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Affordable housing should be priority agenda of Sabah govt – Phoong

Photo for illustration purpose only.

1 May 2022

By Wartawan Nabalu News

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Government must not shy away from the increasingly expensive housing market in Malaysia, especially Sabah and instead make affordable housing a priority agenda for the youths, said DAP Secretary Phoong Jin Zhe.

Responding to a media report of a survey stating that 59 per cent of the youths fear that they can never own a home, Phoong said this is one of the many reasons why Sabahans move to West Malaysia or foreign countries as they could not afford a house in Sabah with their current earnings.

He quoted that the average household income in Sabah has reduced from RM 5,745 to RM 5,215 in 2020 while the average salary of Sabahans has also been reduced to RM 2,678 in 2020, lower than the national average of RM 2,933.

“The survey is part of the #Undi100Peratus campaign launched by Architects of Diversity (AOD), Undi18, and UndiNegaraku. The survey had 3,089 young respondents aged between 18 to 30 years old, among them, are 341 youths from Sabah and 224 youths from Sarawak.

“The first question of the ‘Youth Aspiration Manifesto Survey’ is ‘I fear that I will not be able to afford to purchase a home in my lifetime’. Nearly two-thirds of Malaysian youth fear that they are unable to purchase a home in their lifetime, this includes 63 per cent of youths from Sabah and Sarawak,” he said in a statement.

“This is worrying as our Sabahan youths are concerned over the increasingly expensive housing market in Malaysia, especially Sabah. The Malaysian House Price Index (MHPI) of Sabah increased 2.6 per cent while comparing 2021 to 2020, the average house price increased from RM 458,000 to RM 470,000. This is higher than the national average which is only at RM 435,000.”

While he urged the state government to tackle the issue, Phoong said he welcomes the recent announcement from the government to build a total of 1,500 units of SMJ houses worth RM70,000 each.

“However, I also urge the government to roll out more friendly and attractive policies to invite the private sector and developers to build more affordable housing for our youths.

“In this survey, 90 per cent Malaysian youths want the government to develop more affordable homes for young families, while 92 per cent youths from Sabah and Sarawak are also in the opinion that the government should build more housing designed for young people at a reasonable price by hook or by crook.”

Meanwhile, Phoong said if an individual wants to own a house in Sabah, assuming the house price is RM 470,000, it takes up to 15 years of average monthly salary to own an average home in Sabah.

“In comparison to a Negeri Sembilan working class, it would only take up to 8 years of average monthly salary to own an average home worth RM 273,483 in Negeri Sembilan. In Selangor, it takes up 12 years while in Johor it takes up 11 years, big cities like these are also not that worsened as Sabah.

“The market is filled with unsold luxurious houses but developers continue to build houses that are worth more than RM 400,000 to earn more profit. The government must introduce new policies that would encourage developers to build more affordable housing. Among ready housing policies, the Malaysia My Second Home program (MM2H) works by capitalising on offshore investment, which incentivises developers to build units above the RM 600,000 minimum pricing threshold,” he stressed.

Phoong said if the government can provide incentives for developers to build luxurious homes, it should also introduce policies that provide incentives for developers to build affordable homes.

“We cannot only rely on the government to build affordable housing, this is idealistic. The pragmatic way is to encourage major developers to make affordable housing their main agenda as well, to achieve a “win-win” situation, the government should provide incentives, tax exemptions and maybe offering government land for them to develop with terms and conditions.

“I would also like to recommend the Sabah government to leverage and convert under-utilised government and private buildings, such as abandoned shopping malls and hotels, and repurposing community assets to affordable homes.

“Governments must put more effort on urban renewal planning. We have many buildings in town that are declared dangerous, take this opportunity to convert them into mixed development projects or introduce a new satellite township. This is widely practised by many other countries.

“It is also high time for the government to adopt the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) idea. This is by ushering in modern and most importantly, reliable, and convenient public transportation for the public. People are mainly working in the city. By having modern public transportation, they can own houses in suburban areas at affordable prices but still not affect their daily lives. One stone killed two birds.

“The government must look into more holistic approaches to resolve this issue. The market price for housing has never been in line with their demand and supply, the government must look into establishing a mechanism to address this, only then, we can achieve price equilibrium for houses in Sabah.

“We do not wish to see more Sabahan talents leaving their homeland, Sabah, to pursue their dreams and career in other states or countries. The issue of brain drain is worsening, and housing is one of the main factors contributing to it, youths are anxious and pessimistic about building their future in Sabah. The government must act swiftly to restore hope for our younger generations and not sideline them while reviving the economy.”


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