Middle and low-income earning Malays and Indians feel like they are being 'bombed out' of Penang as a result of spiralling housing costs.
Athi Shankar, FMT
GEORGE TOWN: Two Malay men, while walking to their car after a movie, were overheard expressing their frustrations on the most pressing issue in Penang today – property prices.
“It’s difficult to run a business and live in Penang today. Rental is so high. Housing price also so high. Previously, under BN [Barisan Nasional], we can afford to buy a decent landed home. Now forget it. We can’t secure a housing loan with our salary,” said one man.
To which the other replied: “Yeah, people like us can’t afford to buy a landed property in Penang anymore. The price is ridiculous. The DAP wants to turn Penang, especially the island, into a rich man’s area. It wants to chase out locals like us and bring in rich outsiders.”
Both concurred that in the next general election they “may vote for BN”.
The conversation is not an isolated one in Penang where rumblings of discontent over spiralling property prices on the island are rapidly gaining momentum.
Many local residents, especially middle and low-income earning Malays and Indians feel that they are being “bombed out with ringgit” from their home state.
Their grouses are valid.
Single-storey terrace houses with three rooms that used to cost between RM200,000 and RM300,000 before 2008 are now being marketed for between RM450,000 and RM650,000.
Previously, landed homes above RM450,000 in Batu Maung, Bayan Lepas and Balik Pulau are now being offered at unthinkable prices.
A landed property in Air Itam that was priced at RM300,000 before the 2008 general election, was recently sold for RM1 million.
This is happening in Penang under Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s Pakatan Rakyat administration.
Pakatan yet to justify cost rise
Strategically, if BN campaigners were to play up the issue, it will surely be the end of DAP in the coming general election.
Until today neither Lim nor any of his comrades-in-arm, or for that matter DAP’s cyber-troopers, have justified the escalating property prices with valid reasons.
The cybertroopers have only thus far routinely cited the supply demand factor and high cost of building materials as reasons for the inflated property prices.
But those reasons were always there even before Pakatan ruled Penang.
Moreover, if it is true that the supply-demand forces were the main factor, one can only blame the state government.
It should have established a legal mechanism to prevent unscrupulous developers and speculators from manipulating property prices for profiteering purposes at the expense of the poor lay public.
Aren’t land matters very much under the state powers?
Shouldn’t any government of the day, especially the self-righteous DAP, uphold the universal principle of land and housing rights being fundamental human rights issues, and not business commodities?
At a recent function, a DAP politician was heard saying that poor Penangites would have to move to the mainland in future because the island would be exclusively for the rich.
It’s heartbreaking to think that this is happening under the DAP-led state government.
DAP is supposed to uphold socialist ideals and the party still belongs to the international socialist community.