One of the worrying things about Penang is the rising prices of houses, even as communities in certain areas are displaced.
Some of these problems are probably inherited. But where are the displaced residents going to move to? Can they afford to buy new homes?
Penang needs to have a housing policy that caters to the needs of its own residents. At the moment it seems like developers are building for foreign and outside speculators/’investors’ even as home ownership and property prices soar across the island.
One reason for the property investment or speculation is that bank interests rates are low, and the other is that regional investors still find Penang prices fairly cheap compared to say, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
But for many Penangites, home ownership prices have shot way beyond their budgets. And not just for working class Penangites.
Some time ago, there was talk about a housing body run or overseen by the state. In the past, the Penang Development Corporation used to play a decent role in providing affordable housing for the people. Are they as effective as they were in say, the 1970s and 80s?
With the wages that factory and even desk workers earn, coupled with the rising cost of living, how are they going to buy a home of their own?
This report from theSun:
Penang’s eight big headaches
By: By Himanshu Bhatt (Sun, 11 Jul 2010)
GEORGE TOWN (July 11, 2010): Eight urban kampungs facing eviction by new development projects in the Jelutong area here have been labelled as the “eight big headaches” of the state government.
While they all highlight the pressures faced by communities amid the rapid development on the island, Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi today decried certain quarters for using them to incite residents to go against the state.
He said all of the cases were in fact long-drawn affairs that had begun under the previous state administration.
“Many of these development issues were inherited. I hate to make reference to this matter but it is a fact,” he told a press conference at his service centre here.
Referring to a recent protest in which the state leadership was accused of not looking after interests of Malay communities, Ooi said the racial slant of the allegation was unwarranted.
“Of the eight cases, only two are Malay-majority villages. The rest are mostly Chinese,” he said.
He also noted that several of the cases had been taken to court, and as such, it would not be proper for the state to interfere at this juncture.
Ooi also pointed out that that he had helped residents facing a court ordered eviction notice obtain a three-month reprieve.
“The residents contacted me to negotiate for a reprieve of three months until after the fasting month and Hari Raya, and the developer agreed,” he said.
“We do not treat these cases as Malay, Chinese or Indian, but as Penang and Malaysian issues,” he stressed.
“It is very contentious by certain politicians to make this up to be a racial issue,” he added.
The communities include 36 families affected by expansion plans for Heng Ee school; more than 40 families asked to move due to a housing project at Yew Kongsi; more than 50 families behind the Perak Road market; 17 families beside Sri Wonder centre; 17 households at Jalan Pokok Asam; and 12 opposite Jalan Pokok Asam.
In addition, 70 households will be affected by land acquisition for a road to link Jalan Tan Sri Teh Ewe Lim to the Jelutong Expressway, while compensation for another eight houses for project at Jalan Madrasah has been resolved amicably. — theSun