GEORGE TOWN (March 13) – The Penang state government has discovered that some PPR (people’s housing project) rent defaulters appreared to have satellite dishes installed, indicating subscriptions with the pay-TV network Astro.
“If they can pay for Astro, why can’t they pay for the maintenance fees?” Jagdeep Singh Deo was quoted saying in the Malay Mail today.
The local government and housing development committee chairman revealed the total arrears owing from all PPR units and other state-owned flats in all its five districts have amounted to RM18 million.
“First I first took over this portfolio in 2013, the arrears owed was RM14 million and now, this year, it is over RM18 million,” he added.
Jagdeep said such tenants will be notified to settle their dues, failing which authorities will remove the satellite dishes to disrupt their subscriptions.
In a joint press conference with Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today, Jagdeep said the state government has to resort to legal action due to the severity of the issue.
He also called on all PPR and government flat tenants to update their details with the state housing department.
“They can upgrade to become homeowners under our various schemes, they don’t have to live in a PPR permanently, so they can apply and they will be given priority,” he said, adding that the government’s aim is for these tenants to be upgraded to their own homes, under the rent-to-own or low-cost housing projects.
Referring to the now resolved Taman Manggis controversy, State exco Dr Afif Bahardin said the issue could have been resolved earlier had there not been interference by third parties.
Dr Afif, who had tried to negotiate with the tenants camped in Komtar for almost a week, said: “Some groups who allegedly represented the tenants have ulterior motives by instigating and capitalising on the issue.”
He claimed even the residents felt intimidated by the so-called non-governmental organisations (NGO). “We gave so many different offers to the tenants but the instigators stopped them because they wanted the demonstration to continue on.”