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Thursday, May 31, 2018

How privatisation made life hell in low-cost flats

Too many people end up in one building and this affects living conditions and personal interaction, says architecture professor.
Low-cost flats should not be more than three storeys high, says architecture professor Tajuddin Rasdi. (Bernama pic)
PETALING JAYA: Mention the topic of low-cost flats, in and around Kuala Lumpur, and for many people the first thoughts are of litter-strewn floors, overpowering stench of urine and broken lifts.
How did a noble desire to provide affordable housing end up providing less than desirable living condition for residents? A professor of architecture blames it on privatisation.
“It was once the government’s responsibility to provide housing, and DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall) designed a lot of flats. This was all right,” says professor Tajuddin Rasdi of UCSI university’s school of architecture. “After some time, however, they decided to give all the work of developing houses to the private sector.”
Tajuddin said developers then ended up building more floors than necessary, to cut costs and maximise profit.
UCSI University Prof Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi.
Architectural research, however, suggests a maximum of three storeys for low-cost residential buildings. “Any more than three floors and you don’t recognise your neighbours, and that breaks society down,” he told FMT.
As apartment buildings became higher, personal relationships broke down. “I teach my students that every three storeys should be separated by a kind of common floor, so that you always feel like you are living in a three-storey building.”
He proposed that all blocks of flats, including those already built, be equipped with restricted-access lifts if there were more than three floors, to cater for those with special needs such as the old, infirm or pregnant women.
Tajuddin criticised as “arrogant” a remark by KL mayor Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz who was reported as saying that DBKL would look into the possibility of repairing lifts in flats, provided it had sufficient funds, otherwise, the lifts would be repaired next year.
“What does he think people living on the 10th floor will go through if he doesn’t take care of it this year?” said Tajuddin.
“I find his manner of speaking to be most disappointing for a public official. Don’t talk about when you have the time or when you have the money. You find the money!”
Tajuddin said it was important, especially under the new government, that civil servants be reminded of their roles and responsibilities to the people. -FMT

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