Malaysian govt out to fulfil desire for affordable homes

Prime Minister Najib Razak with new owners of flats in Putrajaya built under the civil service housing scheme PPA1M. He handed over 1,680 keys to the homes on Monday.
Prime Minister Najib Razak with new owners of flats in Putrajaya built under the civil service housing scheme PPA1M. He handed over 1,680 keys to the homes on Monday.PHOTO: NAJIBRAZAK.COM WEBSITE

Its housing schemes target low-income folk - the main constituency of ruling coalition

PUTRAJAYA • Malaysian housing projects offered by the government have head-scratching initials such as PR1MA, RUMAWIP and PGBF.

They all have the same aim of providing affordable housing to lower-income folk - the main constituency of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition led by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Most of the buyers are Malays.

These housing projects, like the recent completion of part of the MRT network and expansion of the LRT lines in Kuala Lumpur, are important to the government.

Surveys have shown that high property and transport costs as well as food inflation are top grouses in the cities.

The government has said it will build at least 30,000 "people's housing" this year alone.

BLURRING THE LINES

Today, they do not look like public housing flats but medium-cost condos.

PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK, on the new public high-rises.

Datuk Seri Najib delivered on Monday 1,680 units to mostly- Malay civil servants under a subsidised scheme called 1Malaysia Civil Service Housing, or PPA1M.

These blocks of flats are in Putrajaya, not far from the Prime Minister's Office.

"Our agenda of housing for the people is very close to my heart," Mr Najib wrote on his website on Monday.

"At the same time, the government is concerned with the welfare and dreams of civil servants, especially from the B40 and M40 groups to own their own spacious and comfortable homes."

He was referring to the so-called Bottom 40 (B40), the government's grouping of families with the lowest income, and the Middle 40 (M40) group.

The top earners in Malaysia are called Top 20 (T20).

The huge popularity for affordable housing was in full display last week in Johor Baru.

More than 10,000 people turned up at a shopping centre when Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar announced that his foundation was backing a project to sell homes at three sites in Johor Baru at below-market prices.

Mr Najib has made his handing over of new keys to happy residents major media events in recent weeks.

Two weeks ago, he personally handed to 658 owners the keys to upgraded public housing flats called 1Razak Mansion in Kuala Lumpur that were built under the People's Housing Programme.

At the end of last month, keys were given out by the Premier to 472 proud owners of Residensi Kerinchi homes in Kuala Lumpur, built under the Federal Territories' Affordable Homes scheme for residents of the city.

These projects are heavily subsidised by the government, at a time when similar private condominium units are sold at double or three times the price.

Public flats are typically sold from RM30,000 (S$9,500) for a one-room unit to RM300,000 for those with three bedrooms.

The other government schemes are 1Malaysia People's Housing Programme (PR1MA), 1Malaysia People-Friendly Housing (RMR1M) and the New Generation Felda Housing Project (PGBF).

A popular feature of the new high-rises is that they do not look like mass public flats anymore.

As Mr Najib put it at the 1Razak Mansion event: "The huge difference in improvement between the old units and the new ones is like night and day. They used to be dirty and looked like city squatter (settlements).

"Today, they do not look like public housing flats but medium-cost condos."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2017, with the headline 'Malaysian govt out to fulfil desire for affordable homes'. Print Edition | Subscribe