PTPTN ‘threat’ on travel ban probably a misunderstanding, says Maszlee

Education Minister Maszlee Malik.

GEORGE TOWN: The warning by the government that it may reintroduce a travel ban on National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) defaulters is probably a misunderstanding, Education Minister Maszlee Malik said.

This comes after PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan had reportedly said the blacklisting of defaulters is an option “if the people were up for it”.

“Did he (Wan Saiful) say that? What I understand is PTPTN has started a public consultation session to see their response on a few matters.

“It (blacklisting) is not their proposal. The reporter asked a question and he (Wan Saiful) had answered that way.

“However, PTPTN ought to explain so that there would not be a misunderstanding in the future,” Maszlee told reporters here today.

PTPTN had decided to do away with the travel ban in March. However, Wan Saiful was reported to have said yesterday there were proposals to bring it back but it would require the nod of the parliament.

The public consultation will be held between now and June 13 to gather ideas for a better repayment scheme and how to keep PTPTN’s loans sustainable.

Wan Saiful said PTPTN’s cancellation of the travel ban had benefitted 400,000 borrowers but his statement drew flak from those who had promptly repaid their loans.

A PTPTN official had said the travel ban was the most effective way to ensure defaulters settle their dues. The official said 332,000 borrowers had yet to settle their debts.

While the reintroduction of the travel ban is being floated, other measures being considered following PTPTN’s discussion with stakeholders include barring defaulters from renewing their passports, driving licences and motor vehicle road taxes.

The proposed blacklisting has drawn criticism from PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, who said defaulters ought to be given time and space to repay their loans.

Penang exco member and PKR assemblyman Dr Afif Bahardin also said the travel ban should not be considered at all.

The latest controversy follows a move last December to deduct payment from the salaries of borrowers as the corporation is empowered to do under the PTPTN Act 1997.