Sul­tan Ibrahim Sul­tan Iskan­dar talks about his vi­sion to de­velop dream homes for the peo­ple of Jo­hor

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Ques­tion: How crit­i­cal is the is­sue of af­ford­able hous­ing in Jo­hor, es­pe­cially in Jo­hor Baru? An­swer: How crit­i­cal? I say it is very crit­i­cal. If pos­si­ble, we want to have a bal­ance (in op­por­tu­ni­ties to own homes) be­tween all the races liv­ing in the city.

This is so that there will be racial bal­ance, so that it will not be said later on that Jo­hor Baru is only for the Chi­nese. We are bring­ing (this con­cept) back. In fact, at the up­com­ing Corona­tion Square, we will pro­vide af­ford­able homes in the city.

Q: It is un­der­stood that in con­junc­tion with your birth­day cel­e­bra­tion, you will be mak­ing an im­por­tant an­nounce­ment on a Jo­hor hous­ing scheme for the peo­ple. Can you elab­o­rate?

A: I will not call it an af­ford­able hous­ing scheme. I am call­ing it “Rumah Impian Sul­tan Ibrahim” (Sul­tan Ibrahim Dream House), where it can be pur­chased by Jo­hore­ans.

I can nei­ther re­veal the price nor the de­sign un­til the un­veil­ing of the hous­ing project dur­ing its soft launch at Kota Raya in Jo­hor Baru tomorrow. I want all my sub­jects to be able to pur­chase the homes that I have en­vi­sioned un­der the Sul­tan Ibrahim Foun­da­tion.

The project will in­volve build­ing houses priced un­der RM100,000, the way I want it to be.

It will have fea­tures and “sur­prise” el­e­ments that I think my sub­jects would not ex­pect. The lo­ca­tions are close to the city area.

There will be a strin­gent se­lec­tion process among those who are ap­ply­ing to buy the homes.

But, there is a cri­te­rion that should be met first. For ex­am­ple, cou­ples with chil­dren and sin­gles with­out any in­her­i­tance may qual­ify for it.

How­ever, if any can­di­dates have a par­ent who owns a house, he or she is not el­i­gi­ble to pur­chase them as they will in­herit their par­ent’s house.

The one who can­not af­ford to buy a house, those who do not own a house and those from the low-in­come group are qual­i­fied to pur­chase the units.

Q: In the first phase of the hous­ing project, how many units are you propos­ing to de­velop?

A: In the first phase, I in­tend to de­velop 600 units, in­clud­ing landed bun­ga­lows and semi-de­tached homes in three sites lo­cated within 20 min­utes’ drive from the city cen­tre.

Where can you find bun­ga­lows and semi-de­tached units that are be­low RM100,000? This does not in­clude elec­tri­cal wiring that looks like spi­der webs. None. All man­holes? Clean.

Q: When you de­creed this idea, why did you think that this would be some­thing that the peo­ple need?

A: I have seen many hous­ing es­tates, all sorts with dif­fer­ent names. When I see these homes, I see dif­fer­ent de­signs and shapes that are built with­out any ap­proval from the au­thor­i­ties.

These houses were built in the past in congested es­tates with in­suf­fi­cient park­ing lots.

So, I want a place with enough park­ing spa­ces, where each home would have one lot to park their ve­hi­cle and a site for own­ers to leave their cars at a fee of be­tween RM3 and RM5 per month to have them guarded.

They (po­ten­tial res­i­dents) should not be stingy. If they can pay for their satel­lite tele­vi­sion ser­vice, I am sure they can af­ford RM3.

Q: In your opin­ion, could the hous­ing project be a so­lu­tion to the crit­i­cal is­sue?

A: If this Sul­tan Ibrahim Dream House project be­comes a re­al­ity across the coun­try, and if I get the fed­eral (gov­ern­ment’s) sup­port to build houses for the peo­ple na­tion­wide, I will do it with­out tak­ing a sin­gle sen of profit. Let the peo­ple have homes.

Q: How would you en­sure a bal­ance in the com­po­si­tion of those who are given the op­por­tu­nity to own these homes? A: Of course, I want peo­ple of all races to get the homes and not just Malays. It’s for Bangsa Jo­hor who qual­ify.

Q: Where did you source the funds for the project?

A: I have funds. I have about RM500 mil­lion of fi­nanc­ing from Bank Rakyat. And for this project, I would use about RM100 mil­lion from that amount.

Once I have used up RM100 mil­lion, I hope Bank Rakyat can pro­vide RM500 mil­lion more, with a low in­ter­est rate.

We would also be con­sid­er­ate on the fi­nanc­ing struc­ture for the own­ers and ad­just it ac­cord­ing to how much they earn. Those who earn more will prob­a­bly have to pay more so that they could set­tle their loans faster.

Q: Ac­cord­ing to your plans, would these houses be built in an ur­ban, subur­ban or ru­ral area?

A: It will not be too far from town, maybe 10 to 20 min­utes when there is no traf­fic jam. This will be a sur­prise be­cause I will be mak­ing a soft launch tomorrow and I ask the peo­ple to come and see for them­selves.

Q: Apart from houses that are be­low RM100,000, what are the dif­fer­ences be­tween the houses in this project and other af­ford­able homes?

A: The floor area will be about 1,100 sq ft for each home. (It will have) three rooms and one ser­vants’ quar­ters.

I will make sure these houses are of good qual­ity. The roof­ing trusses would not be made of wood, but in­stead, we will use gal­vanised steel.

The doors would not be made of cheap ply­wood, and it must be made of more durable ma­te­rial. I do not want to build low-qual­ity homes be­cause that would be em­bar­rass­ing. I want the peo­ple to be sat­is­fied with the qual­ity of the homes.

Q: Many are prob­a­bly won­der­ing whether the qual­ity matches the price.

A: God will­ing, I will bear the losses if there are any.

Q: When is the project tar­geted for com­ple­tion?

A: Af­ter the soft launch, I will have the ground­break­ing within a month or two, fol­lowed by the de­vel­op­ment, which will not take long to complete. I (will) visit this place reg­u­larly.

So, it is in ac­cor­dance with my re­quire­ment. I don’t like to see houses with fenc­ing. If it is a fenced-up house, that means our neigh­bour is not a good per­son.

I want a house that does not have any fenc­ing, if pos­si­ble. We can min­gle with neigh­bours, and chat in the evenings. Not like he is just the guy next door, or the guy liv­ing next to my house. There must be unity. That’s why I do not want fences. We must up­hold silatur­rahim, and be kind to one an­other.

Q: Do you think that the qual­ity of neigh­bourli­ness is de­clin­ing in our com­mu­nity?

A: I feel that it is, but not in Jo­hor. Jo­hore­ans are proud of the Bangsa Jo­hor iden­tity.

I do not only visit Malay vil­lages, I also visit Chi­nese and In­dian vil­lages. And, ev­ery time I hear them call out the slo­gan, I think the ef­fects of Bangsa Jo­hor have been in­stilled in them.

Q: What is the size of this hous­ing area?

A: The first project will be ap­prox­i­mately 60 acres. There is the land cost, not only the house. I will build shoplots to pay for the road in­fra­struc­ture. The shoplots will give some prof­its.

The floor area will be about 1,100 sq ft for each home.

(It will have) three rooms and one ser­vants’ quar­ters. I will make sure these houses are of good qual­ity.

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