"Conversation at the Convo"
"You know, my student had to abandon his studies just two weeks before the end of the semester because the PTPTN loan was late," CLL told me.
"Really?" Please give me a break! Should I be answerable for everything that the UMNO go-men did or didn't do? I learnt later from another student that she had to pay a MYR10 fine for late payment.
"You know, two of my nieces married Chinese guys, and one of them had his university education financed by his clan association," I blurted, trying to shift her locus of blame.
"SO," CLL turned and asked me, "he must be rich for your niece to marry him?"
"No, actually, it's my brother-in-law who is well-off; his S-I-L came from a lower middle class family" (a 'sinkhek', my late mother would disdainfully termed him, to distinguish him from the Straits-born Babas and Nyonyas that her family would approve and fraternise with). "And when he failed his exams during his second year of studies at a UK university, my B-I-L financed his education til he graduated. In fact, my B-I-L financed their wedding, first home, family car, business venture, etc. (as he did for all his three SILs)."
"Hmm... he must be handsome then?"
"I would consider him above average in terms of looks."
After a few awkward moments, she said: "But you all can get scholarships from the government."
"Not all of us. I know of Malay parents who applied for PTPTN loans and their children got 9 or 10As. In fact, I would rather use my own savings to finance my children's education so that the allocation would go to the poor farmers' and fishermen's children."