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Review of laws on housing to be carried out

NST 26/01/2000 By Chong See Seong

Muar, Tues. - The Housing and Local Government Ministry is reviewing all existing legislation to incorporate additional safequards to protect the interests of house buyers.

Its Minister Datuk Ong Ka Ting said the move was aimed at plugging loopholes in local government Acts and other relevant laws.

He said the ministry would listen to feedback from the public,  housing developers and house purchasers before going ahead with the plan.

"We are looking into ways to reduce complaints from distraught house buyers about shoddy workmanship, abandoned projects or late delivery of houses," he told reporters after attending the Millennium Unity Night organised by Johor MCA Youth here last night.

Ong said he had received numerous complaints within one month of assuming office in the ministry (previously he was Deputy Home Minister), adding that he would keep his "ears open" and evaluate the feedback to resolve the issue.

He said some of the problems like poor drainage in housing estates could be overcome immediately, although other matters would take time if they required amendments to local government Acts and other laws.

"The Acts or laws must be studied carefully to identify the flaws. A draft amendment has to be approved by the Attorney-General's Chambers before it can be submitted to the Cabinet and Parliament.

"It will take several months before the amendments becomes law," he said. adding that the ministry was committed to protecting the interests of house buyers.

Ong noted that most house buyers did not pay attention to details in the sale and purchase agreements, which are usually prepared by lawyers who are appointed by developers.

"It is time purchasers be more professional about this and take time to read and understand the document to ensure it is not lopsided and has provisions to protect their rights and interests.

He chided lawyers who did not take time to advice their clients on the SPA, adding that problems often cropped up when the housing projects were abandoned or delayed due to the cash flow problems of developers.

He said the country's economic recovery would be a boon for the construction industry, although he cautioned developers not to speculate on the property market.

Ong said the ministry would hold a high-level dialogue on Thursday with developers, house buyers' association, professional bodies like architects, town planners and related agencies.


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