By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, April 27, 1991:
Call on Ting Chew Peh to explain whether he has proposed to the Cabinet a masterplan to re-house the tenants of the 29,000 rent control houses before repeal of the Rent Control Act 1966
The Minister of Housing and Local Government, Dr.Ting Chew Peh, said yesterday that the Rent Control Act will not be replaced by another act once is repealed.
Dr.Ting said a new act was not necessary as there was no acute shortage of houses in the country while the Rent Control Act was to protect tenants because at the time it was passed, there was a shortage of houses.
Dr.Ting said that once the Rent Control Act is repealed, the market forces will determinate the rental rates.
Dr.Ting’s statement is most shocking. It is the great misfortune of the poor and low-income that there is now a Minister in charge of housing who is utterly insensitive to their crying basic need of housing.
Dr.Ting does not seem to know that the greatest failure of the Barisan Nasional government in the last 20 years is to provide adequate low-cost housing to fulfil the basic human needs of every Malaysian to have a roof over his head.
It is clear that Dr.Ting has not come out of his ‘ivory tower’ and does not understand the problems of the ordinary people.
After the general elections, UMNO Ministers openly asked what the Chinese in Malaysia wanted. One of the things the Chinese, together with all other Malaysians, want is to have a roof over their head, at a price which is within their means. Do Dr.Ting and the MCA Ministers, who have big Ministerial residents, understand this?
Does Dr.Ting know how many people will be affected by the repeal of the Rent Control Act, when the 29,000 pre-war houses in the country are decontrolled?
I want to ask Dr.Ting whether he is aware that the MCA President, Datuk Dr.Ling Liong Sik, declared in 1978 that the lifting of the Rent Control Act was justified only when there were adequate low-cost and low-priced houses for the people, and he declared that there were not enough houses to meet the demand of the people.
Is Dr.Ting suggesting that the acute housing shortage problem prevailing in 1976 had now been resolved? Is he aware that the acute housing shortage for the poor and homeless is even worse today than 15 years ago?
Or has the MCA leadership decided to abandon their 1976 stand that it was only justifiable to repeal the Rent Control Act when there are enough low-cost and low-priced houses for the people?
MCA leaders have been appointed to be the Minister for Housing for the last 20 years, but none of them has shown real concern for the sufferings of the homeless and the poor. This could be seen by the fact that none of the MCA Ministers had commissioned a census to be taken to find out how many people would be affected by a repeal of the Rent Control Act.
As housing Minister, Dr.Ting should explain whether he had proposed to the Cabinet a master-plan to re-house all the tenants of the 29,000 pre war houses who would be affected by the repeal of the Rent Control Act, or does he take the attitude that the repeal of the Rent Control Act would not create any problem at all as there are adequate housing in the country?
It is surprising that Dr.Ting as Housing Minister has not been able to give details of the government’s intentions with regard to the Rent Control Act.
It is the Deputy Minister of Housing, Haji Daud Datuk Taha who had given the most details about the government’s proposal to repeal the Rent Control Act.
This makes one wonder whether the Deputy Housing Minister has more power or more information about the repeal of the Rent Control Act than the full Minister himself.
In the past 15 years, the Housing Ministry had commissioned various studies and reports on the question of the Rent Control Act. Dr.Ting should make all these reports and studies public, for there is no reason why the Official Secrets Act should apply to a matter which is fully concerned about the socio-economic problems of the people.