Leaked letter causes uproar

The Penang gover­n­­ment is under fire over a leaked letter on affordable housing, which states that only one Malay and 32 Chinese applicants will be offered RM300,000 units in Bayan Lepas.

A photograph of the letter, dated May 13 from the state secretariat to a property developer, was shared on several blogs and on Facebook.

Many people wrote scathing comments in response. On one Facebook page, the letter was shared more than 1,700 times and drew hundreds of comments.

Most of them derided the state government for the disparity.

Many said they were shocked that only a single Malay applicant got approval and expressed fears that the community was being sidelined in Penang.

The letter, signed by a senior officer in the state secretariat’s housing division, instructed the developer to issue offer letters to the approved applicants.

State Housing Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo confirmed the letter and called for calm.

“This is only the first batch of applicants who qualified for the total of 2,685 affordable housing units in this project. We received 238 applications and the rest are still being processed,” he said.

Jagdeep declined to comment on the large difference between the number of Malay and Chinese applicants who qualified in the first batch. No Indians were on the list.

He said there were still many other units available and invited those interested to apply at erumah.penang.gov.my.

Pulau Betong assemblyman Muhamad Farid Saad said he was puzzled over the letter.

He said a house costing RM300,000 was not expensive, citing units in recent housing projects by the Penang Regional Develop­ment Authority on wakaf land which cost RM350,000 each.

“The Perda units were fully booked within a day. I doubt that so few Malays applied that the state government can only approve one in the first batch,” said Farid, who also questioned the absence of successful Indian applicants.

International Real Estate Federation national vice-president Michael Geh said he was not surprised by the results of the affordable home qualifiers.

“A recent national survey on affordability showed that 60% of our urban population earned RM5,000 a month and below. They can only get loans for homes of up to RM200,000.

“Generally, banking guidelines are such that only married couples with a combined income of at least RM10,000 can afford homes of RM300,000 to RM400,000,” said Geh. - By The Star

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