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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Cameron Highlands folk call for ‘long overdue’ affordable homes


Many PR1MA apartments at Tanah Rata are said to have been snapped up by investors who turned them into tourist lodgings.

PETALING JAYA: A group in Cameron Highlands wants the government to allocate funds for new affordable housing, as the last low-cost flats were built nearly 40 years ago and many families in the low-income category have been priced out of newer projects.

The Affordable Housing Group Cameron Highlands, backed by Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), has circulated a petition to the government as part of their request for new low-cost housing in the area.

PSM secretary-general A Sivarajan, told FMT that there are “more than 1,000 B40 families in the Cameron Highlands area” who would benefit from new affordable housing.

Two developments under the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Project (PR1MA) have been built, but the starting price of RM200,000 is far too high for most B40 earners.

“If you look at Selangor, low-cost housing can start at RM42,000, but in Cameron Highlands, there’s no such housing. New social housing needs to be subsidised by the government so that people can buy them at a price of around RM42,000-RM50,000, which is comparable to other places.”

He said that people can’t be expected to rent forever, and thus subsidised purchase agreements were preferred.

Tanah Rata assemblyman Chiong Yoke Kong backed the proposal, and called the need for new B40 housing “very urgent”.

He said units at current PR1MA developments could cost as much as RM400,000 once developers adjust for demand, with many of the flats snapped up by investors who later turn them into tourist homestays.

“You can see the parking spaces at PR1MA Tanah Rata are always full of tourists’ cars during public holidays and weekends. My office has received a lot of complaints from the local residents about it.”

He added that one reason new PPR housing hadn’t been provided is the increased cost of building in Cameron Highlands, a Special Management Area, which has made building anything in the area “much more costly than lowland development.”

Chiong said communication and coordination between stakeholders is needed to ensure any project is built in a sustainable manner that takes environmental concerns into account.

Cameron Highlands MP Ramli Mohd Nor did not respond to FMT’s requests for comment. - FMT

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