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House buyers group fear abuse

Sunday Star 27/06/2004 By Lam Li

PETALING JAYA: A group of condominium buyers paid hefty sums for resort-concept dream homes in Johor but ended up moving into a place where roads, drainage, plumbing and wiring were incomplete.

Another 100 house buyers in Rawang had neither water nor electricity supply in their new homes.

A house owner in Klang had to face floods whenever it rained heavily and blamed the shoddy drainage works for the problem.

These were cases where house buyers were short-changed when architects issued undated certificates affirming the completion of various aspects of the housing projects for developers to claim final payments from buyers.

These cases were highlighted in Board of Architects Malaysia's (LAM) publication, Warta LAM, which listed the offences and penalties imposed on guilty architects.

The National House Buyers Association (HBA) cited these incidents to object to a Government proposal to rely on architects and engineers to certify the safety of new buildings and do away with the present system of having certificates of fitness (CF) issued by local authorities.

HBA secretary-general Chang Kim Loong said the plan would remove the check and balance mechanism and provide “absolute power” to architects or engineers, who were on the payroll of the developers.

“There are black sheep in the profession, albeit only a small percentage, and the Government must be present to be the last tier of verification.

“There were incidences of shoddy workmanship, premature and inaccurate certification and premature hand-over of vacant possession before the application of CF.

“A common threat in all these instances is that the architects were under pressure and coerced into submitting to the developers' wishes,” he said in an interview yesterday.

On Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Housing and Local Government Ministry would prepare a Cabinet paper on replacing CF with declarations from the professionals involved in a project.

He said the new policy was based on “trust” towards the private sector to fulfil its obligation and as part of the plan to reduce red tape and inefficiency that could lead to corruption in governmental departments.

Malaysian Architects Association (PAM) president Paul Lai Chu said the proposal must be studied in total by examining the role of various players, including building supervisors and contractors, involved in all stages of construction.

“In principle, PAM is in favour of the proposal for its positive impact on the time factor as it shortens the procedures by removing another layer of checks and clearance.

“However, we must be careful in its implementation to avoid a scenario where we are solving a problem at the expense of compromising other issues, such as safety.

“Acts and bylaws must be revamped to govern not only the performance and ethics of architects or engineers, but also supervisors and contractors who are equally important,” he said.

Institute of Engineers Malaysia president Prof Abang Abdullah Abang Ali believed that engineers were well governed by the professional board.

“We welcome the proposal. The profession already has an internal mechanism to deal with black sheep, they will be de-registered and cannot remain in the practice,” he said.


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