Friday, April 9, 2010

Travel Ban Lifted


Chris Reubens
Friday, 09 April 2010 00:00

PETALING JAYA – Sandy Lai is one happy lady after learning that she has won her "freedom" back.

The former college student who was barred from going overseas by the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) for purportedly not settling her loan is now free to travel without restrictions.

The corporation's public relations officer, Noora Md Yusoff, told Malaysian Mirror that it discovered the blacklisting error after conducting an internal investigation.

"As an immediate step, we have removed the former student's name from the blacklist on April 7.

Show in black and white
Yong (left) helping Lai sort through the paperwork on her case last week.

"At the same time, we are seeking to recover the full amount of loan purportedly disbursed for the ex-student from the parties involved," she said, adding that the corporation would like to apologise to Lai for the trouble caused.

Lai, when contacted by the Mirror, said she was delighted with the latest development in the long-running case that was first highlighted by the news portal last week.

"I am very happy to hear that. (Pending assemblywoman) Violet (Yong) has told my sister who informed me this (yesterday) afternoon.

"However, I want to see the letter in black and white before I believe PTPTN again," she said.

Loan that never was

Lai had approached Pending state assemblywoman Violet Yong for help when the problem first cropped up.

The 28-year-old woman from Sibu had applied for a RM15,000 loan from the corporation in 2001 when she was studying Computer Science at Chermai College in Kuching.

She, however, did not receive the approved loan during her two years of studies. Her education was funded by an elder sister.

In 2003, Lai completed the course and was shocked to find a letter from the corporation the next year asking her to settle her loan.

Lai and her sister then approached the college, which admitted it had received the loan of RM15,000 from the corporation. The college agreed to pay back the corporation by instalment.

Yong said Lai thought that was the end of the matter but each year, the lender would send her a letter, telling her to settle the loan.

College closed in 2008

Yong then helped Lai by getting the college and the lender to agree to update their records in the hope such letters would stop being issued. It didn't, and Lai chose to ignore the reminders.

On Feb 19 this year, she received a letter from the legal department of the corporation informing her that she has been barred from travelling overseas. Lai said she had to go abroad in two months' time.

Yong said the college has since closed in 2008.

The assemblywoman had threatened to bring the issue up at the state legislative assembly if the corporation could not resolve the dispute.

Help appreciated

Lai expressed gratitude to Yong for solving her case.

She said the problem had caused mental anguish since it began, adding that she had never owed people or even her friends' money.

"I felt I was very unfairly treated and it was a burden for me to bear all these years. I hope other students would not be facing such problems like me," she said.

Lai said she was repaying the loan from her sister in stages.

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