Housing Tribunal: Shocking that the Housing Minister is still not certain about the powers of the Housing Tribunal

Press Statement
Kerk Kim Hock

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday):  In response to an appeal from the House buyers Association that the Housing Tribunal be allowed to hear complaints dating back to almost two and a half years to allow more house buyers to have their problems heard, Housing Minister Dato Ong Ka Ting said that his Ministry would seek the advice of the Attorney General's Chambers on whether the Tribunal could have such powers.

The Housing Developers (Control and Licensing)(Amendment) Act 2001 was presented, with short notice , for Parliamentary debate more than a year ago.

Although the proposed amendments were presented with such unnecessary haste, the Ministry took about one year to finally make the amendments effective on 1.12.2002.

It is therefore shocking that after his Ministry tock such along time to make the amendments effective and that the Chairman of the Tribunal has been appointed, Dato Ong Ka Ting now claims that he is not sure about the powers of the Tribunal.

This certainly does not reflect well of Ka Ting's and his Ministry's efficiency.

As the amendments do not specify that the Tribunal has the retrospective power, I therefore do not share Ong 's optimism that the Tribunal could hear backdated cases. Nevertheless., I will wait for Ong to announce the clarification and interpretations by the Attorney General.

However, Dato Ong Ka Ting should be prepared to publicly answer the following three questions:

1.. If it is true that it has always been the intention of the Housing Ministry to allow the Tribunal to hear all past cases, that is, cases of sale and purchase agreements signed before 1.12.2002, why did he not provide for such retrospective powers clause in the amendments presented to Parliament last year?

2.. In the event that the Attorney General concludes that the Tribunal does not have the retrospective powers, is he prepared to do the necessary amendments in the Parliament meeting which will be held in March next year?

3.. As the DAP has argued that the present Act still contains weaknesses and loopholes, is he prepared to make more amendments so as to ensure that the house buyers can be better protected?

I wish, in particular, refer to one provision which the DAP MPs had questioned while taking part in the Parliamentary debate last year but which the Housing Minister failed to provide a satisfactory reply.

The new section 8 A provided that a licensed housing developer may apply to the minister for approval to terminate all the sale and purchase agreements entered into in respect of a housing development or any phase of a housing development which the housing developer is engaged in, carries on or undertakes or causes to be undertaken if-

1.. six months after the execution of the sale and purchase agreements, development of the housing accommodation in that housing development or phase has not commenced: and.

2.. at least seventy -five percent of all the purchasers who have entered into the sale and purchase agreements have agreed with the housing developer in writing to terminate the sale and purchase agreements.

The question, which Ong should answer, is that why the house buyers are not given the similar right to apply to the Housing Minister to have the sale and purchase agreements terminated? Why must this right be confined to the developer only?


* Kerk Kim Hock, DAP Secretary General and MP for Kota Melaka