KUALA LUMPUR: Student activist Fahmi Zainol has taken issue with Prime Minister Najib Razak’s statement that Malaysians who have higher academic qualifications are unlikely to struggle with higher living costs.
Fahmi, who is the chairman of the Angkatan Muda Keadilan (AMK) students’ bureau, said there were many qualified and skilled graduates who could not land a job equal to their qualifications.
“The prime minister’s statement has made Malaysian youth uneasy, especially students. About 107,000 graduates are still unemployed and 21% graduates work at positions below their qualifications.”
Fahmi accused the government of cutting off opportunities for higher education to the youth by “merchandising education” and cutting the education budget.
“It was the government itself that closed off opportunities for youth to get higher education. The government has cut education spending for two years in a row, slashing it by RM2.4 billion in 2016.
“The government has also reduced its PTPTN loans by 15-25% in 2016. The government has also cut scholarships, bursaries, and education aid by RM812 million in 2016.
“Mara education loans have still not been opened for the 2015/2016 session. This means that students have not received any aid from Mara for almost two years.”
Fahmi said the main cause of higher living costs among the youth was not their lack of qualifications and skills, but government policies that “pressure the youth, such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and job opportunities that do not match their skills and qualifications”.