KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 (TMI) — The Selangor government has already liquidated assets owned by University Selangor (Unisel) to help pay for its students’ fees despite Putrajaya’s reversing its freeze on federal loans for those studying in the state university.
The Malaysian Insider understands that the RM30 million generated by the liquidation exercise will now be used to develop the state-owned university, as Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim’s administration plans to buy over the university’s hostel buildings.
Khalid’s political secretary, Faekah Husin, described the sale as part of a “development plan” that will help lessen the burden of students who currently have to pay to stay at the hostel grounds.
“The instruction to start the process of liquidation has already been given to the State Financial Officer (SFO) last Thursday after Selangor’s economic action council meeting,” she told The Malaysian Insider.
“We plan to buy back the hostel, which was built on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) privatisation arrangement… the university is now facing huge overhead costs- facilities and maintaining hostels due to the BOT.
“This will definitely impact the schools and [tuition] fees. With RM30 million, we intend to buy back the building in order to cut costs (for the university),” said Faekah.
Khalid said last week the assets were accrued following the restructuring of debts belonging to Talam Corporation.
On June 9, the federal government reversed its move to suspend National Higher Education Corporation (PTPTN) loans for Selangor-owned universities after it drew fierce criticism from Pakatan Rakyat politicians who were joined by some Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders fearing a political backlash.
It came just days after the freeze was first announced and a day after Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin defended as a “fair test” the move seen as aimed at laying bare PR’s campaign for free university education.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin yesterday insisted the reason the PTPTN loan freeze on Unisel was lifted was because the university disagreed with PR policies.
PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli said he was confident the state government would have been able to pay for the education of the university students affected had Putrajaya decided to prolong the loan freeze.
“You can say that we are prepared to go all the way because higher education is a key nation building issue that warrants everyone’s utmost attention.
“Frankly speaking, we don’t have a script or plan, so to speak, to corner Barisan Nasional on this issue, but we will certainly spearhead to make sure that the engagement on PTPTN and free education remains one of the topmost issue discussed in the public sphere,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Rafizi said PR is planning to use this issue as a “major campaign thrust” as feedback from university students on the matter has been positive so far.
“I am going down from one campus to [another] consistently and the response has been good. The new generation of students is willing to think and ponder on some alternatives that we throw.”