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Rehda will seek judicial review

PETALING JAYA, 13 Nov 2008: The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia will seek judicial review of bumiputera housing quotas if state governments continue to impose new rulings on developers.

Rehda president Datuk Ng Seing Liong said this would be the last resort if the issue could not be resolved with the respective state governments.

Datuk Ng Seing Liong
Ng says Article 153 does not explicitly cover housing
quotas for bumiputeras.

Ng said a housing policy that allocated a certain percentage of property units to bumiputeras alone was not listed anywhere in the Federal Constitution as part of bumiputera privileges.

“In Article 153, housing is excluded in all the privileges meant for bumiputeras but today, we realised that all the state governments have (a bumiputera housing) policy,” he told The Nut Graph.

Ng said Article 153 only covered employment in public service, education, training or special facilities by the federal government, and business permits.

He said although housing was implicitly excluded, it could arguably fall under the category of business permits.

Ng also noted that a bumiputera housing policy was first implemented following the introduction of the New Economic Policy in the 1970s, but it was never a gazetted policy.

He said different states also had different variations to the bumiputera housing quota. “Rehda, as a responsible body, does not want to challenge what the government is doing but the national policy must be streamlined,” he said.

Property developers have been up in arms in Kedah after the PAS-led state government increased the bumiputera housing quota from 30% to 50% in September 2008 for all new projects.

Ricque Liew, Rehda’s Kedah chairperson, said in an earlier report that he planned to meet Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak to discuss the matter.

The sole DAP representative in the Kedah government, Lee Guan Aik, has also threatened to leave the Pakatan Rakyat state government unless Azizan withdraws the policy.

Other DAP leaders from outside Kedah have also criticised the policy. However, Azizan has told his Pakatan Rakyat colleagues to “mind their own business”, adding that the state would soon issue a white paper on the housing policy.

Ng said Rehda would be open to a housing policy where developers could give a maximum discount of 5% for houses priced below RM250,000 to bumiputeras to help the poor purchase their own homes.

But, he said, there must also be an automatic release mechanism, where the houses could be sold in the open market if they are not taken up by bumiputeras after a certain time frame.

“We are not against the bumiputera quota per se but the system that the state governments impose on us,” he added.

When contacted, Azizan said all he wanted to do was to make sure that everybody could afford a house.

He said most houses were currently priced between RM200,000 and RM400,000, making them unaffordable.

“I want houses to be priced between RM100,000 and RM120,000 and I don’t care if developers move out. All they care about is generating profits,” he said in a phone interview.

Azizan, however, said the state would work on a mechanism soon to allow developers to sell unsold bumiputera units.

He said the state currently has 1.5 million bumiputeras, 240,000 Chinese and about 130,000 Indians while the rest are Malaysians of Thai descent and other ethnic groups.

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