Get­ting hous­ing al­lo­ca­tions right

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

SHEL­TER is a ba­sic need of hu­man be­ings. Al­though heads of house­holds are re­spon­si­ble to pro­vide shel­ter for their fam­i­lies, the gov­ern­ment has taken the re­spon­si­bil­ity of en­sur­ing that the poor peo­ple too have roofs over their heads.

All the three lev­els of gov­ern­ment, es­pe­cially state gov­ern­ment and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, play im­por­tant roles in pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate hous­ing. For ex­am­ple, land use and the in­ten­sity of use are un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, but change of land use and bound­aries need the ap­proval of land of­fices which are un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the state gov­ern­ment.

Un­for­tu­nately, de­vel­op­ment con­trol in Malaysia is not to­tally ef­fec­tive. Many lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are not able to gazette their draft lo­cal plans. Con­se­quently, apart from the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, many ap­pli­ca­tions for per­mis­sion to un­der­take land de­vel­op­ment have to be ap­proved by the state plan­ning com­mit­tee chaired by the chief min­is­ter or men­tri be­sar. The com­mit­tee com­prises state ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lors and se­nior state of­fi­cers.

State gov­ern­ments also build “low-cost” and “low-medium-cost” hous­ing to cater to the needs of the low-in­come fam­i­lies. These are gen­er­ally known as “af­ford­able hous­ing”.

There are two types of af­ford­able hous­ing. Type A low-cost houses are RM42,000 each. This cat­e­gory is for peo­ple whose in­come is not more than RM2,500 a month.

Type B low-medium-cost hous­ing costs RM72,000 each. This cat­e­gory is for peo­ple whose in­come is not more than RM3,500 a month.

The own­ers are not al­lowed to rent out their units. Nor are they al­lowed to use them for com­mer­cial pur­poses. In ad­di­tion, they are not al­lowed to sell them within 10 years.

There is a hous­ing depart­ment in the Pe­nang State Gov­ern­ment. One of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of its of­fi­cers is to en­sure that the al­lo­ca­tions of low-cost and low-medi­um­cost units are not abused. For ex­am­ple, peo­ple who al­ready own houses are not qual­i­fied to buy the low-cost or low-medium units.

There have been re­ports of the mis­use of low-cost and low-medium-cost units in Pe­nang.

Jagdeep Singh Deo, the Pe­nang ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lor in charge of hous­ing, told a press con­fer­ence: “I urge those who are aware of such abuses to lodge a com­plaint. In Pe­nang, we will not tol­er­ate those who abuse the sys­tem.”

So far, there has been no re­port about whether Jagdeep is aware of any mis­use of low-cost or low-medium-cost units in Pe­nang. But there is lit­tle doubt that he is aware of the ru­mours. Be­sides, a leader of Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM) had said in an English lan­guage daily that the rich are stay­ing at LMC (low-medium-cost) units.

Ac­cord­ing to him, there were ex­pen­sive cars and su­per­bikes parked at the LMC apart­ments in Bukit Glu­gor. Specif­i­cally, the su­per­bikes were a BMW Mo­tor­rad su­per­bike worth RM114,900, a Tri­umph Street Triple su­per­bike (RM53,900) and a KTM Ad­ven­ture su­per­bike (RM68,888).

The pres­ence of ex­pen­sive mo­tor ve­hi­cles was also briefly re­ported in Buletin Mu­tiara, a pub­li­ca­tion of the Pe­nang State Gov­ern­ment.

Jagdeep Singh, to­gether with his of­fi­cers in the State Hous­ing Depart­ment, should take steps to ver­ify the ac­cu­sa­tion of the PCM leader. If true, ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion should fol­low suit.

It is hoped that the hous­ing depart­ment of­fi­cers are able to pin­point the apart­ments that are oc­cu­pied by the so-called rich peo­ple.

How­ever, it may be wrong to jump to con­clu­sion that the ten­ants of the LMC have cheated based on what can be seen in the car park. It is pos­si­ble that the own­ers be­came rich af­ter stay­ing in the apart­ments. There is the pos­si­bil­ity that the chil­dren of poor Pe­nan­gites who have been liv­ing in the low­cost or low-medium-cost hous­ing have grad­u­ated and qual­i­fied as med­i­cal doc­tors, econ­o­mists, lawyers, or other pro­fes­sion­als, en­abling them to earn high salaries.

It should be noted that there are also many young Malaysians who are do­ing ex­cep­tion­ally well all over the world, such as in United King­dom, Ger­many and the United States.

The pres­ence of “rich” peo­ple liv­ing in low-cost or low-medium-cost units is not an in­di­ca­tion of bad al­lo­ca­tion of the apart­ments. If the chil­dren of the poor have be­come rich through higher ed­u­ca­tion, it is also a suc­cess of the hous­ing sys­tem. The res­i­dents of the low-cost or low-medium-cost hous­ing should be con­grat­u­lated and used as ex­am­ples of suc­cess sto­ries.

The pres­ence of “rich” peo­ple liv­ing in low-cost or low-medi­um­cost units is not an in­di­ca­tion of bad al­lo­ca­tion of the apart­ments.

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