The subsidy can provide relief, especially for Sabah and Sarawak students who were not able to return home during festive holidays and semester breaks due to soaring flight ticket prices.
KUALA LUMPUR — The subsidy initiative for public university students, worth RM300 for the purchase of flight tickets for domestic routes not only eases the financial burden of the family but also makes it easier for students to return to their hometowns during certain seasons.
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) student representative council president, Fatin Amirah Mohd Hisham said to some extent the subsidy provided a relief for students and allowed them to return home during semester breaks, adding that many Sabah and Sarawak students chose not to go home during festive seasons and semester breaks due to soaring flight ticket prices.
“These complaints are from my friends and many were also conveyed to the student representative council.
“They (students) have to work and raise money every semester just to buy tickets.
“If it is not enough, then they will not return home,” she told Bernama.
Much Needed Assistance
Therefore, she said, despite being just a one-off assistance, the initiative was much needed by students, especially those from the B40 category, in time with the semester break that will start soon.
“We understand that it is not easy for the government to spend RM16.8 million for the benefit of more than 56,000 students.
“However, such initiatives…to some extent can ease the burden on students and their families,” she said when asked about the subsidy for the purchase of flight tickets for domestic routes between Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan, which will begin on Aug 15.
On Wednesday (July 12), Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the initiative would be implemented through a credit shell, where participating airlines would issue a digital voucher worth RM300 to each eligible student to redeem for purchasing flight tickets for domestic routes.
Fatin Amirah suggested the government should refine the implementation of the subsidy to prevent eligible students from missing out on the benefit due to their confusion.
“The government…has heard our grievances that have been brought up for a long time.
“I hope this initiative will be long-lasting and not just one-off assistance, she added.
Examine The Mechanism Of Distributing Subsidy
Meanwhile, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) Sabah Patriot Club president, Muhammad Harith Fauzan Mohd Faudzi said that although the subsidy could not cover the price of flight tickets, at least it allows students to save.
He said students have been struggling to cover their daily expenses without having to raise money to buy flight tickets to return home.
“At UUM, if you look at the shops here, many of the park-time workers are students from Sabah and Sarawak.
“They take the initiative to raise money to buy tickets as money provided under PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation) loans is not enough,” he said.
Muhammad Harith Fauzan said the government should examine the mechanism of distributing the subsidy to students who need to take more than one flight to reach their final destination, such as those students who might have to take a flight from Alor Setar, Kedah to Kuala Lumpur first, before taking another flight to their hometowns.
The government should also create a special fund to help students immediately return to their respective hometowns in the event of an emergency such as the death of a close family member, he added. — Bernama