GEORGE TOWN, 7 Feb – The Penang state government is allocating RM500 million to build 19, 172 units of affordable homes throughout the state — a feat described by its Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng as ‘the largest effort by any state government’ in Malaysia’s history.
The units will be realised through a state government agency known as Penang Development Corporation (PDC) under an affordable housing programme. The launching for the housing programme’s registration of interest is held here at Komtar, 7 February.
In the programme’s commencement stage, the state government through PDC will build 1, 840 affordable homes in two locations, namely George Town’s Jalan S P Chelliah which will see 1, 320 units built, and Batu Kawan’s Bandar Cassia, Seberang Perai which will see 520 units built.
According to Lim, the RM500 million housing programme was made possible by previous sales of government land made possible via open tenders, allowing the state government and PDC to roll more money back to Penangites, based on a ‘reserved price’ concept. A total 17 companies have sent in bids for the housing programme.
“We want to do more for Penang by undertaking the largest effort by any state government in history by building 19, 172 affordable housing units,” Lim said.
“The state government wishes to stress that this first batch of 1, 840 units of affordable homes is additional to the other low cost and low-medium cost houses that will be built by private developers and PDC, which will be calculated separately.”
The housing development at Jalan S P Chelliah will consist of 770 units of 700 sq ft low medium cost apartments priced at RM72, 500 each, 303 units of 800 sq ft apartments of priced at RM200, 000 each, 165 units of 900 sq ft apartments priced at RM300, 000 each, and 82 units of 1, 000 sq ft apartments of RM400, 000 each.
Only 6.2% of the 1, 320 units of apartments at Jalan S P Chelliah will cost homebuyers RM400, 000, Lim emphasised.
Meanwhile, the housing development at Bandar Cassia, Batu Kawan will offer homebuyers, particularly those of lower income a total of 11, 800 units of affordable housing expected to be built over a 10 to 15 year period.
The first phase of the Bandar Cassia development is planned to consist of 149 units of 800 sq ft low medium cost apartments priced at RM72, 000 each, 98 units of 900 sq ft apartments priced at RM168, 000 each, and 273 units of 1, 000 sq ft apartments priced at RM220, 000 each — all of which are now available for registration.
The designers responsible for Singapore’s renowned Housing and Development Board (HDB) homes, Surbana International Consultants will take charge in the design of the Batu Kawan development.
Largest effort by any state governments in Malaysia
The federal government, through Prime Minister Najib Razak in his tabling of Budget 2013 last September, has set a ceiling price of RM72, 500 to RM400, 000 for affordable housing in urban areas, and RM 72, 500 to RM220, 000 for housing in rural areas.
“Naturally, the price ceiling of RM 400,000 was set for an urban area like George Town and the price ceiling RM 220,000 for a rural area like Batu Kawan,” said Lim, optimistic that the state government is meeting the specified guidelines.
Penang BN Chief Teng Chang Yeow has hurled attacks at Penang state government, throwing claims that the DAP-led state government has not built any low cost house in the state during its five-year governance — a claim Lim dispels as ‘irresponsible’.
Teng, also Gerakan Secretary-General, has further alleged that the state government is making profit out of the apartments’ sales in putting the price for every unit at RM400, 000.
The sudden attacks by Teng came out to be unsurprising for many, as Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin has been parading Teng as the ‘possible candidate for CM’ should Barisan Nasional recapture Penang come the 13th General Election.
In his response to the baseless allegations by Teng and BN, Lim said, “I regret that the state government and a professional architect like Rosli (director of PDC) have been unfairly attacked by lies through the BN-controlled media that only RM 400,000 apartments are built.”
Refuting the claims, Lim said that the state government does not build any housing but builds them through PDC — a step Lim urged as following the same model as the federal government in not building housing directly, but through their agency Syarikat Perumahan Awam Negara (SPAN).
“Those who are not even professionals want to talk like architects. Let professional architects do their work. Clearly, it is OK for the Prime Minister to do so but [it is] not OK for the state government to follow what the Prime Minister has done,” Lim commented.
Lim, also DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bagan, is adamant that the people of Penang ‘can see through BN’s lies’ because most of the houses planned are well within the defined price range for affordable housing.
Lim also dismissed claims that PDC will profit from the housing programme, stressing that the programme is ‘part of PDC’s corporate social responsibility’.
Elaborating on the registration of interest for the houses, Lim explained, “Anyone with a monthly basic household income not exceeding RM3, 500 is eligible to apply for the low medium cost units, while those with monthly basic household income exceeding RM3, 501 are eligible to apply for the affordable apartments.”
The public is welcomed to register for the affordable homes at Komtar Concourse, George Town; MPSP Office, Bandar Perda and PDC Office, Bayan Baru from 7 February till 7 March 2013, which are open 9am – 5pm daily, including during public holidays. – The Rocket