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White knight for abandoned projects
07/06/2008 NST By Chang Kim Loong

I refer to a recent news article in New Straits Times on the subject of a few housing projects in Puchong, Selangor, that were abandoned by their developer, Talam Corp Bhd.


I am extremely excited by the assurance made by Minister of Housing and Local Government Datuk Ong Ka Chuan that the plight of the victims would soon be over and that he will be making "a favourable announcement" this month.


He seems very confident that White Knight is in place to salvage the projects, made up of Taman Lestari Permai, Taman Lestari Puchong, Taman Saujana Puchong 9E and Taman Punchak Jalil Phase 10A.


The Honourable Minister was quoted as saying that "we are currently in talks with a 'White Knight' developer to salvage the project".


However, I wonder just how positive the talk is - I believe the talking has been going on for over two years already, without any solution in sight.


I also beg to disagree with the Honourable Minister that taking punitive action against the developer isn't his immediate priority.


For as long as the government continues to adopt such a stand, the Housing Development Act will continue to be breached because wayward developers will continue to try their luck.


Amending housing laws will not prevent housing project from being abandoned. This is more so when enforcement of the Act is so shabby.


The Honourable Minister seems to imply that because the Act has been amended three times, it has managed to achieve a reduction in the number of cases. But I think even a single case is one case too many!


In other words, every single person who has paid for his house must get his house.


He also said the state governments must be accountable for approving the land upon which projects are built.


Perhaps the Honourable Minister is unaware it is his Housing Ministry that issues the developers' licences and receives the security deposits from developers. It is also his ministry that is supposed to be the monitoring agent.


The Housing Ministry has been given wide-ranging powers to ensure housing projects are not abandoned. So what happened to all those safety nets that our Parliament put in place?


One can only symphatise with those buyers of abandoned projects who are so distressed they feel their only option is to march to Parliament so their grievances can be heard.


Having paid so much of their hard-earned savings but not getting their houses and with housing loan interests accumulating but no solution in sight, such actions are certainly justifiable.


Chang Kim Loong, AMN.

Hon. Secretary-General,

National House Buyers Association



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