34 days and counting of MCO life at low-cost flats

People’s Housing Project residents have been heavily affected by the movement control order.

PETALING JAYA: For 34 days, many families have been cooped up in tiny low-cost flats, struggling to put food on the table and trying to explain to their children why they cannot go outside to play.

Cramped living quarters are only one of the problems that People’s Housing Project (PPR) residents must deal with; there is also a rising fear of petty crime as the movement control order (MCO) to curb the spread of Covid-19 reaches the halfway point of its third phase.

Yuslina Yusuf, president of the Kota Damansara PPR residents’ association, said the restrictions on movement make conditions ripe for acts like stealing and loitering as the people become increasingly restless and, for some, desperate.

With two extensions so far and no guarantee that it will end by its latest target time of April 28, the MCO has seen many of these people laid off or unable to work.

According to Yuslina, the majority of the PPR residents are self-employed. They work as hawkers or do odd jobs, while a smaller percentage are employed at supermarkets or work as lorry drivers or security guards.

“Some who were employed were told to go on leave or were retrenched,” she told FMT.

“Some are paid weekly, so if they don’t go to work, they don’t get paid. Those who are paid monthly get half-pay and all those kinds of things. They don’t have a regular income.”

Often, she said, the residents have large families which makes it difficult for them to stay indoors.

“With the MCO, many of the kids feel uneasy when everyone’s cramped up in the house.”

As for petty crime, the lack of security at these flats makes it nearly inevitable.

“Living in this kind of place, you are open to all this, especially when people are desperate,” Yuslina said.

There have been 5,389 reported cases of Covid-19 so far with 89 deaths. Some 2,000 patients are receiving treatment while a little over 3,000 have recovered.

The MCO, which was implemented on March 18, was accompanied by a litany of restrictions including a limit on which sectors are allowed to open and what activities are allowed.

Yuslina said many kind-hearted people had donated to the PPR residents.

“We receive a lot of aid. I really appreciate the efforts to help PPR residents during the MCO, I’m very grateful.”

But it is difficult to reach every one of the 4,000 or so people who live at the PPR flats.

“We have 1,152 units with an average of four people per unit. We get about 600 or 700 packages, so we can only cover 50% or 60% at a time,” she said.

And while the state government has allowed rental deferments for May and June, Yuslina said many are unsatisfied.

She said they had hoped to be included in Putrajaya’s six-month exemption for those living in PPR flats managed by the housing and local government ministry.

The Kota Damansara PPR is one of four low-cost residential flats under the Selangor government’s housing board. The others are the Kg Baru Hicom PPR, Serendah PPR and Council Homes Bandar Baru Bangi.

Yuslina said the residents’ association had written to their state assemblyman asking that they be given the same six-month exemption as the PPR flats under the federal ministry.

However, she said the state government would need to fork out a lot of money if rent were to be deferred for six months.

“The two months’ worth of rent can be paid over 18 months.

“I cannot argue anymore because you can pay in instalments,” she said.


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