The race to end poverty
12 Sep 08 : 9.00AM
By Ng Boon Hooi and N Shashi Kala
email@example.com at thenutgraph dot com, firstname.lastname@example.org shashikala at thenutgraph dot com
For the urban poor in Klang Valley, home is the longhouse and squatter settlements.
See also No Place Like Home and Housing Woes
IT is seemingly hard to tell who is poor these days. Walk into a temporary longhouse settlement in the Klang Valley and you are likely to see children of all races playing in the alleyways as the noise from television sets blare from houses, some of which have satellite dishes poking from the roofs.
This could be a scene from a typical Malaysian housing estate. But a closer look reveals a different story: dilapidated houses that are unfit for people to live in; blocked drains that are a magnet for mosquitoes; the stench of uncollected rubbish heaped in piles by the houses.
Yet, thousands of Klang Valley residents have been forced to call these longhouse settlements home — and many even pay for the privilege.
M Letchimi supports her daughter and grandchildren on her RM500-a-month salaryM Letchimi, 61, a cleaner who earns RM500 monthly, has to fork out RM150 rental for the asbestos longhouse unit in Section D, Jinjang Utara, where she lives with her unemployed daughter and grandchildren.
Taxi driver Verivaya Marimuthu, 45, who stays in a termite-infected house in the same area, has been waiting 18 years for a chance to own a low-cost unit. After paying about RM50 a day for the taxi rental, he barely has enough to cover the rent and food costs for himself and his family.
Letchimi and Verivaya are not alone. There are many more families like them in the Klang Valley, who live a hand-to-mouth existence, barely making ends meet even as food and transport costs soar. They may live near the hustle and bustle of the city with its gleaming shopping malls and gated communities, but the wealth of the nation has bypassed them...