The Penang state government has appointed building consultants and township developer Surbana, whose majority shareholder is Temasik, for a PDC affordable housing project in Batu Kawan.
Surbana started off as the Housing and Development Division of the Singapore Housing Development Board, which was established in 1960. The HDB’s first overseas foray was consultancy work in Indonesia in 1991.
In 2003, HDB’s Building and Development Division was corporatised as HDB Corporation Pte Ltd (HDBCorp). The following year, HDBCorp was acquired by Singapore government investment arm Temasek Holdings. HDBCorp was renamed Surbana Corporation Pte Ltd in a rebranding exercise in 2005.
As pointed out yesterday, the RM1.1bn from PDC’s sale of the Bayan Mutiara land is only trickling in. So it’s not clear how the RM500m allocated for affordable housing was transferred to PDC – unless we are talking about a future allocation or pledge.
No denying the quality of Singapore public housing (though prices of HDB flats have been rising there as well). But does this mean PDC is no longer – or was never – capable of building decent affordable housing on its own? And how much is the fee payable to Surbana?
The prices range from RM72500 to RM220000 – not exactly ‘low-cost’. In fact, there’s been a subtle shift in official terminology. They seem to have stopped talking about ‘low cost’ – now it is all ‘affordable’ housing. But are these flats going to be ‘affordable’ to the average production line worker, restaurant employee or security guard with a family to feed and educate? Where do they go?
Guan Eng’s speech today:
Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all those present here today to witness the Signing Of The Letter Of Commitment Of Appointment Of SURBANA INTERNATIONAL CONSULTANTS (MALAYSIA) SDN. BHD by the Penang State Government for the Affordable Homes project undertaken by the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) in Bandar Cassia, Batu Kawan.
The Penang State Government has appointed the Penang Development Corporation as the implementing agency to complete and provide quality affordable housing for the people of Penang. The State has transferred RM500 million from the Chief Minister’s Incorporated (CMI) to PDC under the State Affordable Home Fund set up last year. The monies for the fund came from the sale of the Bayan Mutiara mixed development project conducted via an open competitive tender. Since Penang became the first state in Malaysia to implement an open competitive tender system, Penang has benefited from choosing the best price with the best quality and coupled with the best maintenance.
Instead, of spending the people’s money to build government complexes in Bayan Mutiara, the PR state government has cancelled this project and decided to sell the land to obtain funding proceeds for social programmes such as affordable housing. This move demonstrates the State Government’s sincerity in providing affordable homes for the lower income groups in Penang and to live with human dignity. And this RM500 million is the largest amount ever allocated by any State Government in the country for this purpose.
This affordable housing scheme is the first in a series of affordable housing schemes that will be introduced by the State in both the mainland and island of Penang. This project is located in the mega township development of Bandar Cassia in Batu Kawan, Seberang Perai Selatan.
To deliver homes of the highest quality, the designs and concepts for this proposed scheme is being benchmarked against the Singapore Housing Development Board public housing schemes. Instead of imitating the original, the Penang state government has decided to choose the original which is why Surbana International Consultants has been chosen because of its outstanding record in the development of Singapore. As the Building & Development Division in the Housing & Development Board (HDB), Singapore’s Public Housing Authority, Surbana had provided integrated full suite consultancy services for Singapore’s public housing. In the last 50 years, Surbana and HDB have created over a million quality homes and 26 townships.
Incorporating the latest housing designs and standards, the Penang state government hopes to build at least 11,800 affordable homes that allows Penangites to live, work, learn and play in comfort and dignity. There will be football fields and green spaces for our children to grow up safely and healthily.
The above development is based on the concept of affordable quality lifestyle housing that promotes sustainable community living to foster good family values and neighbourliness. Emphasis will be given to building designs that promote social integration within the same building blocks with units of different sizes to cater for families of various sizes to accommodate various generations from the young to the elderly with facilities that are disable friendly.
The proposed scheme which will cover 5 parcels of land totalling 200 acres and will provide some 11,800 quality affordable residential units of 3 bedroom apartments housed within blocks of 9 – 20 stories. The price ranges from RM72,500 for apartments of 800 sq. feet to RM220,000 for larger units. 53% of these will be apartments of 1,000 sq ft and 24% will be apartments of 900 sq feet while the balance of 2,760 units is of 800 sq ft apartments.
Bandar Cassia in Batu Kawan will be developed over a period of 10-15 years and is poised to be the first green with excellent accessibility and connectivity to major highways, bridge links, ports and airport to Penang island. The key attraction of this development is a 40-acre linear park which provides a seamless link up of the 5 residential phases. Located within the community green spine are amenities like clubhouse, food courts, markets, surau and shops which are only 3-5 mins walk from residential blocks.
Apart from the linear park another total of 40 acres in open spaces will be provided for the individual precincts bringing total open spaces to 40% of total development. This development will incorporate sustainable eco-friendly features among others, efficient water and energy features and bus stops that are within short walking distance, sheltered walkways and bicycle path to minimise vehicular access.
Lastly, I will like to once again take the opportunity to welcome Surbana International Consultants to Penang. I am confident that the State Government’s effort to provide affordable quality homes with an integrated concept and design of international standards for the people of Penang will be realized soon and work on the project is expected to commence by the end of the year.
We want everyone in Penang to own their dream home. Even if we are poor, our homes should not be like cages for our kids. Our children deserve better. Penang deserve better. We aspire that great Penang dream of a home that is clean, green, safe and comfortable for your children to grow up with dignity. In Penang everyone can share this dream.