Time for an Ombudsman
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Time for an Ombudsman
Posted Date: Jun 01, 2008

Time for an Ombudsman

The proposed ombudsman would help address grievances concerning public authorities

We must acknowledge the fact that not many nations have had the good fortune to emerge unscathed from the shackles of colonialism to attain the degree of success Malaysia has.

We should pause for a moment to remember those lives in shambles, as a result of our drive to create a nation of homeowners. These are the unfortunate house buyers whose dreams of ownership have been destroyed by the greedy and deceitful.

Lack of enforcement of related laws can be attributed to the pain and suffering of naïve and innocent house buyers.

Despite the supposed protection embodied in legislation – for example the Housing Development (Control & Licensing) Act, 1966 (revamped in April 2007) within the current ‘sell than build’ or progressive payment delivery system, hundreds of thousands of house buyers are still grappling with problems.

These include shoddy workmanship, late deliveries, delays in the issuance of occupation certificates, deviation from approved building plans, and non-issuance of title deeds.

However, these setbacks pale in comparison to the devastating effects of abandoned projects.

Little has been done to research buyers who have had to bear with buying a less-than-perfect new home. Buyers of property in abandoned projects are usually laden with bank loan repayments even as they fork out for rented property.

Not only have their plans to have their own homes been derailed, in many cases the future remains bleak for them due to rising interest rates on the loans they have taken.

This is not only unfair, but downright unacceptable. Much remains to be done in our effort to put our house in order, and in so far as the public administration aspect of the housing delivery process is concerned, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has at least taken the initiative to issue a wake-up call to civil servants. He has boldly put in place what many have only been preaching all this while.

His now-famous words are, “Walk the talk.”

“We must work together. This is what I meant when I said, ‘Work with me, not for me.’ We are accountable to each other and to the people. We hold the people’s trust; we must, therefore, be trusted.”

Badawi has outlined five initiatives to create an efficient work culture among civil servants. He has said the current negative public perception of the civil service could be overcome if civil servants:

  • Initiate a positive change in mentality and attitude in striving for excellence;
  • Uphold high moral ethics;
  • Enhance human resource development to create a knowledgeable and skilled manpower;
  • Promote a performance-based work culture, and
  • Adopt good leadership principles.

The National House Buyers Association (HBA) hopes these initiatives will – and perhaps have to some extent – become a reality. And with the public's support, the Prime Minister will be successful in his endeavours. The question remains if they have in fact improved and to what extent. You be the judge.

In so far as the housing industry is concerned, we hope an independent ombudsman or arbiter could be established as a friend and protector of the house buying public.

The organisation could be entrusted to address grievances concerning public authorities. It could also be tasked to look into how the entire housing delivery system could be overhauled, what the acceptable standards in construction should be, how joint management bodies could be formed, determine the timely application and issuance of strata titles, and enforce the necessary laws.

HBA urges the government to work towards making the ‘build-then-sell’ 10:90 ratio concept a reality, since the Housing Development (Control & Licensing) Regulations, which includes this concept, has been made law since December 1st 2007.

A quote by Mahatma Gandhi emphasises the need to do what we can now”
"You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, maybe not in your time, that there will be any fruits. But that does not mean you stop doing that right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

The National House Buyers Association (HBA) is a voluntary, non-governmental organization manned by unpaid volunteers. For more information, check out their website at http://www.hba.org.my
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