well-meaning policies don’t take off the ground
09/05/2004 The Star
Although well-meaning, the government's efforts to provide housing
for the poor are sometimes hampered by weak implementation, reports
CLEARING cities of squatter settlements have recently become an
important government agenda, with Kuala Lumpur and Selangor vowing
to be declared squatter-free by 2005. High-rise low-cost flats have
been built to solve the housing needs of the evicted urban poor.
“We have prepared low-cost housing for all the 47,000 squatters
registered under the squatter census exercise. About 27,000
squatters have moved to their low-cost flats, and another 20,000 are
waiting for their units which will be ready by 2005,” said Chief
Assistant Director of Selangor Housing and Real Property Board Azmi
Arsad who is confident Selangor would achieve its squatter-free
status next year.
“From 1995 to March this year, 153,000 have applied for the low-cost
flats. However, only 117,000 have accepted the offer to buy the
“Squatters have all kinds of reasons for not taking up the offers.
They complained that the low-cost unit offered is far from their
present homes. But all of us have to sacrifice, kena berkorban,”
said Azmi. who has been handling squatter problems for the past four
“Some low-cost flat buyers complain about the condition of their
units, but it is up to them to read their sales and purchase
agreement carefully before signing it. Buyers must realise what they
are getting,” he added.
To overcome the problem of shoddy maintenance in high-rise low-cost
buildings, Azmi said the state government had recently embarked on a
programme to help residents set up their own management
The Selangor government has also established the Ehsan Housing Fund
(TPE) to provide housing loans for the poor.
“Under TPE, those who have been offered a low-cost unit can get a
full housing loan with only a RM1 deposit. The loans are guaranteed
by the state government which has placed RM100m in fixed deposits
for 10 years with AmBank. Over 9,765 house buyers have benefited
from the scheme since it was introduced three years ago.”
With this scheme, Selangor’s poor would be able to own a low-cost
home without worrying about the required 10% deposit.
“Unfortunately, dissemination of information and public information
about this scheme has been weak. Many eligible persons did not take
advantage of this scheme because they were not aware of the scheme.
“When we told them they could move in with RM1 deposit, they did not
believe us. It was only when we showed them the brochure that they
believed such a scheme existed,” related Tan Jo Hann, president of
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (Permas).
The NGO has been helping the urban poor seek permanent housing since
In Kuala Lumpur, DBKL has begun offering a scheme to rent out
low-cost units to the urban poor at RM124/ month for a maximum of
five years under PRUS (People’s Housing Project For Rental).
In 2002, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka
Ting had announced that the government was planning 55 projects
comprising 56,196 units to resettle squatters.
He said that the projects would be built in the vicinity of the
former squatter settlements, and only local squatters would be
eligible to rent the low-cost units.
“In reality, the PRUS scheme has not lived up to this objective. For
instance, squatters from Sg Besi had been resettled to the flats in
Taman Wahyu in Jinjang, which is far from their previous homes.
In the meantime, about 200 longhouse families living in the vicinity
of Taman Wahyu were not permitted to rent the units.
After a year of negotiations with DBKL, they were relocated to
another longhouse (see main story),” said Tan at a press conference
highlighting housing problems of the urban poor.
Ong recently announced that the government is planning to allow
these public housing tenants to convert their rentals into
instalments, which would enable the poor to own their own houses
without being burdened by high instalments and deposits.
“We believe that government officials at the upper levels, such as
the minister, are generally very concerned with housing for the
poor. They have devised policies to help provide housing for the
poor, but implementation is another matter,” said Tan, who urged the
government to take unscrupulous developers to task.
For more information on TPE, contact Hanizan Sahib from the
Selangor Housing and Real Property Board at 03-5544 7646. To contact
Permas, call or fax 03-79685415 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org