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No PTPTN and Selangor needs to find its own funds – Muhyiddin Yassin

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Selangor (Jun,7) The freeze on student loans for state government-owned Universiti Selangor was the topic du jour at the press conference with Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin at SK Taman Melawati in Selangor today.

Reporters grilled Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, on the matter only to have the minister say ad nauseum that the freeze is a test for PKR to prove it can implement its free education proposal.

Backing Muhyiddin was Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister and Selangor Umno deputy chief Noh Omar, who at the same event said students will not suffer as a result of the move as PTPTN will resume giving out loans once PKR admits it was wrong.

Below is the transcript of the press conference, pertaining to the PTPTN issue:

Journalist: Could you comment on PTPTN’s move to freeze loans to Unisel?

Muhyiddin: I believe (Higher Education Minister) Khaled Nordin announced this as the Selangor MB said they want to abolish PTPTN and Unisel is state-owned. (He) wants to see if the students can really cope without PTPTN…that’s the reason.

The issue doesn’t arrise for other universities or colleges. Maybe he wanted to check if (PKR) is for real, to really check.

If finally it turns out that the students need PTPTN then it shows that PKR had proposed something unreasonable without considering the students.

It’s a matter of education and students’ future, so I believe Khaled is smart enough to weigh the situation. After he is satisfied, maybe…

The opposition is saying that you’re taking out your anger on the students?

We are not angry. This issue was raised by them, not us. For lots of schools, universities and colleges, whether private or public, students enroll due to PTPTN.

They don’t know what they’re talking about and now it’s backfired on them so they’ve woken up but won’t own up to their mistake.

Why was Unisel kept in the dark?

That is PTPTN’s matter, it is a body… it is reviewing, as the Selangor government said it doesn’t need PTPTN loans for its students. If the MB doesn’t want it then PTPTN need not give. Selangor needs to find its own funds.

We have given loans to all. This freeze is unprecedented and only as reaction to Pakatan leaders who say they want to abolish PTPTN.

Is it a responsible thing to do behind the university’s back?

Your question is very malicious. I think all the other media know that’s not what I mean.

(PTPTN) did not cancel all loans, but temporarily halted it so they can review it first. That’s fair lah .

If the (Selangor) MB says there’s no need for students to take the loans, then PTPTN need not give out the loans.

But the question was why wasn’t the university informed?

Never mind, they are studying it.

(Muhyiddin is asked on different matters, but returns to PTPTN)

PKR has said that free education is a federal matter?

There is nothing free in this world, when it’s free someone else has to pay. If PKR says it is free, who will pay for teachers, books? Does PKR have funding coming from the sky? Or will they raise taxes? So it is the rakyat who will pay.

So when they say something like this, it is political. We as government won’t do something without first considering it thoroughly.

If everything is free, well even I’ll agree to that but at the end of the day who pays? Are teachers free? Books, are they free? Equipment in schools, this building, free? Someone has to pay, who is it? The rakyat.

The government says no need to pay so it raises taxes to give free education. That’s the reason. If it doesn’t the government will go bankrupt.

They have to study these things, don’t just say it. The rakyat will be happy if everything is free. I too will vote for them 100 times but at the end of the day, would a government or party responsible to the country say such a thing? Or are they trying to ruin the country’s future and its economy on purpose?

No one can give things for free. If you work in the private sector, which company would say I give it to you for free, at the end of the day who’s going to pay? Salary, food, drinks, who will pay?

Schooling expenses, free food, who pays for it? Whatever we can support we will, most of it is free. But if everything is to be free…

They have to be responsible, shouldn’t play with too much politics or else the rakyat will be confused and attracted to promises like this which in reality will ruin the country. They have to be responsible.

(Muhyiddin leaves for lunch.)

Noh ( left ): Unisel is under the state government so if they want to give free education (there), what has it got to do with the federal government?

PTPTN gives loans to private college students. If the state declares it cannot afford to give free education and walk its talk then I am confident the federal government is not cruel.

Education is the federal (government’s) jurisdiction.

True, if the university is under federal powers. But who owns Unisel? I want to challenge the MB to declare if Unisel is making money or in debt. If they can’t even manage Unisel…

PTPTN is funded by taxpayers money. Does it mean that the federal government should return Selangor’s tax?

It’s not a question of returning or not returning. This is the best chance for PKR to prove that it can provide free education as Unisel is under the state government.

If they cannot then declare lah . If they declare, I am confident the Higher Education Ministry will give the students the loans. We are giving them a chance, if they can’t, PTPTN will give the loan, it’s not like it won’t. It’s a chance for Selangor to prove itself.

This is a collision between two political parties and the students are suffering.

No collision. What is this? Students don’t suffer. If the state can give them free education then why would they suffer? You don’t talk on behalf of the state government.

I’m not talking on behalf of the state government.

Let the MB answer. Whether the state government declares if they can afford it or not.

The issue is we are asking PTPTN to temporarily halt the loans…the kids had previously gotten loans. We want to see if PKR can fulfill its promise. This is the right time. Do you understand?

So if they declare that they cannot afford to..

They actually cannot afford to do it.

The Selangor government as a state government can’t afford to but the opposition argue they can do it at federal level.

No, you have to understand. Who does Unisel belong to? Is it a federal university?

Where does higher education funding come from?

No. Does it belong to the federal government?

PTPTN is not just for Selangor, it’s nationwide.

True. Now, we are saying Unisel can give free education without PTPTN.

Is this a political game?

(Several cameramen from broadcast media say thank you to the minister, signalling that they want the press conference to end and Noh stops answering questions).