Joint Media Statement by 4 DAP State Assemblypersons Liow Cai Tung, Cheo Yee How, Wong Shu Qi and Tan Hong Pin on 13 July 2014 (Sunday):
Lack of public housing at city centre is the root cause of Malaysian migrant workers lodging at JB Sentral.
We regret to hear several irresponsible remarks from BN elected representatives, including an EXCO of Johore that described people who reside at JB Sentral are eyesores to our image. This is a very uncalled for remark that shouldn’t be uttered by an EXCO at all.
Datuk Tee Siew Kiong should first understand why Malaysian migrant workers in Singapore would rather stay overnight at JB Sentral than get a proper place to sleep. Furthermore, as an EXCO he should be offering a set of policy that resolves the problems instead of sweeping problems under the carpet.
The problem of Malaysians staying overnight at JB Sentral is clearly a social economic issue. It’s not about people tarnishing our national image but rather reflect the reality of our current economic situation.
Lower income households who struggle to make their ends meet need only a shelter after their work that is not too far away from their working place. Yet, there is very few affordable housing or public housing in Johor Bahru downtown.
Our heartland was sold to domestic or foreign developers who eye luxury high-rise real property market where the working class can only dream to own a unit.
We hereby urge the state government to rethink the way of developing Johor Bahru and think of how to reduce the urban poor before making any major development decision.
Meanwhile, we reckon that the government needs to have short, middle and long-term policies to fully tackle the problem.
In short term, government should think of reusing abandoned white elephant project in JB and turn it into lodging for public. For instance, the eyesore to Johor Bahru’s image, the Waterfront City can be turned into capsule inn or low-cost lodging.
For middle term policy, the state government must seriously address the poor design of our public transport. Quite a number of Malaysian migrant workers could not get back their homes located far away from town and it is inconvenient for them to go home after they get themselves out from terrible congestion on causeway as the bus service may end as early as 10pm in the evening.
Furthermore, without first mile and last mile connectivity, public transportation would remain as the last choice of people to commute and move around the greater Johor Bahru.
For the long run, state government should consider to build more affordable houses in city rather than outskirts for working class. The city centre shouldn’t be occupied by luxury high-rise building without any residents since it is not local who able to buy the house and live at the downtown.
Don’t ever forget that Johor Bahru once had 8 blocks of 15-storey and 17-storey flat at the city centre where JB CIQ is located now. Affordable housing at city centre for the working class would not only resolve the problem we are facing now and would eventually reduce the gap and tension between the higher and lower income group.
Liow Cai Tung
Cheo Yee How
Wong Shu Qi
Tan Hong Pin