Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - Affordable houses and better public transport are among the main wishes of Malaysian urbanites for the upcoming budget for 2013 fiscal year that will be tabled in the House of Representatives next Friday.
The younger middle-class urbanites want to start with an apartment before going on to a house when they start a family, but are daunted by the high cost of property in and around the city.
"Property prices are rising with no signs of slowing down anytime soon," said software application engineer Ahmad Danial Mohammad, who is based in Kuala Lumpur.
He suggested that a home ownership scheme be introduced where first-time house buyers, who are mostly single working adults, can buy a studio apartment subsidised by the government.
As the buyer's savings increase, he can sell the studio apartment to another first-time buyer and use the money to buy a bigger living space, such as a condominium, Ahmad Danial said.
"And should I have a family of my own, the condominium will not be enough for all of us. At that time I would like to be able to sell that unit and use the money, plus savings, to buy a landed house," he added.
Ahmad Danial noted that the long-standing trend in Malaysia was "to buy a house and live there forever" which explained why "most buyers look at houses as long-term investments".
Freelance web designer Ashvin Vijay, 23, liked the proposed scheme, but said the buying and selling system should be made more convenient.
"Property buying and selling has to be made simpler for us," he said. "It will be more reassuring when we buy a house to know that we can sell it a few years down the road when it becomes inadequate for our needs."
Ashvin believed the escalating urban property prices should be stabilised before any subsidy scheme was implemented.
"The government can provide us subsidies for a house in the Klang Valley or any other urban area, but it would be pointless if property prices continue to soar," he said.
On the possibility of PR1MA, the 1Malaysia People's Housing programme, catering to urbanites, he said the location of units under the scheme should not be far from the city.
He said government land near the city could be converted for projects under the programme.
Meanwhile, Fomca chief executive officer Paul Selvaraj said the budget should outline steps to improve public transport in the country.
He said the government had placed a lot of emphasis on projects such as the Mass Rapid Transit but not enough focus on bus services "which are the most important mode of public transport".
"Train services are important, but the authorities must remember that people use buses to go from their homes to the train station, and later to schools and workplaces," he said.
"Bus services are especially necessary in the suburban and rural areas," said Selvaraj.
"The authorities should not focus on the Klang Valley alone, but also pay attention to the outskirts where many who work in the city live."
Selvaraj believed that public transport could not be widely promoted in Malaysia yet as it was "not convenient enough".
He added: "If public transport is efficient, it will automatically become the preferred means of getting around, in which case the high price of vehicles would not be an issue as people would then have a choice."