Houses are indeed a need to everyone and not a luxury. Men need houses or shelters in order to protect themselves from the rain and the sun. All newly married couples wishes to have a new house of their own. The demand of houses is always high because everyone wants to have houses of their own. As our population grows, accordingly the demand of houses also grows. The demand of houses increases as our population increases. As our population grows, the area of land to built houses decreases and the price of land increases. As the price of lands increases, accordingly the price of houses also increases. In some cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore, the prices of the houses are very expensive. In those cities, people are forced to live in high rise apartments or flats, instead of houses. High rise flats or apartments are built in those cities in order to compensate for the increase in population and the decreases in land areas. In those cities, prices of the houses are very expensive and only the super rich can afford to live in houses. In Malaysia, particularly in Kuala Lumpur, the prices of houses are soaring high. An average income earner will not be able to buy a house in Kuala Lumpur.
As for example, a normal terrace house of three bedrooms in Kuala Lumpur will costs about two hundred and seventy thousands ringgit. A house in Kuala Lumpur which previously costs about nine thousand ringgit three decades ago is now costs about two hundred thousands ringgit. In order to buy house of such prices a person need to obtain a bank loan of more than two hundred thousands ringgit and with this amount of loan, a person on the average, will have to pay a monthly installment of about one thousand five hundred ringgit. Beside the house, a person in Kuala Lumpur also needs to pay a monthly installment of about eight hundred ringgit for the car. On the average, a person in Kuala Lumpur will have to pay more than two thousand ringgit monthly only for the car and the house to the bank. A typical family of three children in Kuala Lumpur will have to spend about three thousand ringgit on car loan and the house, about one thousand ringgit on food and other needs of the house, another thousand ringgit on petrol, medical and education making the total monthly expenditure of a typical family of three children in Kuala Lumpur to an average of five thousand ringgit.
Thus, in average the spending requirement of a family of three children in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is about five thousand ringgit. In order to obtain a monthly income of more than five thousand ringgit in a month, both husband and wife will have to find job that will give them the total earning of more than five thousand ringgit in a month. This is the monthly expenditure of an average income earner of a family of three children in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With an increase in the population in the next decade, the price of an average house in Kuala Lumpur will probably be double the price from what it is now. The prices of houses depend on the demand. As the population grows, the demand of houses will increase and accordingly the prices of houses will continue to increase. But, will the income of an average income earners in Kuala Lumpur in the next decade also increase? Usually there is a limit to the increase in salaries of workers, but probably there is no limit to the increase in the prices of the houses. When the locals cannot afford to buy the houses, the houses will be sold to the rich foreigners who would like to make Malaysia as their second homes. Most of our contractors only want to sell their houses at the highest price possible. According to the contractors, it is irrelevant whether the houses are sold to the locals or the foreigners. As long as the houses are saleable to the public, the contractors will continue to build expensive houses. As the contractors are only interested in making money and so they are more interested in building expensive houses. When the houses are very expensive, only the very rich locals or the rich foreigners will be able to buy the houses. In Malaysia there is a policy of making Malaysia as the second homes. Why our government is making this policy? This policy is made in order to enable the rich foreigners to buy very expensive houses in Malaysia. Our contractors are becoming more interested in building expensive houses rather than to build low cost houses. When they built expensive houses, they will make bigger profit. More and more Singaporeans are buying houses in Malaysia. I think if this policy continues and not put to a stop, a time will come where more foreigners own expensive houses than the locals. Malaysian government allows foreigners to buy houses in Malaysia just because our contractors are building houses which are too expensive for even the rich locals to buy.
What about the houses for the low and average income earners? Who will build low cost houses? Is there any contractor who is interested in building low cost houses? All our contractors are interested in building expensive houses. It is normal that all men, with the exception of the few real believers, wanted to become richer than all other men in this world. It is also normal that all men with the exception of the real believers will never be satisfied with whatever money they have. Men always want to have more wealth and more money. When there are opportunities to become rich, all men except the real believers will take the opportunities to become rich. All men with the exception of the real believers think and believe that the more money I have, the more successful I become. Our contractors are all normal human being, who want to have more and more money. Our contractors will not easily be persuaded into building low cost houses because it does not generate more money to them. The government will not be able to persuade them into building more low cost houses as no one wants to do projects which do not give them a large profit margin. If nothing is done by the government to control the situation, a time will come in Malaysia; where there will be only houses for the rich and none for the poor and the low income earners.
Who will build the houses for the poor and the low income group? How would the poor and the low income group be able to buy houses which are too expensive for them to buy? In any countries in the world, there are always more poor and the low income earners than the rich. The poor and the low income group are important group in our communities. We need the poor and the low income group to become the workers of the factories which belong to the rich. We need the low income group to work in our farms and supermarkets. Our government has to build houses for them to live. Our government has made mistake by requesting the private sectors to build houses for the poor and the low income groups. When the contractors build the low cost houses, they also think of money and not of services. Although the houses should only be bought by the poor and the low income groups but to the contractors whoever comes first with the money, the houses will be sold to them, irrespective whether they are poor or rich. As usual those who are rich want to become even richer. The rich also want to buy the low cost houses as an investment. The rich want to buy the low cost houses and then rent the houses to the low income group. At the end even the low cost houses are owned by the rich. The poor and the low income earners will have to live on rented apartments belong to the rich. Currently this is the situation in Malaysia. The poor and the low income groups are not able to own their own houses and they rent apartment and flats belong to the rich and the rich will live in bungalows. In this way the rich becomes richer and the poor and low income earners continue to live in rented houses belong to the rich, until they die.
The prices of any commodities will be determined by the law of supply and demand. The more the commodities is demanded, the higher the prices of those commodities. Houses are certainly not a luxury items. Everyone needs house in order to be able to live comfortably. Houses are included in the items which are called needs of men. Allah ordered men to work in order to fulfill their needs. Houses are one of the most important needs of men. What our governments do to provide houses to the poor and the low income earners? Our government only persuades the private contractors to built low cost houses for the poor and the low income earners. This is not good governance. Do our government control or monitor who the buyers of the low cost houses are? Our government does not control or monitor who the buyers of the low cost houses are. Our government does not have any control on the private contractors who build the low cost houses. Our government is only interested to have the tax money of the contractors. Does our government help the poor and the low income groups to buy houses? Both the government and the banks are not helping the poor and the low income group to buy houses. Banks give loans to buy houses only to those who have collateral. Only the rich can provides collateral to the bank and so only the rich in Malaysia can buy houses. The rich will buy the low cost houses and rented it to the poor or the low income earners. Who own the houses? At the end of the day, only the rich who owns houses while the poor and the low income earners will live in rented houses.
Although Malaysian government did build low cost houses for the poor and the low income group but the government does not want to sell those houses to them. Some of them have been renting the houses from the government for more than ten years and yet they are not able to own the houses. It was only recently, when the government decided to sell those flats which had been rented to the poor for so many years. Why it was not done before? Many believe it is an election campaign of this current Barisan government. Our government should have known that everyone in Malaysia should have their own houses long time ago. Houses are human needs and are not luxury commodities. A good and responsible government should provide opportunities for each of its citizen to have his or her own houses. I have been traveling quite often to many parts of Malaysia. I have seen many Malaysians particularly those who lives in Sabah, Terengganu, Kelantan and Sarawak, live in houses which are in very poor condition and not suitable for people to live. Government of Malaysia should take the responsibility to build houses for its citizens particularly those who are poor and come from the low income group. Houses are important needs of the peoples and the government must ensure that every citizens of the country own houses. Government of Malaysia should not have given the responsibility to build low cost houses to the private housing contractors. Private housing contractors should be allowed only to build houses for the rich while the government should take the responsibility to build houses for the poor and the low income earners. Government should ensure every citizen of Malaysia to own dissent houses, which comply with certain standards, the standards which are also in line with the standard of houses in other countries.
Does Malaysia have standards for building houses? I don’t think Malaysia has standards for houses. In Malaysia everyone can build houses to whatever standards they want. In order for Malaysia to become a progressive country, houses in Malaysia should be built in accordance to housing standards of an advance and progressive countries. In order to become a progressive country, everything made or build in Malaysia must follow certain standards which are in line with the standards of other progressive countries in this world. Malaysia may have its own standards but the standards must be at par with the standards used by other progressive and advance countries. I think Malaysia is in the process of establishing standards in various technical areas but I am sure Malaysia does not have standards for houses. What is currently being practiced in Malaysia does not seem to suggest that neither Malaysia has its own standards for houses nor is in the process of implementing standards for building houses. What should be the standards for houses in Malaysia? In order to establish the standards, we have to take into consideration the culture, habits and the religion of most Malaysians.
Let take an example of average Malay, Muslim family in Malaysia. Usually an average Malay and Muslims family in Malaysia consists of about five to six individuals, which include the father and the mother and three to four other children. In case one room of the house is for the father and the mother, there should be at least another three rooms for the children. All rooms should be of equal size that should be able to accommodate at least two persons in the room. According to Islam, the boys and the girls must be placed in separate rooms. Beside the bedrooms, there should be another three other rooms, which include the toilet and bathroom, a large living room, kitchen and dining room. In other words a standard house in Malaysia should have at least seven rooms. Whether the houses are of flats or apartments or single story houses, it must have the minimum number of seven rooms. Beside the adequate number of rooms the houses should be made from materials which are of standard quality, comply with international standards and the houses must be painted with standard paints which should also comply with international standards.
How can the government implement the policy; everyone to own houses? I think the Government should form a housing company specifically responsible for building low cost houses for the poor and the low income group. Initially the company is wholly owned by the government but later on the company can be owned by the public. The starting working capital of the company comes from the government. In the beginning, the main shareholder of the company is the government. The main task of the company is only to build new houses and to repair old houses for the poor and the low income earners of the country. The poor and the low income earners will buy the houses from the banks that operate on true Islamic principles and the government must own the bank. They will pay the monthly rent to the bank which is the amount equivalent to monthly installment of the houses to the bank. The bank will buy the houses from the government at cost price and in turn will sell the houses to the peoples with no profit. When the buyers have paid the entire monthly installment in the numbers of years as agreed with the bank, the ownership of the house will be transferred to the buyer. In this way the poor also can own houses. Government should make houses just for the service of the peoples. Government belongs to the peoples and the main responsibility of the government is not to make profit but to serve peoples.
As with other companies in a country which practice Islamic principles, government should sells all the shares of the company which belongs to the government finally to the workers of the company. A time will come when the ownership of the company is transferred to the workers of the company. When the shareholders of the company are not only from the government but also from the workers of the company, the company at that time can sell the houses to the bank with some profit of not more than 10 % of the cost price. According to the Islamic principles, 2/3 of the profit of the company should be given to the workers and 1/3 of the profit should be shared equally between the government and the shareholders of the company. When government is involved in building and providing houses to the poor and the low income earners, the price of the houses for this class of the society will always be maintain at the price which is affordable to the poor and the low income group. In this way everyone in Malaysia can own houses and all the houses are following standards which comply with the standards of houses in other progressive countries. Houses are the basic need of men. There is no point in becoming a progressive country only on the basis of per capital income, when there are so many Malaysians living in rented houses or houses not build according to international standards. When the above suggestions which I have made are adopted by the government of Malaysia, a time will come when everyone in Malaysia enjoy living in their own beautiful, dissent and practical houses and couple with the good roads that we currently have, I believe we will definitely make the outward appearance of Malaysia really similar to other advance and progressive nations of the world.
Prof. Dr. Nasoha Saabin
Dean of Faculty of Optometry
Twintech International University College of Technology
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia