The importance rebuilding Pari Towers as a social obligation to poor.
The DAP has been receiving frequent complains about inadequate housing for the poor in Ipoh. We were invited to have look at SG.Pari Towers the "eye sore" of Ipoh led by former tenant Mr. Mani and others. Mani 65 was a resident tenant for over 20years and when the flats become inhabitable he and many others moved out.
With DAP ADUN YB Cheong,Albert,Ronald,Segaran,Vasu,Ong Jermidah, Cherry and I visited the area today.
The over 200 flats have been abandoned and undergrowths and bushes can be found in the flats. Why these flats have been abandoned when it can serve useful purpose for the poor is mind boggling.
The irresponsible neglect of an iconic building
Social Housing in Ipoh is in a dire state due to inefficient central authority, diminishing role of local councils, and dependency of private sector for housing needs. This is evident when one comprehends the state of an iconic building called Sungai Pari Towers in Ipoh which has great history in housing the poor. Sungai Pari Towers is situated at a highly valued location along Jalan Gurdial Singh Gill and on the bank of Sungai Pari, just a stone’s throw away from the iconic Ipoh railway station. Yet, there is no plan to redevelop the site. Former Ipoh mayor, Datuk Roshidi Hashim, was quoted in 2012 as saying that the Perak state executive council had given the green light to redevelop the Sungai Pari Towers “in a way that the current tenants would not need to be relocated.”Residents there had found it very convenient, as the central bus station, railway station and market are all close-by. They did not want to move out until the situation became unbearable as the city council stopped maintaining the buildings and the surroundings. In fact, there are still some people living in the low-rise units. The Sungai Pari Towers was completed in 1962, during the glorious days of the then Ipoh Municipal Council, which was under the control of the popular People’s Progressive Party. It had stood as the tallest building and a “showpiece” of the success of the public housing projects in the city.
Centralized delays and inefficiency
In a recent reply to YB Encik Cheong Chee Kin concerning Sungai pari towers the Menteri Besar of Perak has stated the MBI had applied for financial allocation for public housing from the Jabatan Perumahan Negara under 11th Malaysian plan in a letter dated 7th March 2014, and the JPN responded in letter dated 16th May 2016 that the PPR Sungai Pari Ipoh is one of the new project under JPN in line with 11th Malaysian plan but would depend on the approval of the economic planning unit under the budget 2017. It is a puzzling that it took two years for JPN to respond. This is how a centralized housing system could be inimical to well being of the poor who are dependable on social housing. The question is why has Pari Tower is seen as a new project when the building could be redone without destroying its foundation? Is there economic motive by the authorities to collaborate with well connected developers to destroy the current structure of the building and create new housing projects, since Pari Towers is in a strategic location?
Sg.Pari towers needs to be rehabilited
When we in Government in Perak in 2008 at one of the local council meetings we were told the building is still very much in tact, the foundation is solid and can last for over 100 years more. I am now surprised that the answer given by the State Assembly to YB Chong states the Sg. Pari Towers would be torn down and a new building would be built instead. Why is there a necessity to demolish the Towers if it can last for another 100 years. In fact the committee at the local council where I was a member even did a structural study and found the Towers was fit for a further 100 years. But what has happened was the proper maintenance and upkeep of the Towers slaked and thus the Towers was left to rod. As a consequence over 200 hundred of the lower income group lost the opportunity to rent and live in the Towers.
Ecosystem of social housing and economic empowerment
Besides reviving the structure of Pari Towers it also vital to enhance the social economic well being of its residence through income subsidies, training on job skills and adequate public transport. Merely building homes without a proper ecosystem to empower the poor would create ghettoes that would be hideouts for crime. It would be unwise if the so-called 11th Malaysian plan for Pari towers is given to developer or private entities that might not have interest of the poor citizens at heart. Developers or Private Management who sole motive is profit would only be interested in collecting rents while paying scant attention to the overall social- economic well being of the poor.
The empowerment of Local Government
To ensure there is no unethical collaboration between the state government and developers it is vital that the local government is empowered to facilitate the project of rebuilding Pari Towers without destroying its foundation. The local government who is far more aware of the realities within its vicinity is the rational authority to undertake the project of rebuilding Sungai Pari Towers. This would require decentralization of housing projects, and adequate financial allocation to local government. The rebuilding of Pari Towers is a importance social obligation to the poor.