PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today the heavily-criticised National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) new repayment scheme will be “modified”.
A revised version of the income contingent loan repayment (ICLR) scheme will be announced soon, he told reporters after chairing a meeting of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council today. He is chairman of the coalition.
Yesterday, Education Minister Maszlee Malik suspended the new repayment scheme to obtain “collective input and feedback from all stakeholders”.
The suspension came a day after the scheme was announced by PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan.
Under the proposed new mechanism, borrowers earning RM2,000 and above will have 2-15% of their salaries deducted to repay their student loans.
The new scheme was immediately criticised by borrowers who flooded the fund’s Facebook page with complaints and pleas for reconsideration, saying the repayment mechanism is unfair and a breach of their existing contracts. Some borrowers will be forced to pay RM1,200 monthly under the scheme.
Mahathir acknowledged the education ministry did not get feedback before coming up with the scheme.
“For us to ask 33 million people is difficult, but we take into consideration the negative reaction we have received,” he said.
Asked if the fiasco over the repayment scheme was a reflection of the poor performance of both Maszlee and Wan Saiful as leaders, Mahathir said there were times when the unexpected happened.
“We didn’t expect PH to win (in the May 9 polls). We are only human and have weaknesses, but we are sorry.”
Asked on criticisms that his administration is a “U-turn government”, Mahathir said one only “U-turns” if one was going the wrong way.
“So we turn around, but only if it’s necessary,” he said.