According to the hansard, Lim Kit Siang and his son Guan Eng even proposed for a higher starter fund.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Parliament's hansard showed DAP Adviser Lim Kit Siang and his son Guan Eng had supported the bill of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), when it was tabled in the parliament in 1997.
The hansard, dated 14 May, 1997 stated that, Kit Siang and Guan Eng had both proposed that a higher allocation be provided for the PTPTN instead of RM100 million startup as proposed in the bill.
The hansard reads: "(Tuan Lim Kit Siang [Tanjong]: Tuan Yang di-Pertua, saya mengalu-alukan Rang Undang Undang Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional untuk memperuntukkan satu tabung bagi membenarkan anak-anak kita berpeluang melanjutkan pendidikan tinggi dan menyediakan bantuan kewangan melalui pinjaman pendidikan atau selainnya kepada pelajar yang menuntut di institusi-institusi pengajian tinggi.(Tuan Lim Kit Siang [Tanjong]: Tuan Yang di-Pertua, I welcome the Bill of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) to provide the opportunity for our children to pursue higher education and provide financial assistance through loans or otherwise to the education of students who are studying in institutions of higher learning.")
The hansard had stated that Kit Siang had said that the RM100 million startup allocation for the PTPTN as contained in the bill was insufficient and it should be increased to RM500 million.
His son Guan Eng was reported in the hansard of proposing a higher quantum than that by his father.
Guan Eng, was recorded as saying: "RM100 million is not enough. If the government is really sincere, they should consider to start at least with the amount of RM1 billion".
The bill was then tabled by Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak who was the Minister of Education.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who had raised issue with the PTPTN and had promised to abolish it if the opposition takes over the nation's rule, was the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister when the bill was tabled in 1997.
In fact, he was the acting Prime Minister then.
This was pointed out by Dr Mahathir who said he was on a two-month leave when the bill was tabled and Anwar was then the acting Prime Minister.
Dr Mahathir in a Bernama report, said: "That is Anwar. He doesn't know what is he talking about; he is forgetful".
Blogger Ruang Bicara Faisal pointed out that Anwar held the post of acting Prime Minister from May 19 until July 26 1997, adding that Anwar should have cancelled the plan to establish the fund if he had doubts about it.
"At that time Anwar had the power as a Finance Minister who gives approval to PTPTN to start the operation, he also had the power as a Deputy Prime Minister and more importantly, he had the power as the acting Prime Minister. Even Dr Mahathir had said that Anwar had the full authority as a Prime Minister.
"And now he tries to influence the public that the PTPTN is a cruel act?," the blogger said.
Anwar's promise to abolish the PTPTN had led to a group of university students from the Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia to organise a demonstration at Dataran Merdeka last Saturday.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, as reported by Bernama, said students involved in the demonstration should repay the loan to prove that they do not want the PTPTN loan scheme.
"Universiti Selangor (Unisel), owned by the PKR-led Selangor state government, must also declare whether the PTPTN should be abolished," he said.