300 victims of abandoned housing projects want justice

From http://www.starproperty.my/PropertyScene/TheStarOnlineHighlightBox/8942/0/0 (accessed on 13 October, 2011)

By BAVANI M and FAZLEENA AZIZ
fazleena@thestar.com.my | Dec 13, 2010

It was a Family Day with a difference. Instead of laughter, there were tears of anguish and frustration for some 300 victims of abandoned housing projects and their families from all over Selangor who had gathered at Suria KLCC on Friday for a mutual cause – they want the government to take action against developers who fail to complete their projects.

The people who are members of the Abandoned Property Owners Malaysia (Victims) Association came clad in bright orange T-shirts with a message stating their plight.

The gathering, held inside the most iconic landmark in the country, the Petronas Twin Towers, was to prove a point to the government, that is, despite having achieved great development like the building, Malaysians still lack a basic right of having a roof over their heads.

Speaking to reporters, Victims pro-tem chairman Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan Abdul Rahman said even the right to register the association has been denied by the Registrar of Society Malaysia (ROS).

He said the ROS declined their application after recommendations made by the Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT).

“Right now there are more than 15,000 people from all over Peninsular Malaysia wanting to join us and we would like to appeal to the Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein to approve our application,” he said.

Dr Mohamed Rafick added that part of the main cause why people were often at the receiving end was due to flaws in the Housing Development Act.

“The laws in the country are written in such a way that it protects the interests of the developer right from the sale and purchase agreement to the content of details.

“For projects under construction, we do not have any legal rights or ownership of 50% or 80%.

“If we are late in making our payments, there is a penalty but if the project is delayed for five or six years, purchasers cannot claim late payment chargers,” he said, adding that the developers were able to terminate the agreement.

He added that changes and amendments to the present law are vital to ensure the interests of purchasers are also protected.

Dr Mohamed Rafick said the Housing and Local Government minister has the power to protect the purchasers under Act 118 of the Housing Development Act, which is not fully exercised.

He also added that Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd is unable to play its part as it was more profit-driven in the abandoned housing issues.

“They are no different from any other developer because they are not developing or reviving any projects.

“About 60% of abandoned projects are in Selangor and half of if belongs to or are related in some way to one particular company,” he said.

Victim Rufina Francis, 43, said her double-storey link house in Ukay Bistari, Ampang, is 80% complete but the project had stalled for several years now.

However, she has been paying the RM1,200 bank loan every month.

“It is taking a toll on me and my family as we are currently renting a house for RM1,000 a month.

“I have I fork out the money for my dream home and wonder how long more I have to keep paying for nothing,’’ said the mother of two schoolgoing children.

Every month as soon as she banks in the money, Rufina makes it a point to call the developer’s office to enquire about the house.

“They have given me all sorts of excuses and I wonder why the government cannot do something about this,’’ she said.

Another victim Philip Matthews, 44, who bought a medium-cost apartment in Ukay Bistari for RM110,000 has been servicing the loan interest since 2004.

“I have since paid over RM20,000 and my house has not even been built yet. It was supposed to have been ready in 2006. The developer has also not been forthcoming with any information,’’ he said. (emphasis added).

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