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Sarawak eyes longhouses in National Housing Scheme

KUCHING (Sarawak): Sarawak will recommend to the federal government to turn longhouses into a national housing scheme.
A pilot project under the state Housing and Urban Development Ministry is currently underway in Bakong, Sri Aman division, its minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said.

He said the initiative could be implemented similar to the people-friendly housing, affordable homes and rental housing through federal funding with elements of subsidy, compared to the present ad-hoc loan basis.

"Our pilot longhouse with individual titles in Bakong is under construction and I hope that once we finalise all the details, we should have more good news for the longhouse folk," he said in an interview published in the Sarawak Housing Development Corporation (HDC) latest bulletin.

Being a programme by itself, he said the state housing ministry could request the Housing and Local Government Ministry to allocate funds for Sarawak to build more such longhouses.

Abang Johari expressed confidence that the new longhouse concept would be well accepted by the people. In terms of urban development, he said the resettlement exercise undertaken by the Sarawak Land and Survey Department and his ministry to mitigate the problem of squatters would be given priority in the next Malaysia Plan.

He said a special committee chaired by him, with the department serving as the secretariat, would identify squatter areas and carry out a comprehensive exercise to provide people-friendly housing to squatters as well as flats for
rental schemes.

An additional funding of RM50 million had been obtained from the federal government under the 10th Malaysia Plan for the development of more than 600 units of people-friendly houses, he said. For over-populated villages such as Kampung Seberang Hilir in Kuching and Kampung Datu in Sibu, he said the government planned to improve residents' living standards by way of a redevelopment scheme which aimed to provide better facilities and people-friendly houses.

"In this manner, we should be able to kill two birds with one stone -- providing proper housing and, at the same time, implementing urban renewal efforts," he added. - Bernama

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