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KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 ― Efforts to provide more affordable homes to the people and to take more firm action against operators of illegal plastic factories have been among the focus of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPKT) under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
Also given attention are the efforts towards strengthening the recruitment of firefighters and improving their welfare.
In the aspect of housing, the KPKT is now in the process of implementing the National Housing Policy (DRN) 2.0, and two other new policies, namely the National Affordable Housing Policy (DRMM) and the National Community Policy (DKN).
KPKT Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the construction of 100,000 units of affordable houses were targeted under the NAHP, with 13 projects involving 30,000 units were approved by the government this year.
“Under the DRN 2.0, we're talking more about smart development where we want houses to be equipped with smart technologies so that people may enjoy a better living, better monitoring and for us to have better management of the property as well,” she told the media recently regarding the ministry's performance for the past year.
Zuraida said focus would also be given to providing affordable homes for young couples and single individuals through the redevelopment of Bandar Malaysia project as announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on April 19.
“We have 10,000 units (of affordable homes) under the project, I want to look into the component for young people as well. We plan to allocate 30 per cent (of the units) to young people, single and those married with no children. The units are smaller, about 600 square feet probably with one room and serving as transit homes for them,” Zuraida said.
The development project in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur, is expected to have a gross development value of RM140 billion.
Also coming under the radar of the ministry are illegal plastic recycling factory operators who can expect stiffer penalties to curb the problem of illegal dumping of plastic waste faced by Malaysia.
Zuraida said the ministry was planning to amend the Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171) to increase the compound fines for errant operators to up to RM500,000 from the current RM300.
“There are some constraints when local government authorities want to take action against them as they only can issue compounds of up to RM300,” she said, adding that this was no deterrent for the operators.
“This is why we intend to amend Act 171 to impose a higher fine of up to RM500,000,” she said.
On local government elections, Zuraida said the ministry is in the midst of studying the best models for the purpose, besides gathering input from various quarters before the matter can be proposed to the Cabinet.
She said she had also met with Dr Mahathir to explain the existing local government election systems (in other countries).
“I told him we have three years to study the models and to campaign to the people (about the elections),” she said.
However, she said the final decision about the local government elections would depend on the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, Zuraida said the ministry was also planning to set up a Firefighters Recruitment Commission which would have the freedom in the recruitment and transfer of firefighters.
“It’s time to review the fire service scheme and to relook at their salary packages,” she said, noting that they were now under the purview of the Public Service Department (JPA).
“So when you want to revamp the fire service, it will involve 1.6 million (civil servants), this is not fair,” she said.
Zuraida also hoped the government would be more sympathetic towards firemen due to the nature of their job which appeared to have no specific scope. ― Bernama