One of the fundamental duty of a responsible Government is to provide adequate, comfortable and affordable homes to its citizens. When one speaks of housing policies, many factors come into play, inter alia:
1. Size of the house
2. Environment (many “taman perumahan” are not only not tamans but not even reseidential in nature.
3. Price of the house – affordable and fair.
4. Availability of Financing and the cost of financing
5. “racial makeup” of the residents,
6. placement and role of places of worship in residential areas (unique to Malaysia)
7. Availability of the local, friendly grocery store (as opposed to mega malls!)
8. Exit and entry routes including infrastructural support.
I must confess that I have never been happy with the housing policy (if there is one) thus far. I say this from my observation of the manner in which houses are built in this country with complete or no regard for future developments around the area. One gets the feeling that somewhere along the way, the main criteria was profits and “under table” for all those who are linked to the housing industry. There are many, many low-cost houses that are abandoned (terbengkalai) where the literally poor house buyers are still stuck with servicing the loans of houses that will never be built! What has this got to do with 1Malaysia you may ask?
Well, 1Malaysia will never be achieved if the government is not sensitive to the broadening income disparities among the Rakyat. I really feel that the low and the lower middle income group are not taken care of adequately or at least there is no proper planning done to address the problems that they face. Beginning from the inhumane size of the so-called low cost houses and apartments and to the social problems that such housing sizes must create, they appear to be caught in a spiral and a vicious circle. I have seen such potential time bombs of low income areas covering almost all the major ethnic community of Malaysia. Very soon, these low income groups, if left unaddressed will be a cause of class division. Lets us not forget that they from the broadest section of the society.
While on this subject, I feel that the price of houses are artificially high because houses that are meant to be for shelter have become assets for business by those in the real estate business. Shouldn’t there be control over these, since housing is an essential need of the People？
The Minister in charge has an excellent opportunity to come up with creative policies and ideas to make residential areas as enclaves or examples of 1Malaysia lifestyle.