Sarawak Patriot Association chairman Datuk John Lau Pang Heng

KUCHING: It is unfair to impose travel ban on borrowers who defaulted on their repayments for loans taken from the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional – PTPTN).

This was a viewpoint of Sarawak Patriots Association (SPA) president Datuk John Lau Pang Heng in response to a recent statement by PTPTN deputy CEO Mastura Mohd Khalid who said that a travel ban was the most successful measure to recover PTPTN loans from defaulters.

“They also suggested that PTPTN loan defaulters should not be allowed to renew their driving licences, road tax, passports and business licences. If this is done, would it be against human rights?

Sarawak Patriot Association chairman Datuk John Lau Pang Heng

“A student taking a loan from PTPTN may be doing his own business and if his or her business licence can’t be renewed, how can he/she repay the loan?” he asked.

He then recalled Pakatan Harapan’s 14th general election manifesto promise No 50 which stated, “PH realises that PTPTN loans have now become a burden to students. We will overhaul the repayment structure of PTPTN loans so that the total repayment will be based on the borrower’s salary. We will undertake to delay the loan repayment for those who earn less than RM4,000 per month and repeal the practice of black listing borrowers who are unable to repay their loans.”

He then said that borrowers are encouraged to make repayments based on their monthly salaries, but it is not sensible for the corporation to suggest banning their overseas travel, and stopping them from renewing their driving licences, trade licences or passports.

“SPA is very perturbed that PTPTN made such a suggestion during the economic downturn in the country. Their borrowers may be confused by such a suggestion.

“Every citizen will pay back the loan they have taken. No one is running away. The loans in Bangladesh introduced by Steven Covey for petty traders were repaid too. What more to say PTPTN students who have received good education?” he said.

Lau therefore urged PTPTN to come up with a scheme to allow PTPTN students to make repayments based on their salaries/incomes.

“Maybe deduct five per cent of their monthly salaries. However, for those who receive less than RM4,000 per month, PTPTN needs to conduct competency-based training so that they can earn more than RM4,000 monthly. We need to move forward like a big family,” he stressed.

He also encouraged the Education Ministry to implement a module in the living skills subject concerning taking loans and loans repayment.

“During difficult times, students are advised to inform PTPTN and not stay silent. SPA felt that our country needs a long-term education plan to include the use of social media, loans and loans repayment, ethics and upholding integrity in whatever we do.”