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Media Statement by Lau Wen San in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 22nd May 2010:

Low cost house fiasco: Publishing names of owners is the first step towards clearing the mess of the past

The Selangor State Government has responded to the ownership of low cost houses by 500 unqualified Petaling Jaya City Council staffs that unqualified owners of low cost houses should return the unit to the state government.

It is high time that the state government should do something to rectify as much as possible mistakes of the previous government in allocating low cost houses in the state, particularly in highly developed cities like Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam and Ampang Jaya.

In fact, right after March 8th 2008, I have suggested to the state government to carry out a thorough audit in identifying the flaws in allocating low cost houses to the poor. Action plan suggested included conducting a house-to-house survey (banci) to identify whether the owners of the low cost houses are staying in the unit themselves or merely renting the unit to outsiders, especially foreign labours for extra incomes. Worst still, the survey is also to find out whether the units were sold by rent-seekers to other party at a higher price.

I have always stressed numerously that low cost houses are not commercial products but controlled items. Therefore, the sales of low cost houses, must be strictyly regulated by the state and not subject to market force.

In the case of unqualified council staffs owning low cost houses, I urge that the focus should not be placed on council staffs only but on a larger scope on ¡°unqualified buyers¡± as I believe not only there are unqualified council staffs, but also politically connected individuals who such the units.

Thus, I welcome the suggestion from state EXCO on Housing, Building Management and Squarters, Iskandar Abdul Samad that the state will consider publishing a name list of those who own low houses for public scrutiny as this is the first step towards rectifying the mistakes and correct the ¡°inherited sins¡± from the previous administration.

There are also many flaws in the previous ¡°zero-squarters¡± programme and actions must be taken to correct these flaws step-by-step. In the past, a unit of low cost house is to be allocated for each registered squarter, meaning that the first criterion to qualify for a unit of low cost house is that the buyer must be a squarter first.

Unfortunately, this has neglected the rights of other low-income earners who eargerly want a unit of their low cost houses. Many times they have to rent houses or rooms from others and have to buy low cost houses from open market and pay huge amount of under table money.

Secondly, since low cost houses are mainly offered to first and second families of the squarters, some of them already have big houses outside. Allocating a unit of low cost house to them means giving them an extra income, is this fair? The state must have strict regulations on low cost houses whether these houses are built by the government or private developer, that these houses are to be meant for own stay and should not be sold or rented to third party.

* Lau Weng San, SA for Kampung Tunku



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