Guan Eng: What’s wrong with giving Penang people priority in housing?

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says there is nothing wrong with the state government’s housing policy.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today defended a rule by the state government requiring house buyers to be registered voters in Penang before they are able to own affordable homes.

In response to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s criticism of the requirement, Lim asked if there was anything wrong with the state imposing such a rule.

Lim said the state government needed to take care of Penangites first.

Affordable homes in Penang range between RM42,000 and RM300,000.

“Najib asked how can we make it compulsory for all house buyers to be voters in Penang. We put down such a requirement because we want to ensure each buyer is a Penangite.

“Penang is ‘cun’ (awesome). What is wrong with that (such a policy)?” Lim said when launching the Air Putih election operations centre at its service centre here today.

Present were Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari, Penang DAP chairman Chow Kon Yeow, Lim’s political secretary as well as Air Itam assemblyman Wong Hon Wai, as well as other Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders and DAP members.

Najib had criticised the requirement imposed by Penang and Selangor as he claimed it had resulted in additional costs for house buyers and developers.

The New Sunday Times reported the prime minister as saying that the requirement was bizarre. Najib said this after the launch of the nine-day “Ekspo Jualan Perumahan — Ke Arah Sejuta Impian” housing exhibition at the Putra World Trade Centre.

Najib had also said that if Barisan Nasional (BN) were to retake Penang, it would do away with such a policy, which would mean outsiders could also buy affordable and low-cost homes.

In response, Lim said: “Let Penangites decide whether they want the state government to take care of Penangites or they want the state to take care of the whole of Malaysia.

“We cannot afford to take care of the entire country. We can only take care of Penang.”

Lim said BN had claimed it built many Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia (PR1MA) houses in Penang — 1,017 units in Permatang Pauh, 1,248 units in Batu Feringghi and 2,387 units in Bukit Gelugor.

“I wish to ask Najib: are the houses there? All those units he mentioned. There is none. Not a single unit. Zero. Nothing.”

At another function later, Lim hit out at Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi over the government’s monthly “Jualan Sentuhan Rakyat” programme, which offers daily necessities at prices below market rate.

Contrary to Zahid’s contention that the holding of such programmes showed the government’s care for the people, Lim said it instead showed the federal government’s failure in economic management.

“The government has failed to control inflation and control prices of goods from rising. You go to the markets now and you will hear people complaining about how high the prices of goods are. RM5 will not get you much.

“Why carry out such a programme when it is only once a month? People do not buy food items once a month but on a daily basis. They are like ravenous tigers.

“Don’t use this programme to show that BN is considerate. It is simply your failure in managing the economy,” Lim added.