Friday, August 20, 2010

Raja Nong Chik - FT Ministry to assist poor to get low-cost housing loans

KUALA LUMPUR: There is renewed hope for applicants of the City Hall low-cost housing whose loan applications were turned down by the banks as the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry is going all out to assist them to own the properties.

In a statement, minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin said the ministry had arranged various measures to enable the applicants to obtain their loans to enable them to have a home in the capital city.

They include facilitating the process of Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawals and helping buyers without fixed income to get Housing Credit Guarantee Scheme (SJKP) loans.

"Other steps include getting the approval of the appointed banks to give up to 120 per cent loan with the minimum wage set at RM1,000 a month and setting up a special unit to monitor the buyers' loan and approval processes from the banks," said Raja Nong Chik.

"The ministry will also ensure that the approval for each loan will be settled within three months beginning Aug 1. I hope the appointed banks will assist these buyers as they have promised to me."

Raja Nong Chik also hoped the buyers would expedite their loan applications so that it could be processed within the stipulated time.

"As an alternative, the ministry suggests that the government set up a special fund which will be managed by the Ministry of Finance to prepare loans for these buyers, should the (other) plans fail.

"The ministry is trying hard to ensure those eligible can buy the low-cost houses. This is in tandem with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's commitment based on the 1Malaysia concept, which is Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan or in other words, prioritising the rakyat's needs and the nation's achievements."

On July 9, The Malay Mail front-paged a report quoting sources who claimed only 2,500 made the cut from the more than 30,000 applicants for the 44,146 Projeck Perumahan Rakyat flats up for ownership in Kuala Lumpur — just eight per cent of the total. This translated to a mere five per cent of residents from each parliamentary constituency being eligible.

Sources had claimed then that among the major problems were the reluctance of banks to aid the process — the original problem the home-ownership scheme was aimed at solving.

On July 11, a memorandum on purchasing the PPR homes by way of 'rent and buy' was handed over to Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at the Setiawangsa Umno division delegates meeting.

On July 19, the ministry announced there would be no hire-purchase option for those seeking to buy PPR low-cost flats as City Hall, which is administrating this home-purchase scheme, was not a registered financial institution under Bank And Financial Institution Act (BAFIA), making it unauthorised to offer hire-purchases of the PPR low-cost homes under the scheme.

Raja Nong Chik said to date, 23, 211 applicants had agreed to buy low-cost units.

"Out of the number, 18,201 are eligible for bank loans, while 4,570 are those eligible with conditions. Those eligible with conditions are those who still have outstanding rental payment owed to City Hall."


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bangsar residents demand their promised land

KUALA LUMPUR: Where is our open space as promised? This is the question in the minds of Bangsar residents, wondering just why the authorities still delay the return of an open space 'taken' away from them more than 30 years ago.
"Whether the open space was intentionally or mistakenly taken away from us is not the question anymore. We have been promised that open space by the authorities and it is time for promises to be delivered," said Bangsar Baru Resident Association president Datuk George Joseph.

"We were grateful for the promise by KL mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail shortly after assuming office in 2008 that the land would be returned to the people and it would remain an open space. But the promise has yet to be delivered."

In Dec 2008, The Malay Mail frontpaged the story of a plot of land — now estimated to be worth RM17 million — that housed a luxury car showroom instead of being a public open land.

The 22,000 square foot plot in Jalan Maarof, opposite the Saidina Abu Bakar As-Siddiq Mosque, was surrendered by the developer Eng Lian Enterprise to the authorities in 1977 as part of the condition of the development plans.

The land, which was supposed to have been gazetted as an open space for residents, had been 'home' to an open-air luxury car showroom for the past 15 years.

Melor Travels Sdn Bhd paid a premium of RM2 million and obtained a 99-year lease on the land.

While there were many grey areas on the status of the land and whether any party had forgotten to make an application to gazette it as an open space, the mayor intervened and stated the land would go back to the people and City Hall would not approve any development plans there.

An alternative site of equal value was to have been given to Melor Travels in exchange for the piece of land. The task of looking for an alternative site was assigned to the Federal Territories Land and Mines Office.

In July last year, The Paper That Cares reported that Melor Travels had rejected several alternative sites identified by the FT land and mine office. Then Land Office deputy director Yahaya Mohamad informed City Hall to take over the case but Ahmad Fuad insisted taht the issue was a land matter which should be dealt with by the former.

The mayor had also said that the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry was given clear instructions after a post-Cabinet meeting last year for the Land Office to find a solution.

When The Malay Mail met the Land Office director Hasim Ismail some time ago, he also reiterated a couple of alternative plots of land were offered to Melor Travels but the latter was interested.

The new piece of land must be something logical which can be accepted by Melor Travels and the value of the alternative land must be of equal standing, Ahmad Fuad was then quoted as saying.

Joseph said he did not know why the delay in settling the matter. "City Hall must have the will and courage to rectify the problem.

"When Ahmad Fuad took office, we were happy saying 'here comes the saviour', and he stepped in and said the matter would be resolved.

"The mayor has a lot of courage and there has been a lot of changes which have taken place.

"Today, City Hall can be seen as a respectful organisation as there is a lot of check and balance, but we really hope they would solve this problem soon."

Joseph said if private residential homes could be acquired by the government to carry out road expansion works, he did not see why it could not be used to resolve the open issue.

"I am sure the Minister, Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin, is working with the mayor as a team and the ministry should have the political will as it has a lot of muscle."

By PEARL LEE on Malay Mail
Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 12:07:00