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Plugging CF loopholes to protect house buyers

The Star 28/06/2004

KUALA LUMPUR: The interest and rights of house buyers will be protected before the Government decides to replace the issuance of certificates of fitness (CFs) by local authorities with declarations by professionals such as engineers and architects.

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said his ministry would look into a system which could check abuses by the black sheep among the professionals.

Describing the Prime Minister's proposal as another bold and decisive step in showing his determination to reduce bureaucracy and check corruption, he said:

“The safety and interest of housebuyers and the public must be safeguarded and developers must not be allowed to influence the professionals when implementing such a policy.”

“The Government will not rush into it until we put in place a system where all players are committed and the original objectives of ensuring the fitness of buildings and the safety of the occupants are achieved,” Ong said in a statement yesterday.

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced on Friday the proposal to do away with the CF requirement for new buildings.

Ong said a special action committee was set up last month immediately after the Prime Minister made the suggestion to the Cabinet. This committee, he said, would discuss with professional bodies and related government agencies to work out the details.

He said he supported Abdullah's efforts in cutting down red tape to improve the public delivery system and appreciated his attention and leadership in regulating the building industry, which was vital to increase the country's competitiveness.

Meanwhile, the National House Buyers Association said the proposal would only work if the build-and-sell concept was put into practice.

Secretary-general Chang Kim Loong said if house buyers did not pay developers until the units were completed and safe to be occupied, it would ensure protection for buyers.

“By replacing CFs, which means taking away the last tier of check and balance, house buyers will be less protected,” he said.

“House buyers only want to buy houses which are safe. Punishing the professionals will not help to protect the buyers,” he said at a press conference before a seminar on complaints and guides for first-time house buyers at the Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday.

Fomca vice-president K. Koris said he disagreed with the proposal if it was implemented on large housing projects.

“Large housing schemes cannot just go through declarations by architects and professional because we do not want another Highland Towers case,” he said.

However, he pointed out that the proposal would be useful for schemes, which had less than 10 units, including poor families who built their own houses.

DAP national chairman Lim Kit Siang said the Government must establish “beyond a shadow of a doubt” that the interests of the ordinary house buyers would be better served by such a change and not the reverse.

He added that the proposal to replace the CF should be made public.


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