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KUALA LUMPUR: Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran has assured that the government is looking into ways to provide housing at discounted prices for poor estate workers, following a protest by some 200 plantation workers outside Parliament yesterday.
He told reporters in Parliament that the government may partner with the private sector and government-linked companies (GLCs) in this initiative.
He also said he had met with large estate companies and GLCs to discuss the matter, adding that Sime Darby had agreed to provide 10 acres of land in Sungai Siput, Perak.
“The ministry has handed the land over to the state government for it to be divided into sub-lots,” he said.
Kula said the government was also looking at 40 acres of land in Pulau Kamiri, Perak, but that there were “no promises”.
Yesterday, members of a coalition of NGOs called the Estate Society Support Committee sent a memorandum to the Pakatan Harapan government demanding a law guaranteeing estate workers permanent housing.
Speaking to reporters at the demonstration, its national coordinator Karthiges Rajamanickam said estate workers were provided housing only during their contract period.
Kula said he had given the memorandum to his officer to review.
“What is most important in their demands was that they requested for the houses built by their employers to be given to them at cost price, or at a very discounted grade,” he said, adding that this would require certain processes under the national land court.
“After that, we will begin the building process.”
He also said the government may provide some RM30 million in loans for the workers to purchase homes, to be handled by Bank Simpanan Nasional and given at discounted rates with interest set at 2%.
“This RM30 million, we will use to help all estate workers,” he added.