Publication - theSun

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Publication - theSun
ON FRIDAY
DEC 6, 2013
INSIGHTS
controversy
The
behind Petaling Jaya
Leasehold?
land titles
Freehold?
> Discussing the on-going debates and disputes
WHILE one group of homeowners are blasé
and ready to drop the long-standing and
“chronic” issue of leasehold land titles,
another group steadfastly fight for what they
say is rightfully theirs - freehold land titles.
Mak Khuin Weng, former Petaling Jaya
(PJ) councillor and long time advocate of
freehold land for PJ, is part of the group
that questions the validity of leasehold
titles. He, along with thousands of other
PJ homeowners, assert that due to a course
of exclusions and mistakes, several parts of
PJ were wrongly re-designated from
freehold to leasehold. They insist they have
enough factual evidence to prove their
claim, yet remain in the lurch after many
a time trying to get clear answers from the
State Government.
DID YOU KNOW?
HISTORY OF PJ
History indicates that Petaling Jaya was
previously private land under the ownership
of Petaling Estate. This was during the
British rule. This private land was then sold
off to the pioneer residents of PJ in 1953.
In 1955, the PJ area was gazetted as a town
under Section 6 of the Land Code, Cap 138.
This Cap 138 was THE law for land matters,
up until the National Land Code was enacted.
All the existing land lot numbers shown in
the survey plan of Petaling Estate had to be
combined to form one big PJ township.
Individual plots of land which the pioneers of
PJ bought, had to be sub-divided and given
new lot numbers. The plots of land under the
newly gazetted town would then have to be
re-drawn and re-divided.
The task of assigning lot numbers and
surveying individual parcels of land was to be
done by the Director of Survey. Only after the
completion of this exercise, could final titles
be issued.
THE PROBLEM
Mak explains that under the rules in
Cap 138, when an area is declared a town
(such as Petaling Estate), the land titles must
be amalgamated and sub-divided according
to the town plan.
Advertorial
“The actual development and sale of
houses to the pioneer residents of PJ
happened faster than the British government
could manage. The Kuala Lumpur district
officer of that time admitted that it was a
formidable task to survey Petaling Jaya.
Surveys were done for some areas, but with
such a short time to go before the country
would achieve independence, the Britishcontrolled government could not complete
the land survey before the independent
Malayan government took over,” added Mak.
Mak describes the period after
independence, until the time leasehold titles
were given out, as unclear. Nevertheless, one
thing was obvious, not all surveys for the new
township had been done. Therefore, not all
the final freehold land titles were issued to
the pioneer PJ residents as they should
have been.
STEP BY STEP PROCESS FOR
LAND RE-ALIENATION
1.The applicant needs to submit
the Land Re-alienation form
(Permohonan Pemberimilikan Tanah)
to the State Land Office.
2.The land will then be checked by a
settlement officer, who will submit a
report to EXCO for approval.
3.The land will then have to go
through a re-alienation process by
the land administrator.
4.When the re-alienation is approved,
the land office will issue a Notice that
Land Revenue is Due (Form 5A).
5.The owner will then need to pay a
premium and wait for the Land
Office to inform the applicant when
he or she can collect the Land Title.
Note: The process of Land Re-alienation
could take up to a year.
* Information obtained from Christopher
Chan of Hartamas Real Estate (Malaysia).
PIP Expo 2013
The 13th edition of the Penang
International Property Expo 2013 (PIP
2013) brings with it some of the best
developments in Penang and exclusive
properties of Kuala Lumpur.
Touted as the biggest property show of
the year, it is also said to have come at just
the right time, with the current uncertain
property scene where many have adopted
a “wait and see” attitude.
Visitors to PIP 2013 can delight in the
two day fair which will be held at Straits
Quay Convention Centre (SQCC) in
Penang, on Dec 28 and 29, 2013. With
the large number of visitors in the past,
this year, the hosts expect some 20,000
over to attend, especially with more
than 30 developers already signed up
as exhibitors.
Enjoy exciting
and informative
forums on topics
like property frauds
and implications of
the 2014 budget on house buyers;
interesting talks on “Feng Hsui”; or see if
you can beat the rules imposed by the
Treasury department with the year end
“bargains” on offer.
The highlight at this year’s expo, other
than the presence of chief minister Lim
Guan Eng’s on opening day, is the public
registration for the State/PDC (Penang
Development Corporation) affordable
housing schemes conducted by the State
Housing Department. The public can also
update their earlier registrations for
low-cost and medium-cost homes.
“In order for the State Government to
rightfully issue leasehold titles, it would have
had to own the land before leasing it to
buyers. Did the State Government buy the
land from the pioneer residents of Petaling
Jaya in order to make it State land? If so,
does the State Government have any
documentation to show this? If the State
never bought the land, how did the land
title change from freehold to leasehold?”
asks a homeowner who only wants to be
known as Izran.
THE PEOPLE QUESTION
Fifty eaight-year old Arun Sellapan
owns a home in Section 2 in PJ. Expressing
disappointment over the lack of action on the
issue, he questions how long he and other
leasehold homeowners have to carry on
paying the premiums to renew their lease.
“We’ve paid so much but in the end it’s still a
leasehold property that we’re staying in.”
“If PJ land was originally freehold, then
why should we extend our leases? How
can freehold land be converted to
leasehold? We are holding out until the
last minute, waiting for the State
Government to correct this issue or at
least give us an explanation,” he laments.
Alan Yee from PJ Section 4 has a string
of questions he’d like answer to. “If the
whole of PJ was under the Petaling
Estate, where is the logic in only making
certain parts of PJ freehold and the
others leasehold?”
He also echoes the sentiments of his
neighbours who feel that the leasehold
concept is just an old British system that
isn’t relevant today. “We still follow what
the British put in place but even Britain
has gone on to review their leasehold
system,” he says, referring to the
Leasehold Reform Act (1967).
PROBABLE SOLUTION
Since all this happened a long time ago,
under a different government and
regulation, Mak says that from a legal
perspective, existing laws which lean
towards using the “old” law (the Land
Code Cap 138), should be used to rectify
the situation.
In Section 56 of the Selangor Land
Rules, it is stated that for any land that has
been approved for alienation under a
previous land law, but has in fact, not been
alienated, the Registrar may prepare and
register the document of title under the
previous land law.
“This basically means that any land
transaction that took place before 1965
should continue to use the previous land
law and have the land titles issued under
the previous law. This establishes the fact
that land matters governing Petaling Jaya
should abide by the previous land law of
Cap 138,” says Mak.
“What these homeowners have been
fighting for is for freehold land titles. The
right thing to do would be for the State
Government to complete the surveys
started by the British and issue freehold
titles accordingly.
“Estate land under the British
government was freehold. Once land is
freehold, it should remain freehold,”
says Mak.
*The Land Office of Selangor State, District of
Petaling has been addressed for comment. At the
time of print we had yet to receive a response.
XX Please email your queries to us:
[email protected]
CUT AND KEEP
* When the lease on a leasehold
property expires, the ownership is
reverted back to the State Government.
*Should the homeowner decide to
“renew” the lease on the property
which lease has expired, he or she
would need to put in an application for
Land Re-alienation.
*Although this may sound indefinite and
a tedious task, experts say this is a
simple and common process practiced
here, and very rare for a renewal not to
be approved.
*For leasehold property where the term
has not expired but nearing expiry, the
homeowner can apply for an
“extension” of the lease.
ON friday
DEC 13, 2013
Abandoned projects
INSIGHTS
PART 1
real estate nightmare
B
> Aggravated by confusion, lack of meaningful direction, evasion and equivocation
uying a house or land to
build a home may come as
quite the norm for many.
After all, how often do we
hear about or meet someone who
has bought a property that was
abandoned soon after.
Log on to the National House
Buyers Association website
www.hba.org.my and click on the
abandoned projects section. You
will be shocked to see the number
of abandoned local property
development projects throughout
the years. The figures are
disconcerting, scary and
alarming. Sifting through the
individual “cases”, published
comments and articles
tearfully penned by the
owners will expose how lives,
finances and confidence have
been adversely affected.
Saran Kaur and Bob Steedman
are two such persons whose
resilience has been put to acid test.
For years, they have had to
sacrifice fulltime jobs in order to
fight for justice, to obtain what
they, along with their fellow
Genting Valley property
purchasers, had paid for but are
yet to receive.
than 40 acres (in some States more
than 100 acres), the developer
needs to get consent from the
Estate Land Board. This was not a
case where the developer did not
get the required consent. The
developers DID NOT even
APPLY for it.
Bob questions how and why
the relevant Selangor state
government body allowed this
kind of dubious operation during
2000 to 2003. Also, what this state
government, and its senior
office-bearers, are doing now
(in 2013) to resolve the problem by
specifying unequivocal policies
and meaningful direction.
Purchaser Saran informed
theSun that The Genting Valley
property scheme encompasses
four Master Titles:
1) Geran 40535 consisting of
Lot Nos. 2527 and 2528;
2) G
eran 47606 consisting
of Lot Nos. 2529
and 2530;
3) Geran 46247
consisting of
Lot No. 1342; and
eran 39990
4) G
consisting of
Lot No. 1333.
GENTING VALLEY CASE
"At the time of
purchase, the
developer was Jade
San Realty Sdn Bhd
with Dato' Seri Lim
Chong and Datin Seri
Ng Yok Sant listed
among the company
directors. The
institution financing
this development was
Hong Leong Finance
Berhad, now known
as Hong Leong Bank
Berhad (HLBB). End
financiers involved
in this property
development scheme
included several
prominent banks",
Bob informed.
The Genting Valley project was
launched in the year 2000, offering
bungalow plots of various sizes in
Batang Kali (Hulu Selangor
district). Besides Malaysians, the
buyers also included some
foreigners via the Malaysia My
Second Home programme. Many
were intending this to serve as
their retirement homes. However,
12-13 years after the "supposed
launch", none of the purchasers of
this abandoned development
project, own or possess the
land they invested in. Instead,
they have a running bank loan
which must be serviced. Besides
frustration and exasperation
aggravated by the lack of
willingness of all relevant bodies
and authorities to resolve the
problem or even provide savvy
advice and guidance.
CUT AND KEEP
Background
Jade San Realty Sdn Bhd launched
the Genting Valley project some
13 years ago. It consisted of FIVE
phases – 1, 2, 2A, 2B and 3. The
development site initially bore
the title “agricultural land”.
Previously a rubber estate*, it was
later converted to an oil palm
estate. The land area of the entire
mentioned project amounts to 740
acres. Under this project, within
200 acres of the development,
plots of land in various sizes were
offered to purchasers between the
years 2000 and 2003, sold at RM13
to RM20 per sq. ft.
*Note: “Within the National
Land Code, estates are given
special treatment. The intention
was to ensure that estate workers
were “protected” and developers
could not just move in and take
away their livelihood for some
trivial reason. each State, within
the National Land Code, has its
own Estate Land Board which
ensures that workers are not
displaced from estates.
If the area involved is more
Non-Delivery
Nightmare
The gist of the real estate
nightmare: “Purchase of plots
of bungalow land with
infra-structure (which should be
equipped with water, electricity,
sewerage system, roads,
pavements, streetlights etc)
specified in the sale and purchase
(S&P) agreement, was nowhere to
be found," Saran reveals. Instead
they encountered nightmarish
non-delivery.
Just consider the water supply
and electricity functions:
•T
here was no water supply
•T
he water tank that was
to serve all 665 plots was never
built
•T
he pipeline to serve the tank
was never made
• S ewerage works were never
completed
•T
he connection to TNB was
never done
So how did the engineer sign off
documents confirming 100%
completion, questions Saran.
Four houses were built on Phase
One (including two show houses).
But owners cannot occupy them
since basic utilities, electricity and
water had not been connected.
Material bought to refurbish the
homes have been stolen, including
windows, gates, fencing.
Contractors who built the house
were happy to connect all the
pipes, water, electricity et all...till
faced with the frightening
reality of abandonment.
Purchasers are still paying for
their plots of land. Yet, they are
unable to build homes, reside in it
or get on with their lives. Some
have been coerced to declare
bankruptcy, unable to service
bank loans. Others have had to
look for alternative places/homes
and pay for that instead.
Several purchasers who had
intended this to be their
retirement home, have already
retired but still do not have a
home. Some spouses have passed
away and surviving partners still
have no home.
DETAILS UNRAVELLED
Bob, who chairs the Pro-Tem
Committee of the Genting Valley
Purchasers Group, informed
theSun: “There were 665 plots on
offer, 627 were sold. The 400 to
500 people under our Group are
amongst owners of these 627
plots. Ten percent of the S&P was
collected, after which
intermittent payments were
made, depending on the works
carried out. In the case of Phase
One which involved over 200
buyers, the engineers and the
developer signed off the job as
100% completed. We paid 100%
along with other purchasers.
Unfortunately realising later that
although we could see at each
plot, the water pipes, the
electricity cables, the sewage
pipes etc, we didn’t know that
there was nothing completed at
the other end.”
After many tedious hours of
pleading and pursuing relevant
parties, the people/companies
involved, banks, organisations,
government, semi-government
bodies and ministries, the group
learnt that:
•T
he (application for)
conversion from plantation
land to residential land was
never applied for;
•T
he sub-division of the master
titles into individual plots was
never completed;
• Although the State
Government had given approval,
the developer had not paid all of
the premiums.
"So what we have until today is
a plot of agricultural land with no
title!” Bob declares.
Today, Batang Kali is
flourishing as a township.
Development has also attracted
many city dwellers to move in
with thousands of houses in the
area, both planned and under
construction. Real estate prices
have shot up with Ligamas Sdn
Bhd being among the main
developers operating in the area.
“Members of our group
bought plots of land from
Jade San Realty between the
years 2000 and 2003. In 2004,
the developer apparently
abandoned the project, all
five phases,” informs Bob.
Avoiding further discussions
and allegedly even stationing
bouncers at their office
premises to ward off irate
purchasers.
Finally 10 exasperated
purchasers got together in
2005-06 and formed The
Genting Valley Purchasers
Group.
In March 2007, group
members requisitioned a
meeting with HLBB,
the main financier, enquiring
about their purchased plots.
They were informed that the
developer’s firm had wound
up and the company was going
into liquidation. The bank later
disclosed the names of the
liquidators (Dr Ler Cheng
Chye and Mr Lum Tuck
Cheong), and arranged a
meeting with them a year later.
Very shortly the group
swelled to include 400 to 500
aggrieved members.
In March 2012, HLBB
apparently agreed in principle to
a rehabilitation proposal from a
white knight sourced by the
group. Non-completion of
neccesary documentation seems
to have derailed the process.
Following a meeting chaired by
YB Teresa Kok in January 2013,
rehabilitation discussions
returned to the table. Talks are
currently in progress to explore
rehabilitation and other
arrangement schemes, though
their execution timeline
remains uncertain.
QUESTIONS ARISING
and NEXT STEPS
Such home investments are
largely made by hard-working
PMEBs, hoping to ensure some
decent comforts during the
evening of their lives.
Consequently, this group,
other suffering purchasers
of abandoned projects, potential
property purchasers, the
real estate industry and
theSun readers are seeking
unequivocal answers to 7 issues/
questions arising.
CLARIFICATIONS sought...
From the Selangor
Government
1) T
he Ministry of Housing has
allegedly informed that this
does not fall under their
purview, since these are plots
and "not houses". Is this correct?
2) Consequently, which Selangor
state government ministry (or
body) is the appropriate
authority under whose purview
this problem falls?
3) Even so, does the Menteri
Besar's office have a role to
play towards ensuring the rights
and welfare of law-abiding, tax
paying citizens and voters, who
are being accidentally victimised
by an establishment of which he
is the current CEO?
From the Banks/
Financial Institutions
4) What are the roles and
responsibilities of the main
bank and other institutions
financing the development and
purchases.
• Towards (a) the developer,
and (b) the purchasers who
are ultimately producing the
funds which will earn the
bankers' profit.
• In the Genting Valley Group's
case, this list includes several
prominent banks.
5) C
an at least some of these banks
provide a check-list of basic
guidelines for potential
purchasers to ensure they are
well-informed and protected
before signing S&P documents.
6) W
hat is the role of the official
liquidator(s)? Do the liquidators
require seven years to table and
execute a pragmatic proposal to
resolve a problem?
From the Legal Experts
7) Finally, when a project "is
abandoned" what steps and
measures should the aggrieved
(or duped) purchasers take to
regain their legitimate rights
and financial investment.
*Follow our column next week to
Now entering its seventh year,
learn more about this and other
the group is still groping in the
abandoned projects, the latest
dark, coping with evasion,
twists in the liquidation process
confusing finger-pointing,
and any unequivocal answers
equivocation, non-answers and
which can be extracted from
aggravating bureaucratic modus
relevant bodies.
operandi... with not even
the apparition of a
tunnel in sight, forget
XX Please email your queries to us:
[email protected]
about the proverbial
light at the end.
ON friday
DEC 20, 2013
INSIGHTS
PART 2
Abandoned projects
real estate (p)lots
> Caveat: You may not always get what you have been shown...
L
ast week’s article ended leaving
the reader (and theSun) anxious,
knowing The Genting Valley
Purchasers Group (referred to as
“a/the member” hereafter) were formally
meeting the Liquidators of their
abandoned property project. Here is the
summarised essence of the meeting which
was held on Dec 10, 2013 at Seng Peng Hall
in Wisma Chinese Chamber.
• Three meetings were held separately
– for purchasers of Phases 2 and 3 at
9.30am; for purchasers of Phases 2A and
2B at 12.30pm; and for purchasers of
Phase 1 at 3pm.
• Purchasers who queried about the
meeting agenda earlier were told to
attend and find out, which they did.
• After registration, the agenda included
a briefing on the findings postulated
by the liquidators and ended with
other matters arising with no
rehabilitation proposal being made.
(Below) Images in The Genting Valley property development brochure and the two showhouses, as they stand today. Apart from four
other houses which are unfit for occupancy (refer images bottom left), the land is barren, exposing the canard and untruths couched
in the 80% and 100% "completed" reports.
Jasmine
Rosea
still unresolved...
CUT AND KEEP
The outcome according to Saran Kaur,
a member: “Each session covered in a
generic sense the liquidation process and
the role of the Liquidators. Findings
were brief and restricted to estimates by
unnamed consultants on the percentage
of work required for the completion of
each phase. There was discussion on
process S176, the Scheme of Arrangement
under the Companies Act but there was
no information on the nature of a proposal
or a scheme for the rehabilitation of our
plots. Although ‘top-up’ was referred to
several times, no quantum was mentioned
at any of the three meetings."
"For the future, no time line as to any
action by the Liquidators was provided.
The Liquidators confirmed that the
Chargee Bank, Hong Leong Bank Berhad
(HLBB), continues its consent to waive the
redemption sums of Cash Purchasers paid
to the Developer, Jade San Realty Sdn. Bhd.
(in liquidation) but not passed by the
Developer to the Bank". [This was,
supposedly, part of the arrangements made
between The Genting Valley Purchasers
Group and the Bank in July 2010].
"Reference was made to seeking the
High Court’s consent to the Liquidators’
scheme, whatever that may be. The
Liquidators will then convene a S176
Creditors Meeting, where attendees will
be asked to accept or reject the scheme on
offer. The Liquidators said that there will be
three schemes, each covering the phases
according to the meetings.”
question by a purchaser, the Liquidators’
legal consultant stated that... if no Scheme
of arrangement could be agreed
amongst the parties despite reasonable
attempts, the Liquidators will be entitled
to disclaim the Sale and Purchase
agreements of the purchasers. In effect,
the lands purchased would revert to the
developer, Jade San Realty Sdn. Bhd.
(in liquidation). The Liquidators will
then be free to dispose the lands as they
deem appropriate.”
Removing all the complexities
surrounding the issue, Saran asks if "this
sounds at all fair? Is this what justice is
about?" The simple truth is that this is just
reported as one of the 49,641 cases of
“delayed”, “sick” and “abandoned”
hobson's choice
projects. These may seem just statistics
Here is the stickler – “In response to a
gleaned from the local Ministry of
Housing, but in reality, reflect the
searing pain and tears of nearly
No gate, guard or housing development
50,000 victims.
No updates for 2013 are available on
1.Plot(s) of land with infra-structure ready 3.Gated and guarded for which members were
the Ministry's website.
to build homes. Phases 2, 2A, 2B and 3
to be charged a monthly maintenance fee.
– Purchasers paid up to 80% of the S&P
Phase 1 purchasers were billed (and some
reality check
price but still cannot find how 80% of the
paid) maintenance fees, and were charged
Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan is the
works were deemed "completed".
two years in advance, along with quit rent.
president of VICTIMS Malaysia, an
association that fights for the interest of
abandoned “building owners”. He also
heads the sub-committee of an
abandoned project in Ukay Bistari that
was launched in 2003, and is still pending
completion today. A victim himself, he
estimates the number of abandoned
houses to have crossed 61,000 in
November 2013. “Let’s just say the
average cost of a house is around
Lush greenery, not where you want it.
Entrance to Phase 1 of the Genting Valley
RM150,000. We are thus, looking at a
development.
humongous RM9.15 billion problem.
Besides obviously affecting the
2.Title deed to members' plot/s – Master Titles were not sub-divided or converted from
economy of Malaysia, this most
agricultural to residential use. No individual titles were issued. Yet, this section was
directly affects the lives, dreams and
deemed and signed off as "80% completed".
security of several thousand
families. It also reduces their
disposable income,” he opines.
Dr Rafick related the many obstacles
he had to overcome from various
“bodies” in order to set up VICTIMS
Malaysia. This included KPKT which
objected to the formation of the
association through the Registrar of
Companies (ROS) in the early years.
After a decade pursuing the property
dilemma of PHUKB victims, they can
Exclusive bungalow plots with facilities?
finally see some light at the end of the
proverbial tunnel. Owners of five of the
six blocks of condominiums under the
UK Bistari mixed development project
finally received the keys to their home.
The last block, where Dr Rafick's lot is,
will soon be handed over.
“As the president of VICTIMS
Malaysia, and having tried to help many
other purchasers of abandoned
properties, I feel sad to say that I have seen
more failures than successes. The
Ministry can call it whatever they
want – delayed projects, sick projects,
abandoned projects. What the
Ministry is trying to do is spread out
the statistics to show a minimal
number of abandoned projects. They
are just manipulating the figures.
Ironically, there are several projects that
are delayed and sick, since the late 80s
and mid 90s. Still, these have not been
classified as abandoned."
“As the issue now is on abandoned
projects, our attention should not
only be on the buildings. We should
simultaneously focus our attention
on the economic implications thrust
upon the affected families. The housing
industry is a regulated industry. How can
a regulated industry have abandoned
housing projects, especially those that
have been abandoned for years and/or
decades?” questions Dr Rafick.
Tan Koay Lye is owner and victim of
an abandoned property project. He and
others bought into The Legend Farmstead,
a 667-acre development project in Batang
Kali under Peninsular Park Sdn Bhd, a
subsidiary of Metroplex Berhad. They
waited out more than two decades for
some form of closure or reasonable
rehabilitation proposal. Finally, being
compensated with a pitiful 40 sen per
sq ft for land which they acquired 20
years ago @ RM4 per sq ft. Even
discounting the price inflation, Tan
equates this with "daylight robbery".
"What has happened to justice and
integrity? Is there any "body"
protecting the rights and interests
of property purchasers in Malaysia,
both locals and foreigners? Is this
what the National Land Code
equates to?" he asks.
* Follow our column next week on more
abandoned property projects, including views
on what can and should be done to settle
backlog cases and prevent recurrence.
XX Please email your queries to us:
[email protected]
ON friday
DEC 27, 2013
INSIGHTS
J
UST two well-researched articles in
theSun about abandoned property
projects has precipitated a cathartic
outpouring of diatribes and emotions.
We are shocked by the incessant flow
of telephone calls, emails, letters and
tearful outbursts over the past 2 weeks.
Our analysis has obviously touched a
sensitive nerve, exposing a serious
problem which requires urgent
intervention by the government,
relevant authorities and even the
project-financing banks.
Today, we are summarizing the key
issues gleaned from our recent analysis
plus some pragmatic suggestions and
pointers voiced by the "suffering
purchasers".
PART 3
Abandoned projects
For the record...
> Frustrated, tearful out-pouring from the rakyat
about a vicious problem which has been allowed to fester
for too long....
ukay bistari victim
Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan, president of
VICTIMS Malaysia, is a victim of an
abandoned property development
himself. “In the case of abandoned
housing projects and the number of lives
affected, I have zero respect for the
government, zero respect for the Ministry
of Housing, because I feel they are not
doing their jobs. Decision makers are not
taking authoritative steps and executing
remedial measures. Housing Act laws still
do not protect the interest of purchasers.
If you look at the National Land Code, the
government actually has the power to take
over a parcel of land even if someone has
purchased it. The buyers are “naked”, they
are not protected. Under section 352, the
State Government can evoke abandoned
land. Therefore, the issue of abandoned
land can be settled and solved, but the
authorities are simply not taking
appropriate decisive steps to solve these
problems,” he says.
Dr Rafick believes that this problem
of abandoned projects arises largely
due to:
1) Poor existing laws and
enforcement procedures, which
have been biased against house
purchasers since 1969
2) Poor, inconsistent and intentional
mismanagement of project finances
3) Scope for shareholders to exploit
'corporate veils' in order to avoid
prosecution
CUT AND KEEP
genting valley
purchasers
Bob Steedman and Saran Kaur are on the
committee of The Genting Valley
Purchasers Group, still waiting for the
liquidators Dr Ler Cheng Chye and Mr
Lum Tuck Cheong to make some form
of a proposal, so the owners can move
on with their lives. “Many of us can’t
afford lawyers. For nearly seven years,
we have been trying to come up with an
amicable settlement outside the courts
knowing that we do not have the financial
means to sustain a long drawn legal battle
in court. We just want what is ours – our
just and legal rights that we have paid for.
For medium income-earners like us,
“experienced” lawyers and solicitors
would prove prohibitingly expensive.
How can average purchasers like us,
who are in this difficult situation, gain
access to justice? The banks and
liquidators, having deep pockets, can
keep us in court for the rest of our lives.
A substantial number of the people who
bought into this scheme are retirees
who have suffered now for 10 years
without a home,” they share.
Bob and Saran have invested
substantial time and money running from
pillar to post. From banks to government
bodies, various authorities, state federal
government officials, even corporate
bigwigs... without any relief. The last
meeting with the liquidators ended
like all else has in the past, without any
practical proposition, decision, direction
or resolution.
"Who else can we turn to ...as there is
no one above this court appointed
administrator?” Saran opines.
Pragmatic suggestions
Dr Rafick tables some pragmatic
suggestions on how government can
resolve the issue of abandoned property
projects which has “frozen” billions
of Ringgit of suffering and duped
property purchasers.
* We need a very strong muscle
taskforce, a dedicated team of people
that mean business. They should
consist of an AG, representatives from
the police, the bank/s, income tax
department, Ministry of Housing, a
state representative and
representatives from the buyers
group. We need to sit down and make
decisions on each of these late, sick
and abandoned projects so lives can
move on. [Problems cannot be solved
in meeting rooms, and by endless
talking without resolution/closure.]
* Take each project one by one. Study it
from every angle and decide if the
developer can be “squeezed” or
penalised. Then use the current laws
effectively to settle and resolve each
of these backlogged abandoned
project cases.
* To prevent further recurrences, S&P
agreements need to be looked into
and amended, as the current ones are
all in favour of the developer.
CLARIFICATIONS sought...
From the Selangor
Government
WIDESPREAD ANGST
A member of the public, who wishes to
remain anonymous, suggested that the
government use the Build-Then-Sell (BTS)
concept. “The system is not new. It was
introduced years ago but put in place only
in the last Housing Development Act
amendment. The biggest mistake is that
this law was not made mandatory. If
developers have a choice, they would
naturally opt for the one that is to their
benefit.” The BTS concept is also called the
10-90 system, where the purchaser pays just
10% upon signing the S&P, and the balance
90% only upon the hand over of the
completed, constructed house. “Now
wouldn’t this be a dream come true if this law
were enforced?” he adds wistfully.
“Being nice doesn’t work anymore, yet
they say our “group” of property purchasers
are troublemakers. If our queries and
problems had been duly addressed and
resolved, we would not have any reason
for this persistant probing.”
"None of the relavant authorities have
stepped forward to help resolve the problem.
It has thus reached a point where we need to
behave in a manner which ensures our voice
and opinions are heard.”
Another “victim” states: “At our recent
meeting with the liquidators, there was a
hint that they wanted us to “TOP UP” for
rehabilitation of the land. What more do
they want? Where in heaven’s name do they
think we can get more money from? We are
already in full debt. The least they can do,
even if the land is not converted, is to give us
the title ownership. That would at least give
us some locus standi.”
SIMMERING QUESTION(S)
“The role of the liquidator is supposed
to be independent and unbiased. They
are supposed to examine all assets of the
party going into liquidation, prioritising
and ranking all the debtors according
to the quantum of financial debts as per
accepted practice.
Unfortunately the house purchasers are
always placed at the very bottom of this rung,
the last to receive anything, ...if at all.”
The liquidators are apparently appointed
by the court. “Curiously however, the
“names” of the liquidators are submitted
by the developers in the liquidation
request submission letter where the
developer will usually propose three
liquidators. Is this fair and unbiased?”
“Existing Malaysian laws have too many
loopholes. Further, relavant authorities are
not pursuing the required due diligence and/
or executing proactive measures to fulfill
their responsibility to protect the public.
Not surprisingly this has now snowballed
into a humungous problem affecting nearly
RM10 billion in suffering purchasers' funds.
How long can the authorities continue
fooling people with artificial reports and
doctored figures?”
1) T
he Ministry of Housing has
allegedly informed that abandoned,
incomplete housing projects do not
fall under their purview, since these
are considered "plots" and "not
houses". Is this correct?
2) Consequently, which Selangor state
government ministry (or body) is the
appropriate authority under whose
purview this problem falls?
3) Even so, does the Menteri Besar's
office have a role to play towards
ensuring the rights and welfare of
law-abiding, tax paying citizens and
voters, who are being accidentally
victimised by an establishment of
which he is the current CEO?
From the Banks/Financial
Institutions
4) What are the roles and
responsibilities of the main bank and
other institutions financing the
development and purchases.
• Towards (a) the developer,
and (b) the purchasers who
are ultimately producing the funds
which will earn the bankers' profit.
• In the Genting Valley Group's case,
this list includes several prominent
banks.
5) Can at least some of these banks
provide a check-list of basic
guidelines for potential purchasers to
ensure they are well-informed and
protected before signing S&P
documents.
6) What is the role of the official
liquidator(s)? Do the liquidators
require seven years to table and
execute a pragmatic proposal to
resolve a problem?
From the Legal Experts
7) Finally, when a project "is abandoned"
what steps and measures should the
aggrieved (or duped) purchasers take
to regain their legitimate rights and
financial investment.
XXPlease email your comments
and queries to us:
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