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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Wan Saiful was appointed since no one wants the job, claimed Education Minister

Education Minister Maszlee Malik says the appointment of Wan Saiful Wan Jan as chairman of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) is a contingency measure to fulfil a pledge in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) election manifesto.

Maszlee also dismissed criticism of Wan Saiful being a political appointee.

He said Wan Saiful offered to assume the post for a limited period of time to fulfil one of PH’s promises relating to PTPTN within the first 100 days of the new government.

The PH manifesto pledged to remove PTPTN loan defaulters from the immigration travel ban blacklist and to suspend repayments by those earning below RM4,000 per month.

Yesterday, Wan Saiful said he had succeeded in “whitening” 429,945 PTPTN loan defaulters and had their names removed from the immigration blacklist since May 24.

However, the pledge on repayment suspension has been deferred pending an improvement in government finances.

Maszlee said before appointing Wan Saiful, he had contacted several individuals but they declined to take up the post.

“Once, the PTPTN post was seen as something prestigious and everyone wanted it, but now people are hesitant because we are very committed to fulfilling our promises,” he told reporters at a press conference in Putrajaya today.

“We know that many people are reluctant to repay their loans, so it is a very heavy responsibility to handle the post.

“When we tried to reach out to a few individuals, especially those with economic and financial backgrounds, they said no because they did not want to bear the burden.

“At the end of a discussion, Wan Saiful, who is also my special adviser,  stepped forward to do something to resolve the promises.”

Wan Saiful, the former founding CEO of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), was appointed on June 18 for a two-year term as PTPTN chairman.

Maszlee said Wan Saiful was willing to take the risk in the hot seat and should be given a chance to settle the promises made within the timeframe.

He said the post had become a burden for Wan Saiful because he was working in a contingency situation.

“In this situation, he has reached out to his friends in financial institutions for assistance and advice.

Maszlee said the PH government had pledged to lift the ban on PTPTN loan defaulters and must fulfil the promise, but he urged the borrowers to be responsible and to continue paying their dues.

“It is a responsibility to repay what you borrow. It’s our moral obligation. It doesn’t matter if we borrowed from PTPTN, banks, our parents or siblings – we have the moral responsibility to pay our debt.”

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