KUCHING, Dec 9: Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik must show more sensitivity and professionalism in framing new policies affecting the people.
A case in point is the recent incident where he announced an Income Contingent Loan Repayment (ICLR) scheme that was later suspended due to strong objections, said Voon Shiak Ni, a special officer (Sarawak) to the federal Ministry of Housing and Local Government.
In a statement, Voon said she was “unpleasantly surprised” to read about the ICLR National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) repayment scheme introduced by the Education Ministry, where the scheme adopts the mode of repayment of PTPTN loans by way of scheduled deductions on borrower’s salary.
Under the ICLR scheme, borrowers earning RM2,000 and above will have between two and 15 per cent of their salaries deducted to repay their PTPTN loans.
“I am of the opinion that the said repayment scheme is not people-friendly nor holistic as it is putting up a task for employers to manage the deductions for loan repayment and is also a violation of workers’ rights to deduct one’s income without due consent for the scheduled deduction.
“Of course, it is also deemed as an unfair measure to those PTPTN borrowers who have been servicing their loans on time.
“The measure is seen as drastic and stigmatising our young people in a way, too, as ‘defaulters’,” said Voon.
Citing statistics released in Parliament, Voon said the majority of borrowers had paid up their loans, with only about 19 per cent of PTPTN borrowers yet to do so.
“It is good that Maszlee had finally put on hold the said repayment scheme and had taken the flaks and criticisms constructively and had listened to the public’s woes.
“Nevertheless, the public at large are of the good opinion that our minister needs to be more people-sensitive when coming to framing and legislating new policies and systems affecting the people.
“To suspend a decision after drawing flak from the public does not look good on the ministry and compromises public confidence in our governance, and (cause the government) to be labeled ‘flip-flops’,” she said.
Voon expressed her hope that the ministry would not rush into announcing any future decisions and policies and to observe the importance of taking public feedback and consulting stakeholders .
Meanwhile, PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan had announced that borrowers earning less than RM2,000 a month would be exempted from repaying their student loans. — DayakDaily