PETALING JAYA: The recent announcement that the government will provide new lifts to all 67 low-cost and public housing will be welcomed but it highlights the structural problems in maintenance services for low-cost housing.

Saying this, Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishuyakaran pointed out that basic facilities such as lifts, wiring, water pumps and cleaning services are often neglected until breaking point in many low-cost housing properties.

“And then the government steps in as a ‘hero’ to fix these problems on an ad-hoc basis,” he said in a statement today.

“The correct solution is for the government to take over the maintenance of these housing, and ensure that they are clean and safe, and that lifts operate properly at all times. After all, if the government is responsible for cleaning the streets and maintaining water pipes and playgrounds for landed property owners all this while, it should be fair and take care of these basic necessities for low-cost housing dwellers too.”

Rajiv said the government should not continue to ignore the plight of those who live in low-cost housing.

The government’s lack of care and attention to this issue has resulted in terrible living conditions, where many are forced to live in slum-like environments, he pointed out.

“In Singapore, the maintenance of HDB flats is done by the government and not left to the residents to form their own management committees to do so - unlike in Malaysia,” he said.

“Many residents in low-cost housing are low-earners and find it a burden to make monthly maintenance payments, especially now in these trying economic times. It is often a chicken-and-egg situation, where those who can afford to pay maintenance do not get the service they deserve and those who can’t or don’t pay still want services rendered to them.

“As a result, management committees often have to deal with very difficult circumstances with regard to the collection of maintenance fees and providing the necessary services.”

Rajiv aid we must not wait until the living conditions in low-cost housing deteriorate and become unsafe before stepping in only when necessary.

“The government should take over the maintenance of these properties so that residents have a decent standard of living and maintain their dignity.

“The solution is not that difficult. The government should conduct open tenders to hire maintenance companies for all low-cost housing properties and ensure that the companies are accountable for the services they render. By doing this, the government can significantly increase the quality of life in all low-cost and public housing properties,” he added.