Monday 30 January 2012

Fairness must prevail in housing schemes for poor

Housing schemes launched for the poor must be announced widely and equitably distributed to all races without any prejudice.

In the implementation of public policies, especially those in which noble ideals are enshrined, their execution by little Napoleons can be a cause for concern.

Ignoring the equitable distribution of benefits without ensuring that they go to all races, is just not acceptable.

However, the government must be congratulated for wanting to improve the wellbeing of the poor of all races.

This however was not the case in a low cost scheme announced in 2010 for estate workers.

According to Saturday's announcement, the poor people in the city can also own a home now under the People's Housing Programme.

This is part of a 1 Malaysia people housing scheme included in the Budget Speech of 2012, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak announced.

This loan scheme is to help those in the low- and middle-income group to own a home in the city.

While we welcome the announcement, let's not forget a similar scheme announced in Budget 2011.
In the October 2010 Budget, Najib also announced a RM50 million allocation for a low cost housing scheme for estate workers.

This scheme was managed by the Labour Manpower Department in the Human Resources Ministry and financed by Bank Simpanan Nasional.

While the objectives of the scheme are laudable, the programme was only executed one year later and the beneficiaries were all Malays, as revealed in the Senate last month.

Human Resources Minister S Subramaniam in a written reply to the Senate on December 22, 2011, noted it was a scheme aimed at improving the welfare of estate workers.

The scheme would grant a loan of RM60,000 at four percent (40 year repayment period), and aimed at reducing the dependence on foreign workers, he said in his reply to Senator S Ramakrishnan's question.

The question: What percentage of Indian estate workers benefitted from the RM50 million allocation for the low cost housing scheme?

The reply, "In the first phase of the scheme introduced in Johore, there were 142 Malay and four Indian applicants."

The applications, according to the written reply, were reviewed in a meeting held on 14th Nov, 2011, chaired by Subramaniam.

Based on the criteria, from the total of 146 applicants, 33 Malays were approved to receive the loans.
The Malay recipients were 22 from Taman Medan Jaya, Kota Tinggi, and 11 from the Taman Permai, Segamat. Four among the Indian applications did not qualify for the scheme.

The four per cent interest rate for a loan of RM60,000, over a period of 40 years will total to a repayment of RM120,000 to Bank Simpanan Nasional.

So far, a total of RM2 million has been utilised from the RM50 million allocation.

"Let's hope and pray that the balance of RM48 million will be equitably distributed to all races," said Senator Ramakrishnan.

Some of the flaws of the low cost housing scheme that seriously need to be addressed are:
  • Why was the scheme not distributed equitably to all races?
  • Why it was not implemented in other states?
  • What were the criteria for disqualification of the four Indians who applied?
  • Why didn't any Chinese apply?
  • When and how was it publicised for estate workers to apply?
  • Who are the people suppose to execute the scheme?
  • Are there more low cost schemes in which estate folks can apply?

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