Housing hope for needy folk

Paner Selvam and Kogilavani with their children.

BETTER days are in store for security guard S. Paner Selvam, 38, his wife and three young children who live in deplorable conditions in a rented room in a house shared with 28 other tenants.

Penang local government committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the state Housing Department is arranging for a temporary unit at Rifle Range flats for the family to move into by end of this week.

He said Paner Selvam’s application to obtain a public housing (PPR) unit is being processed and he has been asked to submit several documents.

For the past two years, Paner Selvam, his unemployed wife S. Kogilavani and children aged four, two and nine-months old have been paying RM300 for the room and they have to share the only bathroom and toilet in the house with all the other tenants in the Jalan Utama house.

Penang Hindu Association (PHA), which highlighted Paner Selvam’s plight, had appealed to the state to allocate a PPR unit for him and his family.

PHA president P. Murugiah said the children have been falling sick often. “At times, they even have to queue up to use the toilet and if there is an emergency, they just have to go in a bottle or container, ” he said.

Kogilavani with their three children looking at the provisions donated to them by Penang Hindu Association at their rented room in Jalan Utama.Kogilavani with their three children looking at the provisions donated to them by Penang Hindu Association at their rented room in Jalan Utama.

Murugiah said Paner Selvam was originally from Kedah and had moved to Penang in 2017.

He said when some of the tenants at the premises tested positive for Covid-19, Paner Selvam could not go to work at Penang Hospital where he worked as a security guard.

“He could barely make ends meet then as his employer only paid him half his salary, ” he said, adding that Paner Selvam only returned to work recently.

He said because of this, Paner Selvam’s children were fed with ‘kopi-O’ and ‘teh-O’ as he could not afford to buy milk for them.

PHA went to their aid by donating provisions such as milk powder, Milo, biscuits and other essentials.

Murugiah said Paner Selvam and his family initially failed to get a PPR unit in Penang because they were told they are not registered Penang voters.

“However, Paner Selvam’s identity card shows his Jalan Utama address and he has voted in Bukit Bendera constituency in the 2018 general election.

“We really hope the state government will look into this family’s plight and allocate a PPR unit for Paner Selvam and his family as soon as possible, ” he said.

State welfare committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said there have been cases when people had moved to Penang to work, but could not afford to pay the rent.

“Those who are facing a similar situation like Paner Selvam can always approach an exco member or their assemblymen for help, ” he said.

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