KUALA LUMPUR: Shame on you, said the Prime Minister to defaulters of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation loans.
“We have accumulated RM36bil in unpaid PTPTN loans. I am ashamed but they (loan defaulters) are not.
“They are earning an income, they can really pay but they just don’t feel like paying,” said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during an event at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia here.
“Sometimes, we find in Malaysia that people are not so very trustworthy. For example, we provide them with scholarships for their education, we give money for them to study so that they can earn a better income to improve their lives.
“They get to study at universities in the country or abroad on the scholarships we gave them – loans actually – but, unfortunately, when they come back they don’t want to repay the loans,” said Dr Mahathir.
He added that even those earning a monthly income of RM2,000 should be committed to repaying about RM100 a month.
As for students, he told them not to take a laidback attitude in life.
“Working hard won’t kill you. It doesn’t mean that if you work hard you will die tomorrow.
“You will die if you eat too much,” he quipped.
Dr Mahathir took a swipe at the former Barisan Nasional government’s goal of turning Malaysia into a high-income nation.
“There was an idea being spread that the most important thing was becoming a high-income nation where everybody will be paid a high income.
“High income doesn’t mean anything. It is your purchasing power that is important,” he said.
He cited the example of workers in some countries being paid millions in “rupiah or lira”, yet they do not have purchasing power.
During the lecture, Dr Mahathir also spoke about his proposal for Japan to set up a university branch campus in Malaysia and the importance of learning Japanese values.
He said Malaysia was a good location for the setting up of a branch campus because its costs were lower compared with Japan.
“If you have a Japanese university here, you can provide Japanese education together with the understanding of the Japanese culture and value system, and the cost of living will be much less, so more people will benefit from it,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said he was convinced Malaysia could be successful like Japan if Malaysians possessed the same Japanese value system such as feeling shameful for inability to deliver, apart from positive attributes, such as being trustworthy and hardworking.
During his visit to Japan in June, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia and Japan would revive and upgrade the Look East Policy to deepen collaboration and strengthen business competitiveness for both countries.
Introduced in 1982 by Dr Mahathir, the Look East Policy’s principal goal was to shift the focus of relation from the West towards the new rising Asia, specifically Japan, and help drive industrialisation in Malaysia.