Use city land to build affordable homes, urges former Sabah minister

The Sabah Town and Housing Development Board has been asked to identify state land in urban areas for affordable housing projects. (Facebook pic)

KOTA KINABALU: A former state minister today urged the Sabah government to freeze the commercialisation of state land within urban areas, and reserve the land for affordable government housing projects instead.

Masidi Manjun (PPBM-Karanaan) told the state assembly sitting this would give civil servants and ordinary folk an opportunity to own homes.

The former state tourism, culture and environment minister suggested that the Sabah government develop the affordable housing schemes on state land instead of going into joint ventures with the private sector.

“These schemes would indirectly subsidise the price of houses for ordinary folk because the land is owned by the government,” he suggested to Deputy Chief Minister Jaujan Sambakong, who is also the state housing and local government minister.

In response, Jaujan agreed with Masidi’s suggestion, saying that he had already instructed the Sabah Town and Housing Development Board to identify state land in urban areas for affordable housing projects.

In the past, he said government agencies that owned land utilised most of their land bank for commercial and housing development on a joint venture basis with private developers.

“The developers have to construct and sell their houses at a high price in order to recover their investments and make handsome profits.

“The developers have to come up with the development cost themselves as the government contribution to the joint venture is just the land.

“On the flip side, government agencies need to generate revenue for their administrative and operational expenses. So, the government needs to monetise land to generate maximum revenue,” Masidi told FMT after the sitting.

He added that the biggest contributor to the rising cost of houses in the state’s capital was the scarcity of land within the city area.

“The price of land and houses in Kota Kinabalu is among the highest in Malaysia.

“In fact, I can say the price of houses is almost similar to that in Kuala Lumpur,” said Masidi.