PEKAN, April 19 (Bernama) -- Students involved in the recent demonstration against the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans and demanding free higher education have been described as tools of the opposition out to pursue its agenda.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan said these students had allowed themselves to be used as tools by the opposition to go against the government as they failed to realise the noble intentions of the PTPTN loan scheme.
"The PTPTN was set up because we want to be fair to those students who are unable to bear the cost of higher education at the universities while the opposition is only interested in being populist."
He said this after a leader-meet-the-people programme and Juara Rakyat programme for the Pulau Manis state constituency, here, today.
"Those who want free higher education cannot compare Malaysia with other countries which can afford to do so as their governments bear the high cost by imposing very high income tax.
"And if our government writes off the PTPTN loans amounting to RM43 billion and provides free higher education, the country will not only go bankrupt but 500 private higher learning institutions will also be forced to close," he added.
On another note, Ahmad who is also Umno information chief, said candidates contesting in the coming 13th general election must have the characteristics of the people's champions, whether they are incumbents or new faces.
He said the current Juara Rakyat programme carried out in each parliamentary and state constituency would continue until the coming general election.
Also present at today's programme were Pulau Manis assemblyman Khairuddin Mahmud and Chini assemblyman Datuk Abu Bakar Harun.