Umno’s Khairy Jamaluddin argues that PKR’s plan to abolish study loans could lead the nation to bankruptcy while PKR’s Rafizi insists that free higher education is financially sustainable.

I thought the moderator’s question to Khairy in ‘Part 2’ was ‘cheeky’, though of course most pertinent: “I believe it’s not that the students don’t want to repay their study loans, but when they look at Twitter, Facebook, the blogs and others, they see bigger debts incurred by certain personalities (he mentions cases linked to Tajudin and Shahrizat), but they are not blacklisted or blocked from leaving the country…. When small debtors are deemed to be offenders (contrasted with cases involving) large amounts of public money – is this some kind of privilege?”

Khairy, however, countered he is confident that Danaharta did not incur any losses in the Tajudin cases while the NFC chairman is being charged.

Rafizi made an important point: Initially until 2005, the bulk of the study loans went to public universities and colleges. But since 2005, higher education has become a commodity and the bulk of the PTPTN loans are going to private colleges, which have mushroomed all over the country. PTPTN has become the capital that has resulted in higher education becoming commoditised and burdensome to the rakyat, he said.

This is not far off the mark: some of the main beneficiaries of the PTPTN loans have been these private colleges while many of the students graduating from these college (think nursing college students) are finding it extremely difficult to find jobs.

Personally, I believe free or minimal cost (but good quality!) higher education at public universities is eminently possibly if the nation’s finances are prudently managed.

Rafizi hammered home a crucial point: it is a fallacy to assume that providing free education requires higher income tax rates. He drew a comparison with Finland, which provides top-class free education right up to PhD level: for taxable incomes in the upper bracket of RM200000 and above, Malaysia has a tax rate rate of 26 per cent; in Finland, it is 21.5 per cent.

It is all a matter of national priority – where you want to put your money: in submarines or in schools/universities. According to Rafizi, Malaysia’s higher education spending is only 0.83 per cent of GDP. Turkey which provides free education, spends around one per cent while Finland spends 1.6 per cent.

“The problem is in Malaysia, we put our money in big infrastructure projects – buildings, highways, etc,” says Rafizi.

The moderator, Maszlee Malik, did a splendid job in keeping the enthusiastic crowd of over 400 under control with his wry humour during the debate organised by Malay-language daily Sinar Harian. He thanked the the audience for their maturity and for keeping their emotions in check. “Until now, the chairs have not been lifted (from the ground),” he quipped. “We want to prove to those who are concerned about the culture of political debates – Malaysians are now mature.”

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Khairi gagal memberi fakta yg kukuh dalam perdebatan ini, jawapan yg lemah.
    Tahniah Rafizi kerana berjaya membuka minda saya terhadap PAKATAN.
    SAYA SOKONG PAKATAN BERMULA SAAT INI.

  2. Khairy, oh Khairy and the numbers of supporters he brought along to cheer him on. Perhaps the supporters were rented? LOL! There is no denying the fact that Khairy is an excellent orator, but, the fact is, what can he do to convince his superiors who is not listening to him? He can shout or debate his guts out, but, it is just not working!

    Rafizi, is surely one for the future! He had done much research on the above topics whereas, Khairy as usual, tried to use his oratory skills to sway the audience.

    In this debate, I must give the thumbs up for Rafizi, surely what he said is much more specific with regards to the evil of PTPTN ! And this is also one glaring weaknesses of the present quality of education, or the lack of quality in our education system, and the graduates it produces!

    Pity those who took loans from PTPTN, who are forced to repay their loans just months after graduating and many without a job. Yes, while those who rear cows and manage big companies with huge loans are going scot free. Thinking back, sometime back , we read about a party in the PKFZ scandal, who owed hundreds of millions in taxes allowing to roam free, while those owing less than 2,000 RM may be blacklisted from travelling overseas? Think about it, the law surely favouring the rich and very much against the lower strata of society?

    Well done Rafizi, Selamatkan Malaysia!

  3. Actually, if you make higher education free, then it is more appropriate to give away free lunch to each Malaysian. Yeah, it is real free lunch, for example 1 packet of nasi lemak biasa plus a cup of tea. Hmm, that seems very good for me.

    Free nasi lemak for all VS free higher education for selected few, which one do you like ??? I definitely pick nasi lemak option. But hey, I pay numerous taxes every year. It is time to get some return from it.

  4. These mouths can really talk!

    PTPTN is a problem, the problem, however, is the QUALITY of education, PTPTN amplify the magnitude of problem.

    If our education works, why most PTPTN takers can’t pay their loan? why so many SPM pupils with straight A, we still in deep …..? Why the law of minimum wages?. The only conclusion is ‘failed education’. Because it fails, these graduates could not survive their employability. Numbers of As in exams, became the only measurement of success in school. We neglect the vocational education, the heavy reliance of foreign workers on this, to a point, minimum wages needed to fence off our local from further invasion.

    Why it failed so misery? PTPTN is the catalyst; it promotes the industrialization of education. Education operates in automated ‘conveyor belt’ style. Rafizi points that as ‘mendagangkan pendidikan’, that is where the money ended up. You get into the ‘conveyor belt’ education , you signed the documents, money gets into where it should, after ‘education’ was done and you pay the price.

    To resolve PTPTN issues, the easy way is make PTPTN like free satay in an open house, nobody complaints. But, is ‘free education’ helps in term of QUALITY of education? Sometime, ‘free’ could means paying without knowing it and the price.

    Finland is not M’sia because their education WORKS, not because it is FREE. Education need to WORK first, then ‘FREE’ probably a given. Is given! that is real free!.

    It is our sub-prime crisis of education; investment that fails its ROI.

    • Yes, good point about the quality of education. We are so accustomed to seeing things in terms of ringgit and sen.

    • Yes, good point about the quality of education. We are so accustomed to seeing things in terms of ringgit and sen.

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