By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, August 6, 1993:
DAP hails Anwar’s statement that the 1984 Budget will identify specific strategies and programmes to effectively address the housing problem, especially in the major cities and towns, as at last giving hope to the homeless in the country
DAP hails the statement by the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yesterday that the 1984 Budget will identify specific strategies and programmes to effectively address the housing problem, especially in the major cities and towns, as at last giving hope to the homeless in the country.
Until this announcement by the Finance Minister, the poor and low-income have virtually given up hope that their homeless plight will get serious attention of the government, although there had been endless verbal concerns by government leaders.
Housing, in particular low-cost housing, is the greatest failure of the Barisan Nasional Government, both at national and state levels, for the past two decades.
One important reason why housing had never been given an important place in the social development agenda by the government is that the Housing Ministry had never held by a heavy-weight Minister.
In the past two decades, the Housing Minister had always been a minor MCA leader who could not impress on the Government the importance of housing. The ineffectiveness of the MCA in the Housing Ministry could be seen from the fact that no MCA Housing Minister had ever established a reputation to be remembered as the one who had broken the back of the low-cost housing problem in the country.
This is the reason why the Special Low-Cost Housing Programme (SLCHP) to build 320,000 low cost housing units in three years from 1986 to 1989 was such a disastrous failure.
At present, this SCCHP has been extended twice from the original three-year programme into a nine-year programme to end in 1995.
From the latest figures which I had obtained form the Housing Ministry, as at the end of last year, only 136,258 units out of the target of 320,874 low-cost units had been completed, or a paltry 42 per cent despite the fact that the programme had doubled its three-year original time frame to six years!
The breakdown of the completed SLCHP as at the end of last year for each state is as follows:
Federal Territory 8,880
Negri Sembilan 7,260
In his answer to my parliamentary question, the Housing Minister, Dr. Ting Chew Peh said that the rest of the SLCHP programmes which would be completed in next three years are 25,138 units in 1993, 18,733 units in 1994 and 13,046 units in 1995.
DAP calls for the establishment of a Cabinet Committee on Housing headed by Anwar Ibrahim to provide leader-ship to break the back of low-cost housing crisis in Malaysia
However, the 136,258 units completed as at the end of 1992, together with the units to be completed from 1993 to 1995, do not add up to the total SLCHP target of 320,874! In fact, there are 127,699 low-cost units missing – which represent some 40 per cent of the total SLCHP target.
This is most scandalous. After extending the three-year SLCHP programme to a nine-year programme, the Housing Minister has still to abandon 40 per cent of the total SLCHP target.
It is no exaggeration to say that the people in the country have lost hope that anything significant could be achieved in low-cost housing in Malaysia so long as the Housing Ministry is headed by an ineffective MCA Minister.
This is why Anwar Ibrahim’s speech yesterday promising to give housing the important place development agenda it deserved and never been accorded, had brought new hope to the homeless in the country.
They hope that this is not another empty promise when the 1994 budget is unveiled in October.
DAP is prepared to place its confidence in Anwar Ibrahim that he would be the first Cabinet heavy-weight in the past two decades who could deliver on his promise to give housing an important place in the social development agenda of the government. In fact, the DAP would call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to establish a Cabinet Committee on Housing, headed by Anwar Ibrahim, to provide the needed vision and leadership to break the back of low-cost housing crisis in the country.