Homes for votes – Jibby’s ‘cupboard love’ ploy

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Any realistic civil servant of limited means and a young family to feed probably won’t fail to recognise this ‘homes for votes’ offer as a bouquet of paper roses from the PM, says Rakyat Jelata.

ppa1m housing

People with a common hobby frequently get together to spend time discussing their hobby and exchange gossip on everyday issues. What drew peals of laughter among a circle of friends were these words by PM Najib Razak reported by The Malaysian Insider (18 April 2013 – “I have never forgotten the deeds of civil servants … if you love me, help me soon.”

These “sweet nothings” came loaded with the promise of providing housing for federal civil servants who have to travel between residential areas in Selangor and their work places in Putrajaya. Putrajaya land prices are apparently beyond their financial reach.

According to the online daily, the launch of the PPA1M, the civil servants 1Malaysia housing project, seems to be a reply to the challenge posed by Husam Musa, the Pas candidate for Putrajaya, who had criticised the BN Federal government for siting the project on more expensive real estate, instead of cheaper land in Bukit Damar, Dengkil nearby.

What tickled the friends were the overtures of ‘love’ that obviously arose from a motive to garner votes from federal civil servants, tied to a promise of housing provision which appears not to have been thought of by their federal employers, up to now. Possibly, this sudden declaration of ‘love’ for those ‘old faithfuls’ was prompted by the “I (heart) PM” banners waved by some in the crowd.

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Yet, the cupboard love was thinly veiled, as reports over the past months uncovered the dismal situation of civil servants being excluded from owning their own homes, due to salaries being barely sufficient to support their families.

How Najib could declare he never forgot their ‘deeds’ is beyond logic, unless he was implying that this 1Malaysia housing scheme was to ‘reward’ them for whatever ‘deeds’ done, more like the practice of warrior kings in ancient times, instead of a modern 21st century government!

The BN has so far shown the generosity of a liege lord who after a hard campaign and conquest of enemy territory, divides the spoils of war amongst his loyal followers and supporters. They are made barons and landowners of vast estates where they can collect rent from ‘tenants’, thus filling their own coffers. The acquisition of aristocracy enriched and empowered barons in feudal times as well as kept them ‘loyal’ to the ruler. Little thought was ever spared for the poverty and hardship faced by the serf or even the freeman.

Returning to the present, the minimum price of a home under the 1Malaysia scheme is RM150,000 and the maximum RM300,000 for an apartment of 1,000– 1,500 square feet. No doubt, these will be fairly spacious and luxurious, but it seems to have missed the mark on affordability. So who will live in these 1Malaysia houses – those in the higher echelons of the federal civil service?

The cheaper properties of about 750-800 square feet also cost from RM120,000 -RM150,000 and can’t comfortably house bigger families. So, it will not be worthwhile for lower-ranking civil servants to move to Putrajaya. The money saved may as well go towards transport costs travelling to work.

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Any realistic civil servant, of limited means and a young family to feed probably won’t fail to recognise this ‘homes for votes’ offer as a bouquet of paper roses from the PM, like a desperate suitor hoping to marry a rich heiress for the wealth she will inherit.

Well, Jibby, you should take your cupboard love elsewhere, cos’ your paper roses will soon only be good enough for the ‘tong sampah’!

Rakyat Jelata is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to our Thinking Allowed Online section.

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