KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 – Malaysians who borrow money for their education and fail to pay back are “untrustworthy”, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
He slammed the tens of thousands who had defaulted on their loans obtained from the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), saying he was ashamed of them for their irresposibility has resulted in unpaid loans totalling RM36 billion, Bernama reported.
Mahathir said this in a talk given to Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) staff here today.
“We have accumulated RM36 billion in unpaid loans to PTPTN. I am ashamed, but they are not. They are earning an income, they can really pay but they just don’t feel like paying,”
“These Malaysians are people who are not trustworthy. We provide them scholarships, we give money for them to study so that they can earn a better income to improve their lifestyle.
“They study at universities in the country or abroad on the scholarships we’ve given to them, loans actually, but, unfortunately, when they come back they don’t want to repay the loans,” he was quoted as saying by the national news agency.
Mahathir: Borrowers have no sense of responsibility
The prime minister said he was ashamed with this kind of attitude because the borrowers did not have a sense of responsibility when they were trusted with something.
“PTPTN borrowers who had the capacity to repay their loans must be more responsible in settling their debts despite earning a low income.
“Even those who earn a monthly income of RM2,000 should be committed to spending about RM100 a month to repay their loans,” Mahathir was quoted as saying.
KJ: Mahathir contradicting PH promise on PTPTN
However, in an immediate response, former youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin criticised the prime minister, saying that Pakatan Harapan had promised to allow for borrowers to defer their repayments.
In a message on Twitter, the Rembau MP also questioned the RM2,000 income level stated by Mahathir, saying that after taking over the government, PH had declared that borrowers need only pay if their salary reaches RM4,000 per month.
“Don’t be ashamed sir. They are not supposed to repay (the loans) until their monthly income reaches RM4,000 a month.”
He was referring to the Pakatan Harapan government’s pledge to postpone the repayment of PTPTN loans for all graduates whose salaries are below RM4,000.
“Plus, many of those who were ‘blacklisted’ were taken off the list by your government.”
Though the full implementation on this new guideline has yet to be worked out, the government has taken loan defaulters off the immigration blacklist.