STATEMENT

BY

HIS EXCELLENCY THE HONOURABLE DATO' SERI ONG KA TING
HEAD OF MALAYSIAN DELEGATION
 

AT THE

25TH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR
AN OVERALL REVIEW AND APPRAISAL OF THE IMPLEMENTATION
OF THE OUTCOME OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON
HUMAN SETTLEMENTS (HABITAT II)
 

New York
June 6, 2001


 
Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Allow me to quote the Secretary General Kofi Annan in his foreword to the Global Report on Human Settlements 2001: Cities in a Globalising World. "The world has entered the urban millennium. Nearly half of the world's people are now city dwellers, and the rapid increase in urban population is being further propelled by the powerful forces of globalisation. The central challenge for the international community is clear: to make both urbanization and globalisation work for all people, instead of leaving behind or on the margins."

2. Considering the trends that are reshaping the world's urban structures and the situation portrayed by the report, my delegation fully subscribes to the message sent by the Secretary General. With globalisation and greater flow of information, people's expectations have heightened. This poses greater challenges for governments, particularly in developing countries. Housing conditions that were adequate before are no longer acceptable. In light of the above condition, this special session is most timely. Clearly we cannot deny the intrinsic linkage between globalisation and urban development that provides comfortable living conditions, be they city dwellers in the developed or developing countries. The questions are, how do we manage the forces of globalisation and its impact on urbanization, and how do we ensure that city dwellers worldwide will have equitable benefits.

3. In Malaysia, we have taken proactive measures by introducing our Urbanization Master Plan, National Housing Policy, more comprehensive national town and country planning policies and several relevant action plans in our country's development plans.

4. In support of the goals to provide the necessary physical and social infrastructure for the implementation of the Habitat Agenda, Malaysia has introduced her own programmes to provide shelter for all. This includes the Zero-Squatter Policy, and the Integrated People's Housing Programme for Squatter Resettlement, where a total of 51,800 units of low cost flats are to be built by the year 2005 in large cities. These 3-bedroom housing units are to be rented out at a low monthly rate. Social facilities like community halls and libraries are also provided to improve the quality of life. In designing and providing for such facilities, consultations were held with the target groups to ensure that their needs are met adequately.

5. To provide affordable housing for the poor, soft housing loans are offered. To encourage Home Ownership for Low-Income Groups, the government is increasing its role to build more houses for sale at a subsidized price, to supplement private sector efforts. The private sector will play a major role in providing for "low-medium cost" houses at affordable prices.

6. We are non-discriminatory in our efforts to provide shelter for all - even legal migrant workers are provided comfortable shelter by their employers. Other disadvantaged groups such as female-headed households, and poor families are given priority in government-aided schemes. Specially designed units to cater for the disabled are also made available.

7. In reinforcing her policy on public-private partnerships, Malaysia promotes corporate involvement in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. The corporate sector has been actively involved in programmes and initiatives such as the National Recycling Programme, the Pilot Project on Local Agenda 21, the Business Council for Sustainable Development, Malaysia and have committed themselves to the practice of clean technology. The corporate sector is also involved in public education among local communities, schools and nature education centers to increase awareness of environmental issues.

Mr. President,

8. We have achieved a measure of success in our efforts to provide shelter for all and sustainable urban environment. This was made possible by the joint efforts of all concerned - government, local authorities, financing institutions, the private sector and the target groups themselves. We believe that this formula of joint responsibility can work at the international level as well.

9. In this regard, we must make a firm and clear commitment to build needed infrastructure, both physical and social infrastructure, in developing countries, particularly the least developed among them. In the context of the Habitat Agenda, the provision of infrastructure such as housing and social facilities will promote social well-being for all and ensure equitable and sustainable urban development.

10. Given the fact that the cost of building infrastructure is very high and many developing countries, as well as the least developed among them, cannot possibly build all the infrastructure by themselves, new reliable sources or funds must be found. In this regard, Malaysia would like to reiterate the importance of establishing an infrastructure fund for infrastructure development, including housing, in developing countries. Malaysia also welcomes the initiative to establish a world solidarity fund for poverty eradication as stated in the General Assembly resolution 55/210. However, poverty reduction cannot be tackled in piece-meal and disjointed fashion. It has to be an integrated strategy and in this regard, Malaysia strongly believes that infrastructure development has to be at the core of that strategy.

11. The developed countries will have to take the lead in providing adequate funds to finance and realize the social policies and programmes of the Habitat Agenda. Developing countries, on their part, will ensure that the programmes are implemented to achieve the objectives of the Habitat Agenda.

Mr. President,

12. Malaysia reaffirms her commitment and shall endeavor to further enhance our efforts towards achieving the objectives of the Habitat Agenda. We are prepared to cooperate with member countries in sharing of experiences and expertise.