PDC objectifies eradicating poverty but instead eradicates the poor


A Letter from Jayaseelan, Penang

I myself live in a low-cost flat in River Road, Sungai Pinang. I stay in a 500sq ft unit together with my old parents, wife and two children. Thank God we get along well with each other and somehow we are able to live together happily although not so comfortably. At times, you can hear shouting in the houses of neighbours, children crying, wife getting beating and things being thrown around. I can only reassure my kids that “Someday papa will get you into a more comfortable place”.

My friend who lives in Taman Siakap share the same fate as me. He has even tried writing to PDC for assistance but he keeps getting reply letters with excuses. PDC blames the project administration committee and the project committee tells him to refer to PDC. About two weeks ago, he wrote a letter to TNB requesting for direct supply of electricty to Kompleks Taman Siakap but TNB has told him to write and get approval from PDC first as PDC owns the building.

Penang Development Corporation or Perbadanan Pembangunan Pulau Pinang, commonly called PDC, is a self-funding statutory body set up by the Penang State Government. It was established by the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu in 1971.

With the ever rising cost of living in Penang, those of us who do not earn a substantial monthly salary find it difficult to even keep our heads above the water. For many years the issue of affordable homes in Penang is being discussed. CM Lim Guan Eng whole heartedly pumps his chest and reassures us that the state government is taking this matter very seriously and is doing something drastic about it. Unfortunately, this assurance is only given to us during any election campaign period. Once the elections are over, everything slowly dies down and becomes alive again the next time an election is scheduled. Years have gone by, but we only hear assurance and excuses.

I still remember how CM Lim got ridiculed after the Auditor General (AG) report in 2010 showed that Lim’s administration failed to build even a single low-cost house since governing the state. Lim came out stamping the ground saying that he will build such houses so that we could at least afford to purchase one and not spend the rest of our lives renting. Since then, of course low-cost houses and flats were built but it was built just to keep our mouths shut. Most of these homes are built away from the island and other areas in a far-away land.

We live far away from schools with no proper public transport. The road conditions are poor, sanitation is horrendous and crime rates are escalating. Drains are often clogged and water pump houses are in a miserable state. Electricity and water supply to our area is often cut when we are late in paying the bills.

We plead with the authority to help us but none arrives. Our areas are becoming a ghetto. We are treated like second-class citizens in our own state and are thrown aside. Our cries are only heard during election period that is why I am writing this article. We are all like ping-pong balls. Writing letters here and there.

Yesterday I attended a speech from a PKR person who is talking about GST and how bad is GST affecting us. I tried to tell him that in our area we are not much bothered of GST. We are more interested in having a proper place to stay. But I was not given a chance to ask him. We are waiting for CM Lim to come to our area for the campaign to ask him directly. We do not want excuses anymore. We want someone to hear our cries. We need help!!

Barisan Nasional has given a lot of hope and promise to us to help develop our areas if they win the election. I do not know if they really will help us or not but maybe we should try them. We are not getting any help now anyway so for us whether PKR wins or not is no different. Maybe it will be different with BN. The previous BN government built affordable houses for only RM 42K to RM 80K and also constructed cheaper houses in Penang Island. Why is CM Lim’s affordable houses cost twice the amount? Most of us still cannot afford them.

Just because we are poor we should not be treated like rubbish. We are still citizens of this state. We are still Malaysians. Just because most of us are Malays and Indians we should not be treated this way!!