THE State’s Housing Development Corporation (HDC) will soon help rural folk to build modern longhouses.This is timely news because never a year goes by when we don’t have longhouse fires.
Once in a while they are restricted to a few doors, but often the homes of the entire community, along with all their worldly goods, are destroyed.
From 2010 to early January this year, nearly 30 longhouses were razed to the ground.
Sadly fires tend to happen during festive seasons too, probably because in the midst of celebrating, something on a stove would not be monitored and … well you can imagine what happens next.
Thankfully loss of life is quite rare, but the lives of whole communities are reduced to ashes and it takes years for them to rebuild.
It is extremely devastating for anyone to lose their home. For many rural folk with limited resources, the blow is especially hard.
Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said in view of the many longhouse fires, the new longhouses built by HDC would have fire prevention designs.
This would involve fire breaks to help minimise the impact of the fire and possibly fire resistant materials such as bricks.
Datuk Amar Abang Johari explained that in the past HDC would give out RM10,000 loans under its Longhouse Loan Scheme to longhouse owners because they had no land title.
Under the new system, HDC would ensure that all house owners within a longhouse would be given a land title with the help of the Land and Survey Department.
It is good to know that HDC is taking a major step to ensure that longhouses, such a vital part of Sarawakian traditional culture and the State’s landscape, would be safer and meet modern needs.
Ensuring that the longhouse folk have individual land titles would also mean that their rights are protected.
A report from the New Straits Times:
Sarawak agency to build longhouses
KUCHING: The Housing Development Committee (HDC) will build modern longhouses for Sarawak rural residents instead of giving cash loans to purchase housing materials.
State Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg said this was a new approach in terms of providing housing for rural folk.
“We used to just give RM10,000 to the longhouse owners applying for housing aid because there is no land title.
“But we cannot continue with this concept because the income of our rural people has increased due to palm oil and other agricultural development and they can now afford monthly housing loan repayments of RM200 to RM300.
“This new concept will operate in a more systematic manner and not at an ad hoc basis in providing housing for the natives,” said Abang Johari at HDC’s 40th Anniversary Carnival, held here yesterday.
Abang Johari said in view of many fires in longhouses, the new longhouses would have fire prevention design, the cost of which would be borne by the house owners.
“The good news is that each house owner within a longhouse would be given a land title and thus, the help of the Land and Survey Department would be essential.”
He believed that HDC must change in response to the needs of the present society which is made up of well-educated middle class.
In view of such social development, he said amenities and facilities were now essential when planning a new housing estate.
As he wanted HDC to be a catalyst in introducing new housing estate concept, HDC would lead in providing cloud computing service, starting with its Sibu Jaya Housing Estate, in Sibu, 600km from here.