MALAYSIA — Nga Kor Ming, Malaysian minister for local government development, chided a claim that Singapore housing experts were consulted to compensate for its inefficient civil service in housing matters as being “provocative and seditious”.
Mr Nga stressed that the ministry’s intention in inviting foreign experts, including from Singapore, for seminars and workshop sessions is to gain knowledge and share expertise in the field of housing.
It is to ensure that Malaysia can grow and be relevant to current development, said the minister.
The ministry has also implemented similar collaborations with other countries, such as Australia, to study the policies related to private housing and laws, and study mixed private housing development in India.
According to Bernama, Mr Nga defended public servants in his ministry, saying that they have always provided the best service while implementing affordable and holistic housing policies for the people.
“Civil servants have been serving with excellence since Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman’s administration until today. The synergy of civil servants and members of the administration has produced various policies, programmes and action plans for the benefit of the people.”
Mr Nga was responding to a portal TV media, Berita 757, under Awesome TV, which claimed that the government had to bring in experts from Singapore to resolve Malaysia’s housing issues because government officials in the country did not have sufficient expertise.
In the news report, the narrator said:”…This is because after decades, the government officials in the country still lack sufficient abilities and expertise in various sectors. Hence government has no choice but to bring expertise from outside.”
Sinar Harian had reported that Mr Nga said Malaysia’s Ministry of Local Government Development (KPKT) will not hesitate to take legal action against those who make accusations against the ministry or incite the people’s sentiment over the issue.
Earlier on 17 January, Mr Nga announced in a media interview that the Singaporean government had agreed to “loan” their HDB flat contractors to visit his ministry next month to share Singapore’s knowledge on building affordable homes.
Opposition leaders questioned Mr Nga’s motives
However, several opposition leaders questioned the motive(s) behind consulting Singapore on its expertise in housing matters.
Kedah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi alleged that Mr Nga’s party Democratic Action Party (DAP)’s primary objective was to conduct local government elections through the ministry.
He warned that this would result in monopolising participation and representation by a single ethnic group, specifically in major cities.
Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) secretary in Penang, Iszuree Ibrahim, in a Facebook post, implied that all Malay villages in Penang were removed and condominiums were built under DAP-led state government.
Mr Nga explained that the Malaysian government’s relationship with Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) has been initiated since 2018. The former Minister of Housing and Local Government visited Singapore to understand the planning and provision aspects, especially in “social housing”.
He said the existing housing policy was the result of the ministry’s collaboration with housing experts in the country, such as the Khazanah Research Institute (KRI), Bank Negara Malaysia, the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), academics, and real estate analysts.
“It is not wrong to improve policies based on best practices so that they are more comprehensive and practical for implementation under the Malaysian model.”