The unfortunate tale of PPR dwellers


PETALING JAYA: The People’s Housing Project (PPR) around the country has helped more Malaysians to have a place they can call home.

The initiative under the Government was a move to enable Malaysians who are among the urban poor to rent or even own a home of their own.

However, it has now become a bane more than a boon, as far as the issue of sanitation, maintenance and management of these dwellings are concerned.

From a personal observation, these PPR sites are far from heaven, let alone considered a decent place to live.

The unbearable rubbish odours, lack of parking and fear of break-ins are the nightmarish conditions that residents in one such PPR site in the Klang Valley have to live through daily.

The PPR Lembah Subang 1, managed by the Selangor Government, was recently highlighted by the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry for its poor living conditions.

Not only that, the residents also have to face overcrowding, with more than six persons living in a small flat in some cases.

A resident, Mohd Rosli, who has been living in PPR Lembah Subang 1 for almost 10 years, admitted that living at a PPR has its challenges, especially with eight children to support. Rosli earns a living by collecting used golf balls from a golf course at Kelana Jaya and selling it to golfers.

Rosli, 32, described the PPR flat he lives in as “bad”. However, he said, “It’s not like I have a choice, right?”

The problems at PPR flats have been highlighted many times in the media but Rosli believes that all of the issues will only go away once the residents change their mentality and become more responsible.

“The problem is rubbish and the resident’s mentality. Most of the time, they will simply throw rubbish from the top floor.

“Apart from that, faulty lifts are also a constant pain to residents. Now the lifts are working fine, thank God for that. Before this, the lifts used to break down at least once a month,” he told FMT.

The elevators were tainted with drawings, graffiti and grime aside from the unbearable stench and creaking noise made when in use.

As FMT’s journalist was speaking to Rosli, a bottle of urine was thrown from the top floor by an unidentified resident, creating a foul splash near the both of them. Rosli said this was a normal occurrence, especially when “outsiders” enter PPR Lembah Subang 1.

Another resident who wished to remained anonymous, pointed out that parking is a constant problem for those living there.

“There’s too little parking for the total number of residents here,” adding that almost every day the main road will be filled with cars double-parked by the road, and this makes it difficult for other vehicles to pass through.

He added that robbery and petty theft was also a common occurrence, pointing out that the rising crime rate could also be attributed to the drug addicts who stay or hang around in PPR Lembah Subang 1.

“I just bought a new motorcycle because mine was stolen earlier this week. In fact, this is the fourth motorcycle I’ve bought since I moved here.”

Unpaid rent

Meanwhile, Wong Yuet Leng, who is the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) exco in charge of the Lembah Subang 1 PPR, said that it is simply impossible to maintain the area because of the mentality of the people there.

“No matter how much we clean up the area, rubbish will continue to be strewn around.

“They don’t bother to pay the rental and management fees that are due every month, yet they put the blame on MBPJ for everything that is wrong in the PPR.

“They haven’t been paying for the past 10 years. In fact, some people are owing rent amounting to RM20,000.

When asked on the possibility of the residents not paying the fees because they are poor, Wong refuted, saying that not all residents are poor.

“Out of 10, maybe one or two are poor. Some residents even rent out their units to foreigners,” she said adding that residents are also known to steal electricity and water.

At another PPR, this time in Bukit Jalil, a woman who wished to be known as Meero said she now lives there alone after her sister passed away a few years ago. The Bukit Jalil PPR is managed by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

Meero, 79, has no job, hence, without any form of income, even a cheap flat like the PPR is a burden for her.

“I thank Allah for giving me helpful relatives who have been helping me financially all this while,” she said.

Meero had worked in her younger days but without any education, she found herself in a helpless situation once she grew older. Now that she’s getting weaker due to her old age, she can barely move around.

“I would really appreciate if the government or any NGOs could provide some assistance in my daily life.

“I appreciate the help I receive from my relatives. They will visit me two to three times a week and I am eternally grateful for that too, but at the same time, I don’t want to burden them,” she said.

FMT attempted to contact DBKL and MBPJ’s hotline, but was placed on hold for more than 10 minutes, without any response at all.

Previously, the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Noh Omar slammed the Selangor government for the “problematic” PPR management. He said that he would write an official letter to the state government, seeking to take over the management and maintenance of the state’s PPR buildings.

State Exco Iskandar Abdul Samad, who’s the state housing affairs committee chairman responded, saying that they will only hand over the management of PPR to the Federal government if RM8 million was reimbursed to the Selangor state government, that is the money that has already been spent for refurbishing the units since 2008.