Head of govt’s study loan scheme tells how some PH leaders made his job difficult

PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan says government leaders must not send confusing signals to the public.

PETALING JAYA: The head of the government’s study loan scheme has warned leaders of the new government against sending mixed signals, relating his personal experience of having to manage conflicting statements on policy issues under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in his task to revamp the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN).

PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan said he expected leaders from the present Perikatan Nasional coalition, comprising former PH leaders and their old enemies from Barisan Nasional, to share their views on various policies.

“But we must be careful not to send confusing signals to the public and the market,” he added.

The management of PTPTN and the billions of ringgit worth of study loans owed by Malaysians over the years were among the focuses of the PH election manifesto.

It had promised among others to allow borrowers with a salary of less than RM4,000 a month to defer repayment.

Wan Saiful said his job at PTPTN was made difficult by leaders giving differing views, adding that it showed the government had no direction.

“Ministers were at each other’s throats, parties were fighting with each other,” he told FMT.

“There were those who wanted to comment on everything under the sun, speaking to the media or posting on social media before discussing the issues within their party and with coalition members.”

He said this was the case when PTPTN submitted its proposal to the Cabinet in late 2018 on a repayment mechanism for billions of ringgit in study loans.

“Before it was relayed to PTPTN, the minister took to social media to talk about it.

“This made things look messy. Comments on policy proposals are okay but members of the government should communicate internally,” he said.

Wan Saiful also said any policy announcement should be made only after a collective agreement.

He said there were now ideas and suggestions “being bandied about” on the way forward for PTPTN, given that the new government was not restricted by PH’s manifesto.

He revealed that in PH’s final days in power, he had submitted a proposal for a new repayment mechanism to the Cabinet.

“Essentially, what we were looking at was an overhaul of how PTPTN repayments were made.”