A promise kept

Abang Johari (right) taking a look at one of the buses as Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas (second right) gives a thumbs-up. Photo: Ukas

Sarawak to help students repay PTPTN arrears

KUCHING: True to its word, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government will help its students repay the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan which is in arrears.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said RM30 million has been set aside for the loan repayment.

He said talks between Yayasan Sarawak and PTPTN have been completed and a formula has been agreed upon.

“This means that our government has taken into consideration the needs of our students and this involves a relatively large allocation,” he told a press conference after handing over two buses donated by the state government to Mukah Polytechnic and Metro Betong Polytechnic at Wisma Bapa Malaysia, here on Monday (Jan 18).

Abang Johari (centre) and (from second left) Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Law, State-Federal Relationship and Project Monitoring) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali; State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion; Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas; and Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah in a group photo with the two buses handed over from the state government to Politeknik Mukah and Politeknik Metro Betong at the Wisma Bapa Malaysia compound on Monday (Jan 18). Photo: Ukas

Abang Johari said the state government allocated RM30 million as it felt that Sarawak’s current transformation would boost the development of the state’s economy.

When contacted, Yayasan Sarawak said this incentive would assist students in settling 30 percent of their debt balance with PTPTN, adding that this would involve 9,634 students.

With regard to the buses, the state government had spent an estimated RM600,000 to purchase the two buses with a capacity of 25 passengers each for the use of students and activities at Politeknik Mukah and Politeknik Metro Betong.

Following the requests of students during the town hall session ‘Berambeh ngan Abang Jo’ in conjunction with the ‘Today for Tomorrow (T4T) Carnival on Jul 6, 2019 in Mukah and Dec 15, 2019 in Betong, the chief minister agreed to contribute two buses for the use of the two polytechnics.

“So today, I have fulfilled our promise to provide these buses for ease of mobility for our students,” he told the press conference.

Speaking of other assistances provided to Sarawakian students, he said the state government had assisted in bearing the costs for Sarawakian students studying at institutions of higher learning in West Malaysia to return to Sarawak during the festive seasons.

Abang Johari said the state government had also taken the initiative to provide free school bus services to students to ease the burden on their parents’ expenses. This service is managed by Yayasan Sarawak.

“This has been implemented first in the Kuching area and will be expanded to other urban centres in Sarawak. This service will certainly have a positive impact on our students,” he said.

On pre-school education, the chief minister said Tadika Sedidik, which was previously under the management of the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), had been taken over by the state government through the Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Ministry to ensure that pre-school education in Sarawak was more organised and structured.

Abang Johari speaks to the press as Fatimah look on. Photo: CMO