By Maclean Patrick
The quick reversal by the Higher Education Minister over the PTPTN freeze on UNISEL is comical and speaks of a government that is at the mercy of their own ministers. It is amazing that a decision to freeze public funds meant for student education loans can easily and simply be frozen by a minister, by-passing the ministry’s own administrative processes. One can but question, how decisions are made with ministries in Malaysia.
Further compounding the issue is the apparent endorsement of the action by the Deputy Prime Minister, who deemed the action as fair. Yet, any right minded, educated and civilised person can see that the whole idea of freezing education loans just to test the state’s resilience in offering free education as totally un-fair and down-right ridiculous! BN forms government and government is to serve the people and NOT the political ideals of BN especially with regards to their relationship with Pakatan Rakyat. What then can we say about tax-money collected in Selangor that goes to the federal coffers? Should we now segregate the monies paid, to categorize them according to political affiliations and projects?
That aside, it is right that Selangor maintains an education fund that can be used to draw money to support their free education initiative. If the processes involve in offering free education works in Selangor, it can be up-scale to work for the nation. The RM30 million should then be on stand-by, you never know when the BN government may want to pull another ‘deep freeze’ stunt.
Again, it must be pointed out that the whole idea of freezing public funds deemed for education loans is unconstitutional. The Higher Education Minister must take time off to read the Federal Constitution of Malaysia before thinking that he could pass a decision, like that he did on Wednesday.
Article 12 of the Federal Constitution which is specific to Rights in Respect to Education:
12. (1) Without prejudice to the generality of Article 8, there shall be no discrimination against any citizen on the grounds only of religion, race, descent or place of birth— (a) in the administration of any educational institution maintained by a public authority, and, in particular, the admission of pupils or students or the payment of fees; or (b) in providing out of the funds of a public authority financial aid for the maintenance or education of pupils or students in any educational institution (whether or not maintained by a public authority and whether within or outside the Federation).
Thus, the Higher Education Minister must apologize to the Malaysian public, for passing such a cruel decision and also for his own ignorance towards the Federal Constitution.