Taman Tun Dr Awang: Not quite Straits Quay

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Taman Tun Dr Awang on mainland Penang faces Straits Quay across the channel on Penang Island – and they are just as far apart in terms of quality of life.

Taman Tun Dr Awang: Cleaner, greener Penang should start here - Photograph: Anil

In another world: Aerial view of Straits Quay - Photograph: straitsquay.com


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Do we need any further evidence of the widening income inequality in Malaysian society?

The Taman Tun Dr Awang blocks lie about 6km north of the Butterworth ferry terminal, along the coastline near Pantai Bersih, just opposite Dewan Panorama, facing the sea-front. Last Sunday, at this hall, they were distributing the RM500 to some of the low-income households from surrounding areas. The handouts were done under the auspices of the BN MP for Tasik Gelugor Nor Mohamed Yakcop, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the Economic Planning Unit. At least that’s what the banner at the back-drop of the stage proclaimed.

Local residents are so accustomed to the poor condition of these flats they don’t even give it a second glance as they stroll or drive past. But a couple of overseas visitors who passed by that area and felt sorry for the residents told me, “Please ask your government to do something about this.”

It is so easy to dish out money, but show us what you can do to really improve the living conditions of the low-income group.

I raised this issue at a workshop on housing in Penang attended by among others, the relevant state government officials, a couple of months ago. Can the state government do anything about it? How about sprucing up this area as part of the Cleaner, Greener Penang initiative?

The BN government cannot escape responsibility. Correct me if I am wrong, but this Taman comes under the Tasik Gelugor parliamentary constituency and the Teluk Air Tawar state seat, both held by the BN. These flats were built in the 1970s and this problem did not happen overnight. And the condition of these flats, at least the exterior, is getting worse.

Surely it won’t cost much to paint and spruce up the area. (There is also a litter problem in this area, MPSP.) What is the point of FDI, GDP, ETP and what-not, when ordinary people on the ground have to live in such conditions?

Won’t the politicians – at least those who could have done something about it but didn’t –¬†feel ashamed when they go around this area canvassing for votes in the coming general election? Malu-lah. Phaiseh-lah. Where to hide face?

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SamG

I have to disagree that ALL the people living in Low Cost Housing are Poor. Yes there are some poor folks…
Anil, next time you pass by these homes, look out for the no of ASTRO dishes on the buildings.
Look at the car park and you could see heavily modified cars too.

Kevin

You are most certainly right, that is precisely why the government, irrespective of the party they are or were from, should formulate a workable policy on low cost housing and later enforce it strictly. Eg. who should qualify for such housing?, what is the income limit?, how do you verify this income?, what are the restrictions (in sg HDB’s cannot have swimming pools or gyms or saunas), income treshold for paying maintenance fees and amont of such fees. Some of these regulations are already in place but are never enforced and sucject to abuse, scandals and disputes even amongst members… Read more »

LKH

Yes, we were quite taken aback by the number of astro dishes in certain low cost flats. Sometimes it just boils down to priorities. Repainting and other major repairs aside, which should be handled by the authorities, my personal observation is that many residents are just not civic minded and hence there is so much litter, graffiti etc Both adults and kids have still to be taught not to litter. Maybe it’s all in the mentality. One can live in a very small apartment and still have a pleasant living environment. If residents cooperate and keep the place clean, even… Read more »

Pretty Obvious

You get what you elect, period.

Uggies

This reflects :

a) Those who live in low cost housings become too dependent upon the authorities to maintain their physical surroundings. Broken lifts or drains or uncollected rubbishes for example.

b) Lower income folks don’t have enough to pay for maintenance fees.
So the government should know if minimum wage policies can help to improve such situations ?

ALSO, this proves the widening Genie Coefficients among the richs n poors in Malaysia after 54 years of Merdeka. In Penang, we can have a good contrast between these housings and those at Straits Quay.

VJ

Certain group of residents still have the ‘mentality’ that the government should provide everything. They do not pay tax, do not pay cukai pintu etc and also the monthly maintenance charges. Without the money for maintenance, the housing estate will become depilated and degenerated into a modern-day slum!

Kevin

Have to agree with Anil. I know and have heard of many people (including Malaysians) earning as low as RM 600 a month and yet have to look after aged parents. How do you expect them to pay the rent, quit rent, assestment, maintenance charge, electricity and water bill, healthcare bill and still put food on the table? Remember, most people do not choose to be poor or to be lazy but are forced into poverty by many circumstances like education, disease, disability etc. Please have some sympathy and empathy. Any of us could be like that one day and… Read more »

Yang

What Najib, Ammo & Barang Naik is interested is election propaganda and not the welfare of the people. What they do is to make sure that there are publicity and the current 500 publicity should last at least a few month as they bit by bit dish out the dole. Lets us not be fooled by these propaganda. Take the dole and do not simply vote BN but make sure they are Be End as it is your money any way. If Najib, Ammo and Barang Naik is voted in again, he would be taking the money back from you… Read more »

ANGRY

the whole of negeri sembilan is in a sorry state and BN govt not doing anything about it…..what a shame….BN call this negara menbangun….my foot….

Leena

There are a lot of areas that look like this and some even worse! Obviously, the previous state government had neglected certain responsibilities..now the current government has the mammoth task of cleaning everything up before the next general elections. but my question is: how efficient is the City Council and how serious are they in co-operating with the state government to better the lives of Penangites (island and mainland)? honestly, I have very little faith in both. From the way they’re handling environmental issues (I’m not talking about mere campaigns), it seems to be more about creating an IMAGE that… Read more »

SamG

1st Issue: If the residents DO PAY up their monthly maintenance then there would be some money to maintain these buildings. Albeit a small amount, it does help, and you are aware of it, Anil. Some time early of last year, LGE proposed to impose a Surcharge on Assessment for properties valued at more than RM1 milliomn. This money was suppose to be used for the poor & related to Low Cost Housing. When I met him in Hong Kong sometime in the middle of 2011, he did mention it would be a 2% surcharge. Suddenly the whole thing disappeared… Read more »

Leena

Does the Federal Government have something to do with this?

Kevin

There is actually no need for any surcharge. We have to understand that most people who stay in these sort of public housing cannot afford to pay maintenance fees like you and me. RM 10 or 50 may be nothing to us but it may be a weeks meal for these people. It is the governments responsibility to look after the less fortunate. They didn’t ask to be poor, most of them don’t have a choice and may not even have education or the physical ability to work like us. As far as I know, the local councils and the… Read more »