to borrow money while the responsibility to help lies with the government, then there must be a consideration.
"The people mentioned in the hadith are the rich who owe money and make millions (of profit),” said Anwar.
He said in principal, those who owed money need to repay their debts but not to the extent that the poor are burdened.
“They (the government) are very vocal when it comes to regular folks but failed to bring up the debts that have been written off, such as Deepak’s and Perwaja’s,” said Anwar, referring to the country's largest steel-maker.
He urged Putrajaya to be transparent and consistent.
“Don’t abuse the people and those who are defenceless,” he said.
Four days ago, Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said PTPTN loan defaulters would be given three months to discuss on how to repay their outstanding amount, or their names would be included in the Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS).
He said there were those taking advantage of PTPTN's flexibility by not making any payment at all.
"When we implement the system, we will give three months for the borrowers to discuss and make payments before their names are listed in the CCRIS."
The announcement did not go well with the students, with activists planning a demonstration.
Vocal student activist Adam Adli Abdul Halim said university students were not taking the matter lightly.
"We are discussing it. We will definitely protest," Adam said.
Apart from students, the move against defaulting borrowers drew condemnations from the opposition and non-governmental organisations.
"We will make sure that nobody will be at a loss. PTPTN, students and the country will be happy," Adam told The Malaysian Insider.
Adam said the latest move showed that the fund was never set up for students' welfare but was a means to profit from their suffering.
"It is not right to list down the individuals who owe money to PTPTN in the CCRIS. In a declining economy and difficulty in getting jobs, students should be given the opportunity to take loans to start a business.
"Blacklisting them will simply mean they will be denied access to funds,” he said.
Adam argued that the CCRIS listing would not solved any problems, instead, he said it showed the minister's short-sightedness.
Anwar, meanwhile, questioned if the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission would investigate billionaire tycoon Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan for alleged graft.
“The country was shocked with the RM700 million corruption charge against Malaysia’s second richest man Ananda Krishnan together with Maran siblings while they were with the India Telecommunication Ministry through Astro All Asia Networks (AAAN).
"Will MACC carry out investigation against Khazanah as well as other big shareholders in AAAN?" asked Anwar.
He also asked if MACC was going to investigate how Ananda secured the telecommunication licence to operate in Malaysia and how 1MDB, the government's investment arm, was allowed to be in debt despite an outstanding loan of RM36.25 billion. – October 13, 2014.
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