090311 | Bukit Mertajam, Penang
I refer to report in the Star on the Federal Government’s My First Home Scheme launched by the Prime Minister. The scheme is to enable young working adults to obtain upto 100% financing to buy their first home.
This is yet another populist program of the UMNO-Barisan Nasional government intending to provide short term solutions and cover-ups to a long-term major social problem.
Housing is a universal human rights. The United Nations’ Habitat Agenda states that “Governments should take appropriate action in order to promote, protect and ensure the full and progressive realization of the right to adequate housing”.
In Malaysia, the rising property price has been a long-time problem. Unplanned urbanization has encouraged mass migration of workers, especially young people, to cities seeking economic opportunities. Property prices have not been subjected to any government control and hence, driving up the cost of housing in the crowded cities of our nation. Government public housing schemes on the other hand are poorly managed, resulting in many of these houses in bad conditions due to years of neglect and abuse of the system by cronies who received public housings only to rent them out to others, mainly foreigners.
Recent reports showed that 60% of Malaysian households are earning a monthly income of less than RM3000 while 40% of the households are living with an average monthly income of RM1500. Through this latest scheme, instead of addressing the issue of soaring property prices and being responsible as a government to provide affordable housing, the government is encouraging Malaysians to take up more debts. With the rising cost of living especially in cities, the Government’s latest program will drive up debts of the already debt-laden Malaysian families. The Prime Minister’s latest move can only continue to benefit property developers and the banks without solving the problems faced by the average Malaysians.
Rather than allowing the market to dictate on such basic necessity as housings, the government should take on a more proactive role in providing affordable and quality housing for the people. It should also upgrade existing public housing schemes. In summary, the government should do a total review of the national housing policy to address the problem of housing and not drive Malaysians, especially young people into more debts.
Treasurer, DAPSY Penang
Head of DAP Penang Gender Justice & Social Development Bureau