By Andrew Wong
A sure sign of
a progressing nation is the ability of its people to comment upon and yes,
even criticise their environment. Their dialogue, as long as it's constructive,
should be applauded, while any silence should be deemed not as the sound
of fear but as quiet nods of agreement.
Of course, such voicing can only work when things aren't
swept under the carpet any more, and an agenda of baring all, has begun.
It also requires a large dose of responsibility and a high degree of inventiveness.
For to bitch for the sake of doing so, without accompanying a problem with
a suggested solution would merely be to incite frustration, and with that,
visions of a future colored only in bleakness and disappointment.
To overcome this requires people of sophistication, advanced
in thinking and with the aptitude to offer doable propositions. It also
requires recipients willing to listen, for to have cleverness fall on deaf
ears would be to plod back to square one - to provoke frustration. So more
than just being able to tender notions of perfection, the mark of a truly
advancing nation is one where those in the position to make changes actually
want to do something about it.
So it has come to pass that over the years, property
buyers and owners have become more vocal with what is not right in their
corner of the world. The result of their persistent calls for improvement
coupled with the fact that the market has now swung in their favour unlike
during the 'glorious' boom era, have catalysed many changes. These includes
the formation of in-house quality control systems and after-sales consumer
care services by several responsible developers, as well as amendments to
the Housing Developers Act by the government which will be gazetted in a
One of the loudest calls for change comes from a collective
known as the House Buyers Association, or HBA. Even in its abbreviation,
this body has made its intention known: in contrast to the HDA, the former
abridgement for the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association, the
HBA is clearly designed to voice the ailments that exist in the development
In its view, what it sees is a non-level playing field:
one one side, smirking developers with wads of cash; on the other distressed
housebuyers whose dreams have either been abandoned or marred by problems.
It picked up the gauntlet to champion the underdogs in
1999. Made up of volunteers, many of them professionals who had at one point
or other been bitten by the errant developer bug, they have sacrificed their
personal time to meet with affected buyers, and then highlighted these problems
to the Housing Ministry and the public via radio talk shows, in the hope
it would pave the way to solutions.
Of note-worthy commendation is the fact that the HBA
has lasted this long without any grant or sponsorship. Its survival has
been strictly on a diet of monthly contributions from its volunteer members.
In its short history, it has managed to achieve things
which once had seemed insurmountable, such as highlighting to the Ministry
a case where a group of owners had not been able to obtain Certificates
of Fitness for their properties despite their units having been handed over
with vacant possession some five years earlier. With the HBA's involvement,
this issue has now been resolved.
You would have to call it a genuine care for humankind
that makes these HBA volunteers want to give up free time, spend their own
money and expend energy on resolving issues that won't directly benefit
them. And you have to appreciate it as another mark showing the advancement
of the country.
Starting this week, the HBA will be writing a regular
column in PropertyTimes, addressing issues and suggesting solutions
that could pave the way to a more efficient and qualitative housing industry.
With all eyes focusing on this pullout, such a goal will be an eventuality.
Welcome aboard, HBA.