Affordable housing is a lottery ticket, says Wong Chen

Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar – October 17, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Providing affordable housing is an ineffective way of channelling money to the country’s poor, according to PKR commerce and investment bureau chief Wong Chen.

Speaking at a Facebook live discussion hosted by iMoney.my today, Wong Chen said the problem with affordable housing was that there was no way to build enough houses for the number of people needing them.

“Assume there are a million families in Malaysia that need affordable housing based on the number of BR1M recipients. Who is going to be able to build enough houses for all these people?

“Not even China can build 100,000 houses a year so let’s assume the government can hit at least 10,000 units a year – and that’s a lot – that’s still only 1% of the million people who need it,” he said. “Affordable housing is like lottery.”

He said when such lucky draw type of policies existed, corruption would also be rampant.

“It’s easy to think of corruption when you’re talking about affordable housing. All you have to do is to ‘kautim’ with somebody to bump you ahead in the line.”

Wong Chen said another thing that people had to keep in mind was that developers were not in the business of charity.

“Developers are not working for charity purposes so you have situations where they are supposed to install a six-inch pipe and instead they only install a four-inch pipe.

“I’ve got hardcore poor in my constituency living in flats which are breaking down and that’s what happens with affordable housing: not only is it a lucky draw, the prize is also terrible.”

Also present at the talk was prominent economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram who disagreed with Wong Chen, saying control over land was important, making affordable housing important.

“The problem is that access to land is controlled and abused by politicians, and politicians are often in bed with developers.

“I agree that there are a lot of problems with substandard housing, but it doesn’t mean those problems are insoluble.”

Wong Chen, however, stuck to his guns saying that if RM10 billion were to be spent on affordable housing, that money could be better used to ensure at least fewer Malaysians needed affordable housing in the first place.

“Pump that RM10 billion into wage increases because if your wages are higher across the board then at least it serves a million of those poor as opposed to the 1% who win those lucky tickets.

“A better use of that RM10 billion would be to reduce that 1 million poor to 100,000.

“Of course the government has a duty towards the people who are truly poor but those numbers have to come down first.”

Source : http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/…/affordable-housing-is-a…/

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