KUALA LUMPUR • The Malaysian government yesterday reached out to the urban poor - mostly ethnic Malays and Indians - by dishing out two major benefits for them.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said students from families living in government flats for the low-income, called PPR flats, will get free bus rides to school from next year.
And such families won't have to pay any downpayment to buy these low-cost flats.
Datuk Seri Zahid told an Umno meeting in Kuala Lumpur that he is directing Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to implement the measure from next year.
He added, as reported by The Star newspaper: "For school-going children in all PPR flats, they are to be given free bus rides to school."
Flats built by the government under its People's Housing Project are now mostly rented out to families earning less than RM2,500 (S$835) a month. These flats are typically around 700 sq ft, with two small bedrooms and one bathroom, and are rented out by the government at RM124 a month. Kuala Lumpur City Hall rents out some 50,000 of these units, media reports say.
The government also regularly sells batches of these homes at around RM35,000 each - easily 10 times lower than their market price in big cities such as Kuala Lumpur - but with the provision that they can only be resold to the government at the same price.
Mr Zahid did not say whether all current PPR flats would now be offered for sale without the buyers having to put up deposits, or whether the new scheme will apply only to new PPR projects, The Star said.
The new measures are expected to greatly help the urban poor cope with high living costs. Fees for school buses, according to a report in the New Straits Times (NST) last December, are about RM100 a month.
"The government is continuously looking for solutions to these issues. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has given his assurance that we not only look at rural areas but also problems faced by the urban poor," Mr Zahid said, according to NST Online.