Housing tribunal: Parliament should amend the legislation to provide retrospective powers

Press Statement
by Kerk Kim Hock

(Melaka, Friday): Yesterday’s High Court ‘s ruling that the Housing Tribunal had no jurisdiction to adjudicate cases in which the sale and purchase agreements were entered into before Dec 1 last year was a blow to the house buyers who had sought to seek redress thorough the Tribunal. 

The decision, however, did not come as a surprise to me as I had said last year that the laws did not allow retrospective powers for the Tribunal. .


On 13.12.2002, I had, through a public statement, said:


“ 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 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 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 has  taken such a long 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 and his ministry’s efficiency.


As the amendments do not specify that the Tribunal has  the retrospective effect, 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.”


It was thus evident that in presenting the amendments to the Parliament in late 2001, the Housing Minister never had the intention of providing the Tribunal with retrospective powers, otherwise, he would have clearly and immediately replied that the Tribunal had such powers when approached by the members of the House buyers Association.


I had also publicly asked  Ong Ka Ting to answer two questions, which were as follows:


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

The High Court’s ruling has now left Ong with no choice but to immediately present an amendment in the current sittings of the Parliament so as to allow the Tribunal the required retrospective powers to hear all backdated cases.



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