Saturday, December 15, 2012

Najib’s 20,000 affordable houses in Penang – Is it for real?

By Choo Sing Chye

Jestering about the return of the free port status in exchange for a Barisan Nasional’s victory in Penang had made its chief Teng Chang Yeow an undisputed local political clown.  I thought this title would be permanently etched in the minds of the people in Penang, but Najib had to butt in and go national.  

I genuinely pity Najib, none of his advisors including Teng Chang Yeow had any clue on the Penang housing problem.   Promising to build “not less than 20,000 units of affordable housing…in Penang,” (1) without knowing the fact that the same very State BN had earlier made a promise under the four Malaysia Plans spanning from 1976 to 1991 to build 39,279 houses, but only managed to deliver 5,484.  And it is even more clownish as this big “Promise” comes under the “Promises Fulfilled” banner. 

The table below shows low-cost housing units built by the State Government under the various Malaysia Plan (Penang Hansard)

                    Malaysia Plan

Units Built

3rd Malaysian Plan


4,279 units

2,422 units
4th Malaysian Plan
21,000 units
2,654 units
5th Malaysian Plan
14,000 units
140 units
6th Malaysian Plan
1991- to June 1994
No Targets
268 units

39,279 units
5,484 units

Najib, buoyed by his BN advisors’ flawed perception,  shoots out his mouth with a huge dose of pomposity,  “it is now open for registration online and these housing units will be priced below the market price so if the market price is RM500,000, it will be sold at RM300,000” (2).

Najib’s advisors should not be in the dark  and put their boss in an humiliating position.  These highly paid advisors should just leaf through the past records of the BN government, they would immediately know that the state government had another 3-year Special Low-Cost Housing Privatisation Programme of its own to build 41,080 low-cost housing units.  

This Programme was launched in 1986 and it was to be completed in 1989.   And in it, there were about 40,635  eligible applicants registered with the State Housing Department.   

Furthermore, this programme was backed  by a RM1.4 billion Special Low-Cost Housing Federal Fund set up by the Federal Government for the purpose of building low-cost homes from which the State Government could apply. 

Apparently BN being an incompetent government as it always shown to be,  it managed to build only 2,926 units(7 percent) out of the targeted 41,080, thus missing the golden opportunity to provide 41,080 Low-Cost houses  for the poor.  And shamefully, the 2,926 units were built over a period of 8 years and not 3 years as  targeted.

Now, the BN clowns have gone on a breast-beating show around Penang but they cannot hide the fact that they have lost the only once in a lifetime  opportunity to help the poor. 

The BN government should have fulfilled the targeted 41,080 Low-Cost House for the poor 14 years ago without much difficulties when the cost of  land, labour, and material was low. 

And furthermore, the majority of the poor in Penang at that time could definitely scrap through owning a RM 25,000 house.   But owning a RM 300,000 house is  way beyond their reach.  

Najib, do have some humility for the poor, the RM300,000 house is not for them.  Tell me Najib, when the  poor can afford to buy a RM 25,000 house 14 years ago, your BN government screwed up big time in fulfilling this pledge and only built 2,926 units.  

Now if we give the same opportunity of  low labour, land and material cost to Lim Guan Eng – he would definitely solve the housing problem hands down.

After the first three and the half years under Chief Minister, Dr Koh Tsu Koon, the State Government and its agencies were only able to built and complete 1,797 low-cost housing units. Below is the breakdown:

268 units built by the Penang State Government.
133 units by Penang Development Corporation (PDC).
690 units by Penang Regional Development Authority (PERDA).
706 units by Urban Development Authority (UDA).

All the above information  are sourced from the Penang Hansard 

All information were gathered during my work-visit to Penang in 1994 with the late P. Patto, to help out with the first Suara Tanjung 3 issue,.

I welcome intellectual comments.
If you want to comment please send your comments to  

Comments from Malaysia Today 
From Gilagila

Mr Choo Sing Chye, please look again. Your

columns of statistics under 
various malaysia plans. Are these 
PAN-MALAYSIAN or just applicable to Penang alone? 
Your answer will determine how I answer to the

above finding.

Dear Gilagila

I do not have an account with MT so I cannot answer you there.  I hope you would surf here. Sorry for the slight vagueness, I have included above the table with this to make clearer:  The table below shows low-cost housing units built by the State Government under the various Malaysia Plan (Penang Hansard).
Hoping for your reply.


1) Najib pledges 20,000 affordable houses, monorail for Penang.

    Malaysian Insider, 08-12-2012

2) Ibid.