Medium cost housing

 In April 2003, at the urging of the then Segambut MP & Gerakan KL chief — and a personal friend of mine — Dr Tan Kee Kwong, I wrote a proposal to DBKL regarding the KL Structure plan.

It was very well received at the hearing committee (consisting of the Top Brass of DBKL and DBKL Advisors) where I presented the whole paper. The chairman even commented jokingly that it was as good as the thick report that they have prepared. Of course, that was merely a joke. as I was not a professional town planner.

The whole report which I have written can be viewed in this blog under the page “towards a world class city’.

I will post a few of the points I wrote here:  (please note that it was written in 2003, and the statistic i used was from that time)

2.1. Overview

What is the definition of a world-class city? There is no absolute yardstick. The Federal and Town Planning department have developed some 53 indicators, which can be used to gauge a city’s performance rate in comparison to other cities and towns

We propose that in order to gauge how Kuala Lumpur City is progressing, the Plan should include a listing of some of these indicators (29) including the actual performance rate of these indicators for Kuala Lumpur recorded every 5 years. In other words, we need to know the actual figures of these indicators every 5 years so that we can measure objectively the progress Kuala Lumpur is making.

These indicators include:

1. Average annual income

2. Spending on education

3. Unemployment rate

4. Ratio of house price to annual income

5. Residential population in the city center

6. Housing Density

7. Socio-community facilities per 1000 people

e.g. religious facilities

8. Heritage buildings/sites restored per total

Heritage buildings

9. Hospital beds per 100 people

10. Pollution indicator: dusts/suspended particles in the

air in microgram per cubic metre

11. Solid waste disposal sites

12. Water supply and quality

13. Sq metre of parks and fields per capita

14. Average class size in primary school

15. University educated people/total population

16. Vehicles per km of city roads

17. Average travel time to work

18. No. of accidents on the roads/population

19. Criminal cases per 10000 persons

20. TV sets per 1000 people

21. Existence of Mass Transit Rail System

22. GDP growth

23. Average life expectancy

24. Annual urban inflation rate

25. Number of theatres/cinemas per 100,000

26. No. of telephones per 1000 people

27. Mobile phone usage per 1000 people

28. Internet usage per 1000 people

29. Day and Night time city population

These parameters will enable us to compare our city with other world-class cities in the world and we can make adjustments to overcome any deficit areas along the way to our 2020 target of making Kuala Lumpur a world-class city.

2.2 Housing

2.2.1 Housing Stock

While the Plan recognizes that there is a shortfall of 20600 units of houses in 2000, we noted that there is an oversupply of high costs housing (51% of total). There is inadequate supply of low cost housing (24.5%) and medium cost housing (24.9%). There should be a more equitable distribution of low, medium and high cost housing.

One of the most important indicators of a world-class city is the ratio of house price/annual income. Kuala Lumpur has one of the highest ratio 3.27. This means that most of the population is paying beyond their means and about 30% of their annual income is used to pay for housing when it should be less than 5%. We urge the government to provide more affordable medium cost housing to cater for the working population in the inner city in order to attract these people to stay in the inner city.

2.2.2 Housing density

Density zoning in the Plan is too non-specific and vague. We propose that density zoning be done in a more specific manner, down to micro level. We noted that International zones are low density high quality living zones but we would welcome a more specific density be mentioned at micro levels e.g. how many persons per hectare in Bukit Tunku and so on.

2.2.3 Redevelopment of Old housing stock

We welcome the policy statement in the plan that City Hall shall develop and implement measures to upgrade the quality of existing old housing stock.

We noted that there are many one-room flats in the city e.g. in Bangsar, Loke Yew, San Peng and Pekeliling. These flats should be redeveloped at existing sites according to current housing standards and affordability.

Measures should also be taken to improve the conditions and external appearances of flats both public and private that do not meet the minimum requirements. e.g. new coat of paints, better lightings, better access roads.

In that report, as early as 2003, I have advocated the building of medium cost homes as a government initiative. There is just no way for a young graduate to own a house in KL, Penang, JB, apart from this government initiative.

Since Dr KTK became a minister, I have on numerous occasions urged him to bring into the cabinet  the need of building medium cost home and the need for a comprehensive transport plan.

So, I am glad when yesterday the PM announced that the government is going to build medium cost houses below 220,000.  It is the first step in the right direction.

The main worry about providing this medium cost housing is of course there may be leakages and wastage along the way, resulting in badly built houses being sold at medium cost prices.

I suggest that as a government-private initiative, the government should provide the land at a minimum cost and then invite tender to build these housing schemes, and that an independent committee comprising of consumer groups and professional bodies-from architecture and engineering fraternity– be invited to sit in the tender committee and that the same committee be given power to oversea the implementation of the project.

This will ensure that leakages be kept to minimal, and people who pay for a house of 200,000 will get a full value for it.

If there is no such overseeing process, I suspect this will again be a project succumbing to manipulation and leakages..


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. klm
    May 06, 2011 @ 12:03:01

    Dr Hsu. The words may sound good, but the implementation will be evil. Low cost housing projects had been going on for ages in this country. Where did that that all went to? Abandoned houses in places where people do not want to stay? We see these eyesores everywhere. I am a pessimist where this govt is concerned. This announcement will end up nowhere. After the Sarawak election and the 500M RM sending, I was expecting announcement of more mega projects. I see this as another mean to divert money to the election coffer of BN. The modus operandi now is payment upfront to the politicians for any project approved.


  2. klm
    May 06, 2011 @ 12:07:07

    I heard a story the other day and hope other people can confirm. There is an exodus of money by businessmen in Sarawak. The reason is the expectation of Taib will lean on these businessmen for funds for the next election. Seems Taib is planning a fight with Najib in the next election.


  3. Richard Loh
    May 06, 2011 @ 14:35:10

    These are my thoughts, especially for Penang Island.

    Firstly, the National Land Code and Building By-law need to be amended according to modern time.

    Penang is very short of land for development. There are endless complaints when development encroaches onto the hills, seafront and also whatever limited flat land available due to squatters but yet people are complaining there are not enough housing.

    Land cost is the killing factor and if force to build medium housing, the request application will be asking for a much higher density and from there the problems we have to face as according to your lists from 6 to 29.

    The only thing is planned zoning, controlled developers buying of private land within certain zoning and this is where the NLC and BBL amendments come in handy. State government to start off building medium housing on state land to accommodate those affected by dislocation within the zoning.

    Overall is a very complicated process and need very careful studies but it can be done, just like Singapore or Hong Kong if the people and politicians leave out politics.


  4. Richard Loh
    May 06, 2011 @ 16:38:46

    The news just out, Malaysia own housing board just like Singapore but wonder how they will manage it. Just like the medium low cost and low cost flats which were meant for the poor but hijack by cronies who bought them and rented out. Some even kept mistress there, you can see bmw, mercedes parked at the car park.


  5. manaman
    May 06, 2011 @ 17:50:57

    dont believe bn govt, too much, all talk only, no effective action wan lah !


  6. monsterball
    May 06, 2011 @ 18:17:01

    In Subang Jaya..UMNO B had a way to manuplay the prices of properties at the begining of USJ area.
    Most Muslims own corner lot and sell them off with good profit…after short stay.
    And if you look at at the bangalows….majority are owned by Police officers…with few brand new expensive cars…parked in their componds.
    For many years..they will blocked all roads with police signboards…to throw regular parties…death or wedding parties.. They simply ignore inconvinicing others. It is as if they own the roads..and do as they like.It changed …after 12th GE.
    There is no doubt in my mind…many chosen Malays need not on sen to buy the houses…for in no time..the prices sky rocketed.
    It means they have first hand news where ordinary folks depend good foresights and make good investments.


  7. BigC
    May 06, 2011 @ 20:41:43

    I heard from second news that one of my friend attached to one political party said they have ways to make money on house properties;paying developer some under-table money for early booking units,and just wait for the price to shoot up and make gains.If that is the simple way to make fortune,rich money will only pass from hands to hands among the connected ones(dominant parties).What is left for us especially the younger generation.


  8. BigC
    May 06, 2011 @ 20:45:45

    Sorry,missed out the ? mark after my last word.


  9. monsterball
    May 06, 2011 @ 22:06:13

    It has been reported PAP have never experienced such a strong Opposition and thousands flocked to hear and support Oppostrions…mostly young voters.
    For this…I hope the young ones do not listen to their parents advise to keep supporting PAP.
    And PAP is now playing the role of being humble and apologetic…if they have not serve S’poreans well.
    It seems Sp’ore election will have a telling effect over how Johoreans are going to vote in 13th GE.
    All signs are pointing towards hunger for more freedom all over the world.


  10. beh tahan
    May 06, 2011 @ 22:47:09

    Government must also set the appropriate minimum wage that is commensurate with one’ skills and experience,Short of this,we have no where to head forward.Slowly and steady dying which is the least case i hope so.When government of the day paying nuts,it keeps getting nuts,thus brain drain vanishing into air by air carrier and nuts brain rushing in just like the flooded brainstormed illegal migrants,which by the sidekick effect and cause,LGE could not accept the lucrative business contracts from renown international companies.Change the present government first then let the course take its own direction.Nothing to lose,i guess.?


  11. monsterball
    May 07, 2011 @ 02:06:56

    Najib revealed he likes the No:11
    13th GE should be…11-11-11…or 11th September 2011
    That long ah?
    Better late than never.
    12-7-11 was my prediction. Don’t ask me why.


  12. CYC
    May 07, 2011 @ 09:25:39

    Dr Hsu,

    Believe me, there are sufficient low house in Klang Valley. The problem is not on quantity but “Misallocation” and wrong locations. Politicians being the chief culprits. Most of the low cost houses built during late 80s till now were first allocated to councilors and then resell to the public through middleman for RM8,000 undertable money. Hence, poor folks facing great difficulty in coming up with their up front money to own their house. And as a matter of fact , these under table money actually becomes the main income to most councilors.

    The other factor is wrong location. Most developer whose has project located in prime or better location often swap the low cost site to a far away location and our councils will obliged gracefully after being “greased’.

    So, this monkey business has goes on and on but the problem of low cost housing remained inadequate or misappropriate.


  13. monsterball
    May 07, 2011 @ 13:57:25

    Najib announced cheap houses are available for wage eaners salaries between RM2100 and RM2500.
    Houses are from RM250K and below.
    I tell you.. Najib knows next to nothing about management and continueosly speaks through his nose.
    How does he expect a person earning RM2500 per month to buy his so call cheap houses?…..when things get dearer and dearer every month?
    Than man does not know house keeping nor true facts of life.


  14. beh tahan
    May 07, 2011 @ 14:11:27

    Ya..Najis continuously speaks through his nose and we continuously pay through our noses.I do hope we do not have to,one day or which day?,pay through our arses.Apology..just can’t bear any longer.


  15. monsterball
    May 07, 2011 @ 19:15:51

    And now UMNO B paid bloggers like Big Dog and our Big Mouth Hishamuddin minister….with few others are saying Chirstainity is dangerous. It is out to buy up Penang.
    Lucky…Rocket-Man Lim Guan Eng fired back with no fear.
    All reports are in Malaysiakini.
    Lee Chong Wei in M’sian final again is more important that Big Dog or Big Mouth… Home Minister fanning race and religion politics…to another level.
    But whatever levels they keep choosing to fan…instigate…accused…like Najib said..”They are blowing hot air only”….with this statement coming true to hit him back in his face..over and over again.


  16. beh tahan
    May 07, 2011 @ 20:41:40

    Towards rescue the Rocket-Man’island..comes spiralling down the Hornbill to peck peck…together with Big Big rushing eargerly to grrh grrh…fully aided with activated rocket to piu piu..Big Dog will spring to his feet for cover up and Big Mouth Hisaputin minister will just have to keep his mouth shut up.


  17. Tony 隆吉
    May 08, 2011 @ 02:15:58

    I have conducted a study on Penang house price growth. I found that the rapid growth of Penang house price since end of 2009 is very likely the boom phase of a bubble, supported mainly by speculative demand (or mistakenly treating housing as hedge of inflation). But the real culprit of poor housing affordability is stagnant income. Housing affordability is more like a symptom of income generation and distribution issue. Loose tax (RPGT) and monetary policies benefit speculation more
    than genuine demand.


  18. monsterball
    May 08, 2011 @ 03:17:00

    The rich getting richer..the poor getting poorer.
    This is real and only a very corrupted country will be like that.
    Imagine Malaysia is no better than Phillippines…and Indonesia…when 30 years ago….we are miles ahead.
    Blame the Christains….blame the Malaysian Chinese…blame any and everything else….with no shame or maybe no brains?
    A govt that controls everything blaming others for their failures.
    When I read how Mahathir speaks….always blaming others ….I wonder is he acting or does he really beleive everything he said are truthful.
    I think a crook like him and all that became like him..must keep on play dirty politics….as these crooks cannot admit anything…and must be what they are ….like so….forever.
    It will only be through a change of Govt. that Malaysians can hope to see and know the real Mahathir..Najib and his band of robbers and legally.


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