IPOH (Dec 25, 2008): By Humayun Kabir
The Perak government is studying the possibility of providing elderly-friendly homes for senior citizens similar to the successful housing venture undertaken by the Singapore government in 1998.
The island republic launched a studio apartment scheme for the elderly as a housing option consisting of customised apartments with elderly-friendly features such as lever taps, non-slip tiles, easy-to-use switches, wider door frames for wheelchair access, level flooring from one floor to another, and handle bars and pull cords linked to an alert system in case of an emergency.
The studio apartments are sold on 30-year leases and built in two sizes of 35sq m and 45sq m.
Perak Education, Local Government, Housing and Public Transport Committee chairman Nga Kor Ming said current housing schemes in Perak were not elderly-friendly, with many incidents of senior citizens injuring themselves at home, for example as a result of slippery floors and uneven flooring, or falling down stairs.
Like Singapore, Perak also wants to get more people to own houses instead of renting.
Singapore, with a land area of 699 sq km, has housed 81% of its 3.6 million population in apartments located in comprehensively planned housing estates.
Of this, 79% own the apartments, with just 2% renting, as at March 2007.
"This is a long-term housing project which ensures that people are stakeholders in our economic building efforts," Nga said.
"We are also studying the possibility of encouraging more tenants to buy up their state rented premises which will make them responsible for the proper maintenance of the buildings."
Perak is expected to help the lower income group own their rented premises through easily obtainable bank loans.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and fifty local govern-ment officials and staff, including Nga and Ipoh Mayor Roshidi Hashim, left for Singapore on Dec 18 for a three-day working visit to study the island republic’s local government system with a view to improving the efficiency of Perak’s local government administration.
The delegation also gained information on how to address squatter problems, maintain heritage and historical buildings, improve and maintain water catchment areas, improve the quality of drinking water and reduce water wastage due to leaks, purify waste water for industrial use, desalinate sea water and clean up rivers to turn them into tourist attractions.