KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians forced to get by living in squalid apartments with little space and no parking lots can look forward to better living conditions.
Their homes could soon be picked as among those that seriously need a massive facelift.
Under a plan by the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry, owners of such developments chosen for the makeover may have the option of either settling down in a place where they will be relocated, as the project will require the old development to be torn down, or take ownership of new homes.
Under the plan, if the home owners opt for the latter, they will be able to make use of the compensation offered to them, along with discounts, for them to return to where they once lived.
Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar told the New Straits Times that for this initiative, the ministry would tap into Singapore’s experience with its “Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme” (SERS)
Noh was responding to a New Sunday Times front-page exclusive recently on the problems in high-density housing areas, including haphazard parking, which would make even rescue efforts futile. This mainly covered low- and medium-cost flats.
Noh said these areas needed to be upgraded and equipped with a multi-level parking facility.
“An upgrade to these types of houses is inevitable as they were build 30 or 40 years ago, when they were solely targeted for the less fortunate.
“These houses have only one or two rooms and were sold at a price of between RM15,000 and RM25,000.”
He said these developments, including those with 1,000 units, came with about 400 parking lots as they were built with the thought that its occupants could not afford a car.
“However, the livelihood of these people has vastly improved. Each household has not one, but several cars as their children, who are staying with them, own cars, too. That is why we are seeing massive congestion in these housing areas.”
Noh, who is Selangor Umno liaison committee chairman, said the government had plans to redevelop housing areas with the problem in Selangor, but could face a host of issues with the state government, including on land matters.
If the state was returned to federal power, there would no longer be any obstacle in carrying out the plan for the people.
“The state government has the power over land matters, and, by right, it should play its role to identify and redevelop these areas... they should take the effort to at least solve the parking woes and build multi-level parking facilities.
“I have been to Azmin’s parliamentary area (Selangor Men-teri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali) and saw how the less fortunate are neglected.”
Noh said the Kerinchi residency redevelopment project, which saw more than 400 people previously living in a dilapidated 300-sq-ft flat moving into a 900-sq-ft condominium complete with a swimming pool, proved that the government could walk the talk.
“One example is the Kerinchi Residency project, where the one-bedroom units, which had low market value, is now valued at RM550,000 each.
“This is how we help the less fortunate, compared with the Selangor government, which redeveloped a residence in Keramat, but neglected its original residents, who, in the end, could not afford to get their homes back as they were sold at about RM500,000 per unit.”
He said the government would be able to help those in Selangor wanting a better life if Barisan Nasional was returned the ruling mandate.
He said the government also had in the past restructured housing areas in rural estates, such as the housing project for Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) and the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlers.