HFH Malaysia Extends Program Reach To Include Disadvantaged Groups In Five-Year Plan

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam Elected As President; Habitat Resource Centers To Be Set Up In Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah

KUALA LUMPUR, 8th May 2009: Habitat for Humanity Malaysia has a new strategy to broaden its reach to include not only the low-income families but also members from the country’s disadvantaged groups including urban slum dwellers, indigenous people in remote villages and families of various ethnic groups.

A Habitat house (top) which has since been completed in Sungai Buloh, outside of the capital Kuala Lumpur, provides a marked contrast to poverty housing conditions in a nearby village.

FedEx donated US20,000 and sent volunteers to build with HFH Malaysia.

Dow Chemical sent volunteers (above) to builds outside of Kuala Lumpur and funded a prototype bamboo house (below) in Raub town.

Under the leadership of a new board of trustees, HFH Malaysia plans to establish regional Habitat Resource Centers in Peninsular Malaysia, and in the states of Sarawak and Sabah on Borneo island. The HRCs will play a key role in broadening its reach as HFH Malaysia seeks to serve about 1,000 disadvantaged families in the three regions with diversified housing solutions, such as repairs, renovations, extensions and new house builds.

The new board is led by Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, a former high-ranking Malaysian civil servant, alternate executive director of the World Bank in Washington DC, and chief executive of Malaysia’s Bank Buruh. Other trustees include deputy president Andrew Siew; Chiew Chung Yee and Joanna Kitingan, regional advisory board chairpersons for affiliates in Sarawak and Sabah states respectively.

HFH Malaysia’s partners in its mission to serve families in need of safe, decent and affordable housing include The Dow Chemical Company, a Michigan-headquartered US company which provides plastics, chemicals and agricultural products; FedEx, an express transportation company based in the U.S state of Tennessee and ED & F Man, a London-headquartered provider of commodities, logistics and risk management services. Other partners include Malaysian Mosaics, which manufactures and distributes mosaic and ceramic floor tiles in Malaysia; Sunway Construction, a local construction company and Cargill, an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services which is based in the U.S. state of Minnesota.

Under its partnership with HFH Malaysia, FedEx helped to build and repair four homes for indigenous families living in poverty. FedEx has donated US20,000 and sent 120 volunteers to build with HFH Malaysia in the Lenggeng house-building project, south of the capital Kuala Lumpur, for the orang asli community or the local indigenous people. “This project is especially meaningful as we are directly involved in creating a better environment for families who are living in unsafe, crowded and unsanitary conditions,” said FedEx Express’ Malaysia and Brunei managing director, K. Don Premaseri.

HFH Malaysia also completed a prototype bamboo building which will serve as a community center in Raub town, about two hours’ drive from the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Through the building which was funded by Dow Chemical, HFH Malaysia also aims to educate the orang asli to build more durable bamboo houses.

Earlier, at a fundraising dinner in Sarawak’s capital Kuching, HFH Malaysia was able to sell all 350 tickets at 150 Malaysian ringgit (US40) each. In addition, guests bought dozens of paintings by young students from a local art school. An auction for such items as hotel room packages, the guitar of local artiste Alex Wong, champagne and art pieces, brought in well over 28,000 ringgit. Guests were treated to performances by Wong and ballerinas from a dance academy. Senior executives of local corporations such as Global Upline and Cahya Mata Sarawak also urged guests to support Habitat’s work in Malaysia.

Habitat first established its presence in 2000 in Sarawak’s capital Kuching where it had built its first home. HFH Malaysia has since relocated its national office to Kuala Lumpur in an effort to reach more families in need through partnerships with federal and state governments, other non-governmental organizations, local as well as international corporations and donors.