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" Housing in the New Millennium - Malaysian Perspective "
Ministry of Housing and Local Government
Vision 2020 calls for the formation of a Malaysian society that is fully developed in all dimensions, not only economically progressive but is also united, socially cohesive and just, politically stable, enjoys high quality of life, rich in social and spiritual values, proud and confident. These are the qualities that will create a united Malaysian nation with a confident society infused by strong moral and ethical values, living in a society that is democratic, liberal and tolerant in nature, caring, economically just and equitable, progressive and prosperous and in full possession of an economy that is competitive, dynamic, robust, resilient and socially just. The National Development Policy (NDP) under the Second Outline Perspective Plan (OPP2) sets the pace to fulfill that vision.
THE NATIONAL HOUSING POLICY
The objective of the housing policy is to ensure that all Malaysians, particularly the low income groups, have access to adequate and affordable shelter and related facilities. The national housing policy is emphasised through housing programmes and strategies outlined in the country's development plan. Housing development also emphasises the human settlement philosophy through the provision of social services and amenities as well as economic activities necessary for the attainment of better quality of life, national integration and unity.
HOUSING SCENARIO IN 2020
Major growth centres that will experience prolific growth in population and housing well above the national average are the Klang Valley encompassing Kuala Lumpur and its conurbation, Georgetown-Butterworth including its fringes, Johor Bahru-Pasir Gudang Industrial Zone, Ipoh-Lumut corridor and Melaka-Ayer Keroh region in the west coast; Temerloh-Mentakab and Kuantan-Kota Bharu corridor in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia; Kuching - Damak Laut, Sarikei - Sibu, Bintulu - Miri in Sarawak; and Kota Kinabalu - Klias Peninsula, Sandakan - Karamunsing, Tawau-Industrial Free Trade Zone ini Sabah. Due to rapid industralisation and urbanisation, these major growth centres will evolve into principal localities of economic opportunities, jobs and innovations and thus continuously attract more people and therefore, exert greater demand for housing and other social services. With improvements in the modern communication and provision of infrastructure, it is very likely many more localities in the eastern corridor will also develop into centres of employment and industralisation in the years ahead.
Past experiences have shown that the private sector is more inclined towards delivering medium and high cost houses in view of greater margins from that market segment. Public sector performance especially the low cost housing is affected by problems ranging from planning variables to implementation, such as frequent changes in the scope and location of projects, high development standards, delays in the issual of loans, difficulties faced in the retrieval of installments from buyers, high prices of land and provision of infrastructure. As an alternative, the Government has sought the cooperation of the private sector to address the housing needs of the lower income groups.
Formal housing activities as carried out by Government agencies and licensed developers are subject to planning processes and approvals by the relevant authorities before they are delivered in the market. According to housing stock data the formal housing units constituted only about 29% of the total stock accounted in 1991. It may be concluded that, in the past, the number of houses built by the informal sector, specifically those built by individuals within their own means, are substantially more but mostly of traditional or wooden type of houses in rural areas. Selangor and Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur have a higher proportion of formal housing units reflecting high demand for such houses in these two developed states. However, in recent years demand for contemporary houses has gain momentum in states like Johor, Melaka, Kedah, Negeri Sembilan, Pulau Pinang and Perak, and is expected to remain so until the nation reaches developed status by 2020.
Given that the country's economy is growing at an average rate of 7% per annum, the purchasing power of Malaysians are expected to rise with an anticipated increase in the level of income per capita from RM6,099 in 1990 to RM14,788 in 2000 and projected to reach RM25,000 in the year 2020. Simultaneously, the poverty situation in the country is also expected to improve with a decline of poverty rate from 17.1% to 6% and subsequently declining to 1.2% over the same period. With rising income and reduced poverty conditions, the consumption pattern is expected to change. A substantial proportion of Malaysian society will become more affluent and will be able to acquire quality houses with improved physical and social facilities.
The distribution of housing categories will also undergo changes in the years ahead. The present condominium and apartment type of housing in major cities will be widespread given the high cost of land and constraints on urban space to cope with housing demand.
Housing settlements of the future will have better communication networks and access linking work places and place of stay with modern transportation thus shortening travelling time. Sufficient supply of safe drinking water, neighbourhoods, shopping, schools, health care centres, advanced telecommunication networks, safe and efficient power supplies systems, efficient sewerage and sanitation systems and clean and efficient waste disposal will have to be provided. Towards preserving traditional, cultural and spiritual values housing settlements will feature sports and recreational centres, worship houses, modern community halls and play grounds.
PLANNING AND DESIGN FOR A TOTAL LIVING ENVIRONMENT
Rising prosperity will significantly change the social and political agenda over the period 2000 - 2020. An affluent society, especially in urban areas, will demand higher quality life with greater standard for environmental protection, better welfare for workers, and, of course, more and better civil society rights. The concept of sustainable cities will become the central focus of the day.
In the new millennium, the sustainability agenda would make Malaysia a nation of environmentally friendly citizens, respectful of biodiversity, concern about clear air, clean water, clean beaches and the protection of rainforests. In this respect, what the country sought in sustainable development is not "cities that can sustain themselves" but cities where the community's development needs are met without imposing unsustainable demands on local or global natural resources and systems. Thus the central focus of sustainable cities will be on the improvement of housing, living and working environment. Not only providing amenities like good roads, pedestrian underpasses, parks and public spaces but also "humanising" the city. It is more than providing amenities and their supporting infrastructures. It involves the planning and the design of healthy and sustainable living environment that will allow people to live in peace and harmony, able to exercise their creativity and converge with sense of security. It facilitates the access of all to goods and services produced by society, creating conditions that give priority to those who have less - especially the children, women, the elderly and disabled groups. It also includes the preservation of historical heritage and capitalisation of the natural assets which can help to provide the basis of a flourishing economy.
Presently, there are regulations and guidelines that are intended to manage growth and prevent inadvertent destruction. It is inevitable that conflicts may arise in the implementation of these laws and regulations. For example, the attempt to achieve one objective such as protection of the natural landscape, might clash with another objective, such as land reclamation for housing development, which may cause discrimination of minority groups. Whatever the combination of laws and regulations, they should be made to harmonise with one to another. Only then will the country able to protect and improve both the natural and the built-up environment.
Currently, many developers still pay little attention to the Government's comprehensive zoning programmes that would be tremendously useful to blend particular housing projects with their surrounding environment and nature. With a proper and comprehensive zoning plans, the overall development of housing projects can be designed to specify permitted land use, building height, density, floor areas, carrying capacity and building placement. The comprehensive zoning could determine the future use of city areas whether for residential, semi-commercial and commercial. It will prevent bulky buildings from depriving daylight and obstructing air movement. Although zoning is extremely important, it must be made appropriate to existing conditions. Non conforming uses will be permitted as long as the degree of nonconformity is not increased.
At present, planning is done by urban planners without much consultation with the people. Planning cannot be accomplished by planners operating in a vacuum. Improving quality of living environment requires the active participation of various groups in society. It requires the active participation of property owners, bankers, developers, architects, engineers, contractors, and others involved in real estates. It then requires the sanction of community group, civic organizations, elected and appointed public officials, and municipal employees. Planning after all is about change - preventing undesirable change and bringing desirable one. Thus, the scope can be broadened and the process to gear for greater transparency with the mechanism to obtain feedback from public needs to be introduced. Towards this end, the existing structural and local plans also need to be reviewed and positive values in new developments incorporated, to ensure quality living environment. To add to this, building design should also be ecologically responsive.
In the next century, there will be an increase in urban population. The growth of cities and megacities will significantly change the country's landscape as new urban form will replace rural and natural ones. Thus, a serious thought need to be given to these urban centres to make them energy efficient and sustainable. At the same time, it must reflect indigenous needs and identity. Socially, the population of these towns and cities might develop a wider gap between the haves and the have nots. This may pose a serious challenge to efforts in achieving a better living environment for all.
URBAN REJUVENATION AND REDEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
Malaysia, as with other South East Asian countries, has been facing rapid urbanisation and population growth. Her towns and cities have become more congested with rural migrants as well as natural population growth. Some parts of historic colonial cities like Georgetown, Kuala Lumpur and Melaka have started to decay with facilities which are old and inadequate to cope with the growing population of inner cities. Degradation in inner cities are to be rejuvenated by corporatised authorities such as Urban Development Holdings Sdn. Bhd and the local authorities concerned.
Due to lack of maintenance, scarcity of fund and existence of the Rent Control Act several buildings in the inner cities have deteriorated. In the Seventh Malaysia Plan (SMP) (1996 - 2000) about 60,000 unit have been estimated as replacement needs that are mostly directed to squatter resettlement. About 110,000 units are targeted as housing replacement under the Eighth Malaysia Plan (EMP) (2000 - 2005).
In rapidly growing major towns and cities in Selangor's Klang Valley, Johor, Pulau Pinang, Sabah, Sarawak and Selangor, low-cost housing for rent to squatters and families affected by urban renewal and development projects will be implemented. In this regard, to assist the State Governments and local authorities, the Federal Government will build the low-cost houses and transfer these houses to the local authorities to manage. Under this programme, an integrated low-cost housing project in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur will be launched in 1999, whereby a total of 35,000 units will be built as part of a strategy to resettle squatters. This scheme will be expanded to other major urban centres and in this regard, State Governments will allocate suitable land to expedite its implementation. For the long-term development of housing for squatter families, a nationwide study has been commissioned to formulate a national strategy to control, resettle and overcome squatter problems. The objective is to produce an integrated action plan and guidelines for the public and private sectors.
In the rural areas, where social organization and housing preferences differ from urban needs and lifestyle, the approach to housing delivery will be reviewed for more appropriate, marketable and affordable houses. In addition to access and density, the provision of rural housing will take cognizance of the need to preserve and retain traditional design and cultural practices. The existing financing facility under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Rural Housing Loan Scheme to assist rural people in renovating or building new houses using self-help, will be reviewed to increase its effectiveness. With regard to the housing needs of the rural poor, another 15,000 units will be built under the housing rehabilitation programme. The new growth centres and traditional village regrouping programmes will be reviewed to ensure the achievement of their objectives of urbanizing and modernizing rural settlements as the local focus of employment together with social and economic attractions, in order to reduce out-migration.
In the next millennium the Government will also focus on urban renewal programme in areas where economic progress has out grown the surrounding environment especially the older housing estates in the urban centres. Developers are urged to rejuvenate the town and city centres in order to provide people with new housing options and better family living.
INNOVATIVE DESIGN AND BUILDING TECHNOLOGY
For the new millennium, those involve in housing industry face the challenges of how to produce affordable and decent housing for the masses. Then there is the need to come up with new building materials and designs which promotes conservation. The focus should be more on quality housing rather than quantity so that residents can enjoy a higher standard of living in line with the nation's progress.
The Federal Government of Malaysia places great emphasis on research and development especially of cheaper alternatives to building materials which are indigenous so as to cut down on imports of foreign components. This will help in the delivery of more low cost homes for the lower income groups. In line with this, the Government in joint researches with local universities have carried out researches on finding innovative building materials and resource saving designs for houses and buildings.
A more sophisticated society will resist anything homogenous or monotonous lifestyle and tastes. They demand more choices in the buildings where they live. At present, house buyers are likely to take whatever that is offered by the developers in the housing market. By the next millennium, house buyers are likely to have more right to express their own individuality. Housing industry needs to cater to customer's needs. Customer satisfaction is the priority of the day. A challenge for the housing industry is how to adopt modern construction technology and management to cater for customization without sacrificing economies of scale. Higher standard of living also means higher demand for quality homes. It is not suprising that developers in future will emphasise quality as the most important priority. There will be growing need for developers and contractors to implement quality assurance systems modeled after international standard ISO 9000.
With the development of the Multimedia Super Corridor Concept, intelligent cities and telecommuting inevitably become part of urban living. Thus future houses need to have the necessary power points, audio and video connections. House design, internal space and layout must be planned properly to enable for creation of the smart home and interactive functions at home for business, private and Government related transactions, education and recreation. Automation system will become the house's brain, linking together every electronic function in the housing estate. The gadget in smart homes will also link security, communication, lighting and entertainment. Automation would enable the owner to control the use of the equipment at home before reaching home or from a distant place.
House renovation can be considered as part of Malaysian culture. Normally, buyers do not have a say in houses they bought at the design stage. House renovation can be translated as buyers' wish to participate in designing their houses. Such renovation raises the question how to adequately address the need by developing adaptable house designs within a systematic construction schedules. In the next millennium, house buyers should be consulted at the design stage. By so doing buyers or tenants will be allowed to express their identities as well as catering to changing family needs at the very early stage.
Martin and March (1972) proved that it is possible to achieve very high densities in housing through three to four storey structures. Through a study of Manhattan, in New York, Martin indicates that by rearranging the relationship between land, the built form and road system, it is possible to redistribute a few square blocks of Manhattan skyscrapers into a series of six to eight storey structure, with ample open space. Thus in the next millennium, Malaysia should find ways of designing low-rise high density housing. We do not wish to see the repeat of what happened in Europe in 1970s where high rise building are demolished in order to construct low-rise dwellings.
The objective of the Seventh Malaysia Plan is to provide accessibility to the low income group to affordable and quality housing. In order to achieve better housing delivery and better quality housing, the housing construction process need to be changed. The present construction process is slow. The idea of introducing the modular co-ordination was introduced in the 1980s, but it has taken root only lately under the zero defect programme. Modular co-ordination system will be pursued aggressively in next millennium in order to make housing delivery be more efficient since components can be systematically factory-built and installed on site. This will help to reduce the industry's dependence on foreign labour. For this purpose, open industrialised buildings system will be used. All buildings are to be designed according to modular co-ordination principles as laid down in Malaysian Construction Industry Standard 1 and 2.
Open industralised system makes housing construction system more flexible and replacement of parts less troublesome. It may possibly develop kit houses which people can assemble themselves during the weekend. Housing quality is guaranteed since a small contractor in a minor town can construct houses of same quality as the bigger contractors do in the major towns and cities. Besides, allowing better stock management, it will allow Malaysian developers to export components or build for the overseas market.
There are many researches on the implementation of low-cost housing throughout the world. The Government could use the result findings for implementation in the country, especially for designing comfortable houses than can conserve energy by incorporating tropical features and better utilization of house compound.
At present, there are obstacles for the introduction of new technologies. The pioneer who introduces new technologies, normally has to bear risk of failure, besides developer and customer education costs, while subsequent adopters and adapters do not. This tend to discourage anyone from introducing new technologies. The Government needs to create some policy support to reduce the initial costs for such pioneers. Policy assurance will include direct and indirect subsidies like lower land prices and pioneer status for certain years, for those involved in developing new technologies.
The usage of steel in housing construction should be given emphasis. A study needs to be carried out to find out cost benefit of using steel versus other conventional materials. If it is found that using steel is more costly, policy remedies or a range of incentives should be given for local production. Toward this end, training should be given to enhance skill for steel construction workers.
HOUSING POLICY & ADMINISTRATION
In Malaysia, the national housing policy is emphasized through housing strategies and programmes outlined in the country's development plan which is revised every five years. Towards achieving the objective of national housing policy the Government has formulated various strategies and programmes, created the necessary legislation, established public institutions and instruments to assist the housing sector.
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government plays the vital advisory role and, through the Town and Country Planning Act 1976, provides the policies and framework for urban planning by considering land allocation, population density, layout plans and overall physical development. The Ministry also enforces its policies through various other Acts such as Local Government Act 1976; Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974; Town Planning Act 1995; Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) Act 1966; Strata Tittles Act 1985; Fire Services Act 1988 and Sewerage Services Act 1993.
Of basic importance is the public sector low-cost housing programme through which both the Federal and State Governments have co-operated to implement numerous low-cost housing projects. In this undertaking the State Governments identify and allocate suitable lands, assisted by the Ministry'sNational Housing Department in tender procedures and the supervision of the physical implementation of housing projects. It is the State Governments responsibility to identify eligible buyers and make the necessary arrangements to extend end financing facilities. From the Third Malaysia Plan up to the Seventh Malaysia Plan, a total of 181,311 of low cost units were constructed by the Public Sector.
3rd Plan4th Plan5th Plan6th Plan7th Plan 73,500 176,50042,88024,43029,000 26,25071,31026,17210,66946,910 346,310 181,311
Besides State Governments, some other Government agencies are also active in the provision of housing. The UDA Holdings Sdn Bhd, a corporatised former statutory body, various State Economic Development Corporations, Land and Regional Development Authorities are among agencies which also undertake housing development projects. However, their operations are mainly in the urban and semi-urban areas. In addition, the Government also encourages various co-operatives to build and sell houses to their members as well as to the public. To facilitate this, the Housing Developers Act exempts co-operative societies and Government Agencies engaged in housing development from having to obtain housing developer's license and sales and advertising permits.
The Ministry of Housing & Local Government hosts a number of councils as well as forums to ensure greater cooperation between public and private sectors in the housing industry and to ensure a smoother implementation of housing policies and strategies. The Ministry plays an active role in establishing directions for housing in national development plans by setting housing targets in taking into consideration such factors as housing needs, population growth, formation of household size, construction capacity and programmes required for public and private sectors.
The Seventh Malaysia Plan has an ambitious target of 800,000 units planned for construction with 230,000 units to be delivered by the public sector and 570,000 units by the private sector. Of most importance is the provision of low-cost housing for the hard-core poor, especially in the urban centres.
The Government hopes to achieve national unity through a more equitable share in ownership of houses. However, besides house ownership, rentals of low cost houses are specially provided for those who are unable or not yet ready to own house.
As part of the back-up programmes to make housing affordable and accessible to as many Malaysians as possible, the Government has also introduced various policies and restrictions on foreign buying as well as measures to discourage speculative activities.
In spite of the laudable efforts of the Government, by and large, the performances of both the public and private sectors were below the estimated targets - with the private sector achieving by the public sector. Although it is important to achieve the housing target, in particular in the low and medium-cost categories, equally by significant is the need to protect house buyers through proper regulations enforcing standards and controlling practices of the housing industry in a clear and transparent way.
This would further help the housing industry because then the legitimate housing developers would gain credibility and public confidence. It is felt that the targets set can be fully achieved by the private sector through the provision of greater incentives and Government support, aimed at reducing the cost of production of low and medium-cost housing.
Squatter problems in developing countries have always created numerous social, economic and political problems for the Governments concerned. For the coming millennium, the Government of Malaysia has already started a comprehensive study of the squatter problem in the country and a data base to manage squatters will be used to eventually reduce the number of squatters by the year 2005. Through control of the number of squatters, the Government ensures that living and housing conditions in cities in the new millennium will not deteriorate similar to the urban slums or ghettos in some of the developed countries.
The building of low cost, low medium cost and affordable housing will continue to be accorded priority by the Government through the next millennium. In the distribution of low cost housing units, a computerised open registration system of intended buyers have been used by State Governments. With the computerised system, selection of eligible buyers, the risks of houses going to the wrong and undeserving target groups will be eliminated. It is hoped that more deserving target groups will enjoy low cost housing.
HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY AND DISABLED
In Malaysia, the definition of elderly is anyone above 60 years of age. At present only 4% of the population is defined as elderly and envisaged to increase as better medical and health care increase life expectancy. At present, life expectancy for man and woman is 70 and 74 respectively. However, with better living standards and health services, the life expectancy is projected to be 80 by the year 2020. Malaysian is currently a young nation but by the year 2005 it will turn into an aging society.
The implications of an aging society are varied and far reaching and Malaysia has already taken steps to provide for the elderly. The National Policy on the Elderly outlines various programmes to enable the elderly to live more comfortably. Among them are:-
Existing and future houses are to have facilities for the elderly and the disabled such as ramps and ample circulation areas to maneuver wheelchairs. Wider spaces are to be allocated for the building of toilets to enable better mobility of elderly citizens who are wheelchair bound. Public buildings such as supermarkets and shopping centers have already started providing facilities for the elderly.
Families are encouraged to take care of the elderly. The Asian extended family system will be encouraged to continue, with incentives to support families to look after their elderly.
Health facilities for the elderly is to be made available in terms of easier access for the elderly to such medical care in hospitals and clinics.
The mass and electronic media are to play a more effective role in educating the public about the aged and their needs. This will prepare the younger generation to be more sensitive to the needs of the elderly.
Research to be carried out for a more detailed understanding and planning for the elderly to lead a more comfortable life in the new millennium.
For elderly Malaysians who are dependent on their children, they have no choice but to live with them. The Government has to look at incentives and financial support for families who have to look after their aged parents such as income-tax relief and subsidised medication.
On the other hand, for those who are financially capable, Malaysia should also start to plan for housing for the elderly in the way of advanced countries. Those who are financially capable may opt not to live with their children. Retirement resort homes such as those in the United States, sell on lifestyles where the elderly can spend their last few years in comfort. These resort retirement homes provide a lot of facilities which are most important to the elderly such as health care, recreational facilities, housekeeping etc.
For the new millennium, Malaysia may see more of such resort homes being offered as more and more Malaysians become more affluent and wish to be independent even in their old age. They may prefer to spend their time in the company of people in the same age groups, with facilities for leisure and recreation as well as easy access to medical care. The needs of the elderly should be studied and planned now so that they can be more comfortable in their homes in the new millennium. The elderly should be given opportunities to live in relatively flat, topographical areas where they need not climb unnecessarily, areas where they can be safe as they are more vulnerable to be robbed and easy accessibility to places of worship, medical facilities, supermarkets and public transport.
ESTATE MANAGEMENT AND MAINTENANCE
As the millennium approaches and land becomes more scarce, the competitive use of land will cause price to rise thereby making the building of more high rise buildings and apartments more imperative especially in cities and urban areas. The problem of maintenance and upkeep of these buildings are and will continue to be difficult and become more complex. At present, developers manage condominiums and apartments before they are handed over to individual buyers before the issuance of individual titles. A nominal sum for the maintenance and upkeep of common property will be imposed by the developer but in practice majority purchasers do not pay up. The developers may cut off water or electricity supply to the individual units when these purchasers do not pay up their fees but this is not normally done and problems arise when developers do not maintain the common property because of lack of funds. When individual titles are given over to the owners, the developers surrender the maintenance of common property over to a management corporation which is normally run by volunteers among residents. Problems faced by management corporations are usually those of collection of maintenance fees for common property which many residents feel are excessive.
It has been proposed that a housing inventory be introduced in the future to enable State Governments to maintain a proper programme of repair works so that public flats and apartments be maintained properly. For the future too, management corporations should be left to professionals so that proper maintenance work can be carried out regularly. To avoid problems of collection of service charges for maintenance, it has been proposed that a sinking fund be created where costs of several maintenance services are incorporated into the costs of houses. This will help reduce the burden on residents to pay for maintenance costs on common property as well as paying for their quit rents and assessment fees which many felt were excessive.
The vision for the new millennium will be for properly run condominium and apartments which are kept clean and in proper condition so that all residents can benefit from a high standard of living. A professionally run management corporation for high rise buildings and apartments will reduce a lot of headaches for residents who have to pay management corporation fees at present but still did not receive the kind of services they paid for.
Local authorities which receive revenue from assessment fees, business licenses and summonses should up-keep the maintenance of common areas in high rise flats. The younger generation should be prepared to stay in flats and to help maintain the cleanliness in the area. Education, legislation and enforcement should be emphasized for the new millennium.
The challenges facing Malaysia in the new millennium in providing decent and affordable housing to the people especially the low income groups are myriad and varied such as population growth and changes in income and property levels. Malaysia will not only strive to provide enough houses for everyone but aims to provide quality housing in a sustainable environment where Man can live and work in harmony with Nature. Environmental protection and preservation will be given priority in all aspects of housing and urban development. For cities which are growing old and congested, efforts will be made to rejuvenate and redevelop them into centres of vibrant commercial growth while preserving the culture peculiar to each, such as in Melaka and Pulau Pinang. As the nation grows, the needs of the elderly will be given attention so that the aged can lead a more meaningful and comfortable life and contribute to society as useful citizens. The Malaysian Government will formulate policies which will promote the housing and building industry as well as regulate the manner in which the players in the industry can carry out their business in a professional manner so that house buyers will not be exploited. In the same way, estate management and maintenance will also be regulated to ensure quality housing for all.
Ministry of Housing and Local Government
Dikemaskini pada 8 Jul 2011
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