Monday, November 11th 2002

‘The poor be damned’ attitude by private
developers, society: town planner

Claudia Theophilus

Isolating the urban poor by housing them in the periphery of a residential estate only serves to compound the poverty cycle, a town planner said.

Malaysian Institute of Planners president Khairiah Talha found that most developers built low-cost flats in the least desirable location for fear of devaluing property if placed within the core of the project.

“This causes more hardship (for the poor) due to little or no access to public transportation and they have to fork out more money to get to public facilities and commercial centres,” she said in her paper, ‘Housing and safety for the urban poor’, at an urban poverty conference last week.

Referring to a basic housing estate plan, Khairiah said these low-cost units are usually tucked away in a corner far from public facilities and commercial outlets, and physically separated by roads, highways or tall spikes as fencing, as in one housing estate she spotted in Subang Jaya.

“Developers, and ourselves as consumers, are putting a value judgment on the poor who already have a bad quality of life,” she said.