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No sight of the homes we dreamt of
25/06/2009 NST

I AM a purchaser of a plot of bungalow land (one of 600 plots) in a housing scheme in Batang Kali, Selangor. The developer abandoned the project in 2004, taking all the purchasers' money. Some of us had paid cash; others via bank loans. The bridging financier wound up the company and appointed a liquidator.

Over 50 per cent of the purchasers have formed a group to recover what we had paid. We discovered that the developer did not pay the redemption sum for our plots to the bridging financier so we are not recognised as purchasers.

Those of us who took loans are still paying as the banks insist on repayment. Interest accrues as the full loan has not been disbursed.

Even those who paid 100 per cent for their plots do not have legal title to them because the developer did not settle the premiums for the conversion and sub-division of the main land titles to the state authorities.

But there is no evidence that the developer is being pursued for the recovery of the monies by the bridging financier.

For some, our banks have foreclosed and are auctioning our plots even though they are in an abandoned project. Our lawyers tell us that the bridging financier can foreclose all the lands as they are secured creditors and we can all end up with nothing although, together, we had paid millions of ringgit.

We understand that the developer had not submitted audited accounts since 1997 but the Companies Commission of Malaysia allowed it to operate. Since the company and the directors are separate legal entities under the Companies Act, we cannot pursue them ourselves because our contract is with the company.

Who will be their next victims? Why are there such weaknesses in our Companies Act that house buyers like us can be left with nothing but debts? Why was there no monitoring of the original loan by the bridging financier and the banks?

We find it incredible that our money, which was collected in stages throughout the years, never made it to the bridging financier. Were there no questions asked?

What is the role of liquidators in all this? Silence, or the formulaic response: "the company does not have any money so we cannot do anything" and "wait for a white knight".

A white knight will not appear because the original developer has taken all the money and there is none to be made on the present scheme.

Purchasers are told they must find and fund a "self-help" scheme. New consultants can be appointed but at very high cost because here again, everyone wants to make a profit. This means we have to pay more money (again) which some of us can ill afford.

We plead with the state authorities to help us, and they have been hugely supportive, but there is a limit to their help as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of similar abandoned projects.

When and how will it all end? Some can write off their purchases as "mistakes". Others have sleepless nights as they are moving towards bankruptcy. Thousands of Malaysians are affected, but only few take the initiative to try to right a wrong.

It is difficult, time-consuming and frustrating but we need to care that fairness and justice prevails in our community.

We cannot do it alone and so we hope that everyone will join us to lobby for the end of such wrongful practices. If we won't do it for ourselves, then let us do it for future generations.

S.K.Kuala Lumpur

 

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