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24 Years & 10 Housing Ministers Later, HBA Continues to Champion Homebuyer's Rights

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The latest holder of Malaysian Minister of Local Government Development is YB Menteri Tuan Nga Kor Ming appointed on 3 December 2022. The minister is supported by his Deputy Minister of Local Government Development YB Timbalan Menteri Tuan Hj Akmal Nasrullah b Mohd Nasir The minister administers the portfolio through the Ministry of Local Government Development.

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Looking back at History

“Minister got ‘Tick Off’”– stated the front-page headline of a mainstream newspaper. It was the year 1999 and that marked the humble beginning of the National House Buyers Association (HBA).

At the time housing abandonment were aplenty and aggrieved buyers had problem getting their voices heard by the governing authority ie Ministry of Housing which was then headed by YB Datuk Dr Ting Chew Peh (now bestowed with the honorific: ‘Tan Sri’). The very people who confronted the Minister in the year 1999 are the one who initiated HBA.

HBA pro tem committee came into existence on 16.10.1999 comprising a group of aggrieved house buyers who had discovered to their disappointment that getting their woes heard was a frustrating process. The then housing industry was in shambles and businesses were conducted pro-developers’ ala style and fashion, and there was no single entity explicitly representing house buyers’ interest though there were NGOs namely the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA) and Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) assisting some aggrieved buyers of housing-related issues amongst other public interest issues that their respective organizations pursue.

HBA was duly registered on 26.7.2000 by the Registry of Societies and then formally launched as the House Buyers Association (Kuala Lumpur & Selangor) on 20.4.2001by YB Dato’ Seri Ong Ka Ting (now bestowed with the honorific: ‘Tan Sri’) the then Minister of Housing and Local Government and the form of acknowledgement was declared by the Minister and his related speech. The Organisation subsequently evolved into a national body with the name: National House Buyers Association (HBA).

READ: Welcome Abroad HBA, Consumer Rules!

Striving for House Buyers’ Rights & Interests

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HBA continues to be a voluntary non-governmental, not-for-profit, and non-political organization. Our working committee consists of volunteers from various professions. Our work revolves around sheer humanitarian principles and ethics, and we strive wholly for a balanced, fair and equitable treatment for house buyers in their dealings with housing developers.

Before the establishment of HBA, house buyers who have been disappointed by their developers could only lodge their complaints to the very people who had caused their problems! With the slogan “Striving for House Buyers’ Rights & Interests”, the HBA was determined to get the laws and legislations changed so that those buying new homes will get the same degree of consumer protection and redress accorded by the government to other new products of substantially less cost.

From the complaints we have received and from the media reports, the damage sustained by house buyers who have trusted their developers to deliver their products efficiently are too numerous. HBA aspires to see a level playing field between developers and house buyers and that the rights of house buyers are not short-changed. There were then more crooks that surpassed the number of responsible housing developers.

HBA continue to give constructive criticism on the fundamental requirements to ensure that new homes are built; timely and properly delivered; and that those buying them can have realistic confidence that they are buying well with a commensurate level of after-sales service.

READ MORE: Solution to home ownership woes

Rebel with a cause

For all the new laws and government tribunals set up to rein in our sometimes overzealous property industry, the only effective enforcement agency around, capable of righting wrongs and locking horns with errant bulls, is a group of professional volunteers called the National House Buyers Association. The HBA, which only insist troubled house buyers be “nice and humble” and also be “willing to help themselves” before offering assistance, was originally seen as rebel-rousers – thorns at the sides of developers; whingers whose complaints would not be constructive. That was then. A mere three years after its inception, the HBA is now seen as a property police squad of sorts – vigilantes comprising working professionals driven by a passion to do what is right. That the group has stuck around for so long when it could have disbanded, allowing its members to free up time to pursue their own lives instead of helping others, shows its level of dedication

Andrew Wong, NST Property Editor on 17 March 2003

READ MORE: HBA can play a positive role

HBA works with 10 different Ministers of Housing from different political parties

Now, looking back in history, HBA has in fact worked through the tenures of ten (10) Ministers of Housing & Local Government. There were pleasant ones to work with and not-so-pleasant ones to work against all these 23 years.

NamePolitical PartyTook OfficeLeft Office
Ting Chew PehBN (MCA)27 October 199014 December 1999
Ong Ka TingBN (MCA)15 December 199917 March 2008
Ong Ka ChuanBN (MCA)18 March 20089 April 2009
Kong Cho HaBN (MCA)10 April 20094 June 2010
Chor Chee HeungBN (MCA)7 June 20105 May 2013
Abdul Rahman DahlanBN (Umno)16 May 201327 June 2016
Noh OmarBN (UMNO)27 June 20169 May 2018
Zuraida KamaruddinPH (PKR)21 May 201824 February 2020
Zuraida KamaruddinPN (Bersatu)10 March 202016 August 2021
Reezal Merican Naina MericanBN (UMNO)30 August 202124 November 2022
Nga Kor MingPH (DAP)3 December 2022Incumbent
Source: Wikipedia/ Minister of Local Government (Malaysia)
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Down Memory Lane – Minister’s credit

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We must single out, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting as one of the best that we have worked alongside with. Even before the official inception of HBA as an organization, our volunteer lawyers were roped in to participate in the amendments to the housing laws, regulations, and the statutory sale & purchase agreements. That was in year 2000 and the positive outcome was that our voice, representing the buyers were heard and due recognition was recorded in the Parliament Hansard when he tabled the amendments to the legislation for the 2nd reading.

Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting too was instrumental to the tabling of the Building & Common Property (Maintenance & Management) Act 2007 (Act 663) that gives ‘Power back to the hands of the Owners’ in the year 2007. The previous Act instilled on the Developers the mindset and recognized the rights, benefits, and entitlement of the strata owners upon delivery of vacant possession. The Developer’s duty was to sell property whilst that of the owners was in forming communities. The said Act 663 has worked ‘with some teething problems’ for eight (8) years. There were a lot of uncertainties and ambiguities. But it has since outlived its usefulness and was repealed.

When Tan Sri Chor Chee Heung helm the Housing Ministry portfolio, he boldly took a notch higher in the succeeding years to table the current wholesome legislation named the Strata Management Bill, in Parliament on 19.12.2012.

Congratulations, to the past Ministers and his team at the Ministry of Housing & Local Government who have worked through unequalled weekends with the numerous stakeholders (including HBA’s volunteers) in the related industry: tweeted and tuned both the management and maintenance aspects in the Strata Titles Act, 1985 (Act 318) and the related Housing Development legislation. Hence, the birth of the Strata Management Act, 2013 (Act 757) (SMA). Equally important was his counterpart, Minister at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, YB Dato Sri Douglas Uggah Embas who also simultaneously tabled his law i.e. Strata Titles Act,1985 (amendment 2012) at the sitting in Parliament to make the SMA a reality.

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A whopping 536 EOTs approvals invoked

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The floodgate of ‘Extension of Time’ (EOTs) began from the year 2014 onwards. Prior to 2014, granting an EOT was almost unheard of. There has been a total of 536 EOTs approvals from 2014 to mid-2019 granted by the Controller of Housing under HD Reg 11(3) and HD Reg 12 by the housing minister since the year 2014, according to the Parliament Hansard.

Below is the numbers EOTs approved and invoked from 2014 to July 2019:

Year20142015201620172018Jul-2019Total
Applications10115412513711961697
Approved cases86118100939346536
Rejected cases153625442615161
Source: HBA compilation from Parliament report

The National House Buyers Association (HBA) took Dato Sri Abdul Rahman Dahlan, to task for giving a housing developer more time (extended 12 months) to complete a project during his previous tenure as urban wellbeing, housing and local government minister in the landmark case of Ang Ming Lee & Ors v Menteri Kesejahteraan Bandar, Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan & others (2020) CLJ 162 whereupon the Federal Court on 26.11.2019 ruled that the EOT was invalid. The HBA legal team working on a pro bono basis represented the 103 aggrieved buyers from the High Court to the Court of Appeal and finality at the Federal Court.

The figure is mind-boggling. How could they have issued the EOTs to developers to save them from having to pay late delivery compensation to the detriment of house buyers? Has our country now reached a state of economic crisis that the minister must dish out EOTs to developers who are already in distress and threatened to abandon their projects? If left unchecked, the power may be abused and susceptible to corrupt practices. The buyers will ultimately be at the mercy of housing developers especially those who walk the corridors of power.

The gross injustice should be checked under the new housing minister’s watch. Any decision which deprives the house buyers of their rights and entitlement should be exercised transparently, strictly and with open communication. At the very least the views of the buyers, directly affected, must be considered prior to the Minister deciding – the Right to be Heard is of utmost importance. Do they not know that buyers too face hardship and commitments, having to pay rent whilst continuing to service their bank housing loan? They too bear the burden of additional cost and expenses for the delay as well as their future derailed. One cannot continue to unilaterally hear the views of the housing developer and shun the buyers.

Read: What actually happened during the Federal Court ruling on restricting EOT for developers in Malaysia?

Also Read: EOTs expunged: Kudos to HBA

Remaining steadfast

HBA continues to stand for the truth and be the source of accurate information and advice for our fellow ‘Rakyat’ who were and still are being subjected to inaccurate information and sometimes misinformation.

HBA remains a voluntary, non-profit, non-political organisation manned by volunteers-members of various professions. The Organisation operates purely on volunteer workers’ benevolence who have unselfishly given their time to strive for the interest and benefits of house buyers with our adage: OUR FREE SERVICE FOR NICE PEOPLE ONLY’.

*This article is written by Datuk Chang Kim Loong, Hon. Sec-Gen of the National House Buyers Association (HBA). HBA can be contacted at email: [email protected] Tel: 012 3345676

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