KATOWICE, Poland (June 29): Adequate and affordable housing programmes in Malaysia have been established and prioritised since the 70s, and they remain high on the country’s agenda, according to Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

In a ministerial round-table session of the 11th World Urban Forum (WUF11) here on Tuesday (June 28), Reezal Merican pointed out that Malaysia’s National Affordable Housing Policy will see about 500,000 affordable houses built by 2025.

He also said the Ministry of Housing and Local Government established a committee on Nov 17 last year to coordinate the implementation of 500,000 units of affordable housing during the duration of the 12th Malaysia Plan from 2021 to 2025.

The committee would monitor the implementation and provision of housing supply by 15 housing provision agencies, in addition to the ministry, state governments and the private sector, he said.

Reezal Merican also took the opportunity to share about HOPE or the Home Ownership Programme spearheaded by his ministry and where the programme's approach is guided by five fundamental principles — availability, affordability, accessibility to financing, quality and liveability.

To ensure sustainability and inclusive urbanisation, Reezal Merican said Malaysia had also introduced and implemented several environmental and social policies that transcend from national and subnational to local levels.

They include the National Urbanisation Policy formulated in 2006 to help local governments set the direction of urban planning and growth in Malaysia.

“We envision a Liveable Malaysia, a nation that progresses economically while allowing the environment to thrive and Malaysians to prosper,” he said.

Reezal Merican, meanwhile, admitted that tackling urban poverty is an uphill battle and efforts to address urban poverty in Malaysia go beyond economic development. 

“It includes elevating the well-being and quality of life of the lower-income group.  Access to education, health, public transportation, better living standards and better income are among the key dimensions of Malaysia’s Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index,” he said.

The WUF was initiated by the United Nations (UN) in 2001 to study one of the most pressing issues facing the world today, namely rapid urbanisation and its impact on communities, cities, the economy and climate change.

Organised and convened by UN-Habitat, the WUF is the most inclusive international gathering over urban issues that brings together representatives of national, provincial and local governments, academics, business people, community leaders, town planners and civil societies.

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