A PINT-SIZED octogenarian, she is further reduced in size by the hunch she wears and hobbles around with a walking stick.
The wrinkles on her face may not be just from old age, it could be from years of toil she had had to put in, having to grapple with poverty made worse by the complexities of city life.
I was at Kg Muhibbah public housing (located off Jalan Puchong) scheme recently and this lady who lives alone in a flat in Kg Muhibbah caught my attention.
I struck up a conversation with this lady who had, just weeks before, moved into the flat from a squatter relocation exercise.
From my conversation, I could gather that she was not any worse now compared to the living conditions in the squatter house. She chuckled as she described how she has to walk into the bathroom with an umbrella or a water-proof hat. Curious, I probed on She said the burst pipe in her bathroom was yet to be fixed by the flat maintenance people.
She claimed to have walked or tottered to the maintenance office at least three times to complain about the burst pipe and yet nothing had been done.
On checking with the maintenance office, I was told there was nothing anyone could do about it except “wait for their turn” and it could be weeks and months as the waiting list to attend to maintenance works is just too long.
Another resident had a similar complaint and I later learnt that burst pipe and water proofing seem to be common issues in most public housing schemes.
A survey done in 2006 at Cochrane Public Housing Scheme listed burst water pipe topping the list of five most common complaints received by DBKL from tenants and owners of public housing schemes.
Additionally, water proofing also seems to be an issue with seepages and leakages proving to be a bane to residents.
Housing being an important tool for restructuring society and eradicating poverty, the public housing schemes in Malaysia took off on a small scale and has run into big scale developments.
However, maintenance at these schemes leaves much to be desired Just a brief research about public housing schemes in Malaysia reveals that under the Seventh Malaysia Plan (1996-2000) and Eighth Malaysia Plan (2001-2005), our government was committed to provide adequate, affordable and quality housing for all Malaysians, particularly the low-income group.
This is in line with the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlement and Habitat Agenda (1996) to ensure adequate shelter for all.
The government also included for the first time then, low- and low-medium-cost housing categories in the Seventh Malaysia Plan.
In Kuala Lumpur, public housing schemes have mushroomed but the squatter eradication goal post has been shifting too frequently.
Building low-cost homes must come with the adequate support system to ensure the flat dwellers live in decent comfort.