The Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor state government was the winner following the short-lived freeze of study loans imposed by the Federal government on students of Universiti Selangor (Unisel) and Selangor International Islamic University College (KUIS), said PAS’s Research Centre director Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Rubbishing the claim by Higher Education minister Khaled Nordin that the episode proved BN had been right in insisting that the controversial loan scheme under the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) should remain, Dzulkefly said it was BN that had “fizzled out in the play” which was supposedly to ‘test’ PR’s policy to offer free tertiary education at federal level if the coalition wins the coming polls.
“But, before the time fizzled out, BN withdrew its decision (to freeze). They know we are capable, that was why they had to pull the brakes. I believe if BN had continued the freeze, we (PR Selangor) will be able to help those students and give maximum impact to PR,” he added.
The decision to freeze the study loans was quickly called off one day after Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim announced that the state would dispose Unisel’s assets and use part of the RM30 million it could raise to help students who had been denied financial help by the Federal government.
The minister, Khaled, however, quickly claimed victory in the fiasco by citing an ‘appeal’ by Unisel to prove that PTPTN was necessary.
“(Unisel) appealed to me and stated PTPTN was in fact necessary, so there is no reason not to agree how important PTPTN is.
“PTPTN’s press statement said the temporary postponement is to study the matter, not for a permanent freeze. (The) opposition acknowledge the importance of PTPTN, free education is just a mere promise,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
But Dzulkefly pointed out that it was obvious that BN was now on a ‘panic mode’ due to people’s confidence in PR’s policies, especially when they hit right on target group, the youth.
“It had distinguished us from BN at the time the people were moving to new politics, they (BN) are still stuck in the old politics of vengeance. When we offered free education, we offered it together with the revamping of budget as a whole. We strategize the budget inline with the development of human resources,” stressed the Kuala Selangor member of parliament.
The abrupt end to the freeze appeared to be yet another policy about-turn by the BN this year, following its decision not to pursue civil servants’ new salary scheme (SBPA).