The Selangor government wonders if the DPM will have the gumption to declare PTPTN's reversal as an unfair move.
Muhyiddin Yassin previously described the widely-criticised move to freeze loans for students at two Selangor-run tertiary institutions as fair.
Faekah Hussin, the political secretary to Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, claimed that the deputy premier’s “malicious” endorsement was akin to shooting himself in the foot.
She also alleged that both Muhyiddin and Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin, who hailed from Johor, were in a state of confusion.
“This is because Johor, which has been the stronghold of Umno, is now the main target of Pakatan Rakyat and in the coming general election, Pakatan will ensure that Johor is no longer a safe deposit for Umno and BN,” she added in a statement.
According to Faekah, PTPTN had reversed its decision because of the intense pressure from within BN and from external quarters.
“Or perhaps Khaled realised that the freeze was tantamount to digging his own grave and that of Umno’s,” she added.
The higher education minister had said that the move was in response to Pakatan’s claim that it would abolish PTPTN and provide free education if it formed the federal government.
However, the freeze was criticised by MIC and MCA leaders as well as Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who argued that the students’ future should not be put at risk due to a political tussle.
PTPTN chairman Ismail Mohamed Said, who confirmed the lifting of the loan suspension, said the freeze was lifted because the Selangor government was seen as not able to provide free education in the state.
The decision came despite the state government stating that it would liquidate assets worth about RM30 million in order to help students whose loans had been frozen.
‘Thank you for failing Najib’
Meanwhile, Faekah said the move to freeze the loans was an extreme form of discrimination practiced by the federal government against the state government, which ran foul of the Federal Constitution which guaranteed equal education rights for all.
“This cruel action was excessive and unprecedented in the nation’s history.
“It also shows that Umno and BN have shifted their focus to defending the federal government as they are losing hope of retaking Selangor in the next polls,” she added.
Recapturing Selangor, which fell into the hands of the opposition in 2008, was considered a top priority for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who headed the state Umno chapter.
On a sarcastic note, Faekah expressed gratitude to Khaled, who she said was tipped to replace Abdul Ghani Othman as the next menteri besar of Johor, Muhyiddin and Selangor Umno deputy chief Noh Omar for failing Najib’s transformation plan.
“After this Khaled will be made the scapegoat for the defeat of Umno/BN, a similar fate which befell former Selangor menteri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo,” she added.
Noh was also included in the list because the agriculture and agro-based industries minister had responded to the freeze by asking PKR to admit making a mistake over its free education plan or the students would suffer.
Najib had thus far remained silent on the matter, prompting speculations that Khaled could have acted on his own, with the blessings of Muhyiddin.
This, according to observers, further strengthened the rumours of a rift between Umno’s top two leaders.