Thursday, October 19, 2006

PTPTN and Our Towering Mistake

Yesterday I got a bit worked up and decided to write two opinions for the Star's Opinion page. These two are of several issues I take seriously. Scholarships and Conservation. The first entails of my fruitless quest (believe me calling their phone line often is futile and unanswered) in getting aid from PTPTN and when I decided to turn into a good little citizen and dutifully pay my debts to society, I get bitten instead. My first grouse is with PTPTN our national fund for higher education which often tout themselves as the student's saviour by extending cheap loans at 4% to needy students for pursuit of higher education, a noble goal and one much lauded. Certainly the RM3,500 per semester is a great help, it relieves the burden parents have of sending monthly cash to students and also afford some modicum of liquid cash flow to pay off expendiatures such as food, books and daily neccessities not to mention some bit of luxury such as hand phones, motorcycles and the likes.

As mentioned in the letter, it seems I have been screwed by this oh so 'charitable' foundation leaving me high in debt by a single change in rules without prior notification. If you read the news, lately many people have been questioning why PTPTN is charging all the extra 'administrative costs' when technically it should just charge 4% over the total loan with repayment spanning over 15 years. It is seriously no wonder that many are taking the option of repaying by lump sum and paying cash to their parents instead (who must have dug into their EPF or savings for this) rather than letting money flow into the void that is now the cash strapped PTPTN. I really wonder if they are trying to help students or are they more in it for the profit else they are so desperate to recapitalize that they penalize abiding payers instead of defaulters. Sometimes I emphatize with those that skip their payments, if I get sucked dry like this I would consider that option, but the money will be used to fund more students and for that I think I'll pay them off even if it's a rip off.

The second is my constant concern about the state of conservation for Malaysia's cultural, natural and historical heritage. No matter what Rais Yatim is saying, our efforts are akin more to degrading our heritage rather than conserving and re-invigorating them. The latest folly must be the audacious proposition to build a tower in the heart of Melaka's cultural enclave. Maybe they're thinking they can erase our past colonial masters by staking a giant 'Malay Keris' into what must be a colonial administrative center. Surely Hang Tuah's Taming Sari will right centuries of foreign rule in Melaka and reclaim it for our Bangsa Melayu, is what some quarter believe. I feel that the public must make themselves vocal to show that we Malaysian do care about how the government treat conservation in our country and if we keep silent, then we are going to lose it more and more. We need more victories such as the effort to save the Coliseum. It would be folly for the government to think that they can brush what are real concerns from citizens, we all have a stake in our country and should have a say about it as well. Here are the two unedited opinions if the Star decided not to publish them.

PTPTN changes rules without notification

I was lucky enough to obtain a PTPTN loan for my undergrad studies and it really helped to supplement expenditures while studying for my undergrad course and I am thankful towards PTPTN. Yet even with this latest grouse, disregarding the numerous past problems like delayed payment, loss agreements and such, I was not going to skip my monthly payment. Problems began when I decided to pursue my masters degree and when enquiring at the PTPTN counter was told that payment can be differed for the duration of two years while I am still studying. Regretfully even after sending my differment letter twice (the first they said wasn't received) I was still constantly billed for my monthly repayment in addition to the administrative charges (which amounted to nearly RM190). Repeated calls to their office was not helpful and only yesterday was I told by an operator that they have approved my differment but that administrative costs will still be applied. I cannot understand the sudden change in policy without any notice and so the accumulated payment in addition to the late repayment interest increased my RM17,500 loan to a staggering RM22,000 as of now. I think it is unfair to punish those that wish to study further and is without means of a job to repay their loan and I hope that PTPTN will look into this matter. No wonder people are opting to pay a lump sum rather than face the "additional" costs not stated when signing the initial agreement. If I've known better I wouldn't even have applied for funds.

Towering Mistake

Building a modern tower in the heart of old Melaka must surely be a big mistake. It's akin to a 'keris' piercing though the very fabric that makes Melaka the historical city it is. Whereas people would have no objections to development, there must surely be a limit when such incompatible development such as an observation tower, which from the looks of the model looks too out of place and does not harmoniously blend into its surrounding, should be reconsidered as public opinion is surely against such a venture. It is even more callous to blame Melaka and Penang's joint listing into UNESCO's heritage list for biased standards and criteria rather than facing some introspection at what we are doing wrong. If so how could Asian countries like the Philippines have several listings under the world body? Instead of tearing down our heritage and erecting unsightly edifices the money could well be spent elsewhere for real conservation purposes. Don't let examples of reckless modernity and redevelopment for cheap tourist attractions like the Masjid India walkway and bazaar be repeated else we lose more of our ever diminishing cultural treasures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading both pieces they were both well written you should be proud