Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Penang to buy land for Rumah Hijau low-cost housing, says Guan Eng

Lim said the state government has identified three plots of land near Rumah Hijau and is in talks with the landowners. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today said his administration will provide land for a new low-cost housing project for Rumah Hijau residents, while challenging the federal government to commit to provide funding. Lim said the state government will either buy or acquire land to help solve the housing woes of those living in Rumah Hijau, in the Bagan constituency of Penang.
The Rumah Hijau residents were forced to move after the previous state administration signed a privatisation deal with developer Silver Channel, although some have stayed put.
“Basically, the state government is ready to offer the land with the condition that the federal government comes up with money to build this affordable housing. We hope they will provide money, don’t just say ‘consider’. I can also say ‘consider’. I say here, we are buying land,” said Lim in Penang today.
Lim was referring to a letter issued by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHLG) regarding an application for federal funds to build a low-cost housing project.
“After four years of asking from the government, finally we get a letter from the MHLG,” said Lim, who is also the Bagan MP.
“The National Housing Department is ready to consider the application in the third Rolling Plan if there is a suitable site to build the people’s housing scheme (PPR) houses,” the Ministry wrote in the Malay language in the letter dated May 17.
The letter addressed to the Rumah Hijau Residents’ Association was emailed to The Malaysian Insider.
Lim chided the government for the letter, saying that it only says “bersedia untuk mempertimbangkan (willing to consider)” and not “promise or commitment”.
“We hope the central government, because they are the ones who caused this problem, they are the ones who privatised this land...can together with the state government help to solve this problem.”
On the state government’s part, Lim said that it has identified three plots of land near Rumah Hijau and is in talks with the landowners.
He added that close to 2.5 acres of land will be needed to build over 300 units for the Rumah Hijau residents, but declined to speculate on the eventual cost of the land.
Lim said the new housing units will also be made available to Rumah Hijau residents who moved out after the privatisation deal.
“We don’t want a rolling plan. We want a direct grant; only then will there be a guarantee,” Lim further said, commenting on the government’s provision of funds for the new housing.
Yesterday, MCA’s Bagan Youth Chief David Chua said he had sought the federal government’s help for the Rumah Hijau families for the past two years.
“It is now up to the state government to provide a piece of land for these residents to build their flat units,” Chua was quoted as saying by The Star.
“The construction of a flat unit, measuring 600 square feet costs about RM60,000, while the entire cost for the 70 units is about RM4.2 million,” he said.
Last Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that the federal government will give RM2,000 to each family still living in Rumah Hijau to repair their houses, according to Bernama.

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