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House buyers' 18-year torment
24/05/2005 The Sun

IPOH: After paying a total of RM2 million and waiting 18 years, some 150-odd house buyers have given up on their low-cost housing scheme in Slim River and are appealing to the Perak government to provide them alternative land or new homes.

Their spokesman B. Subramaniam said the 156 buyers, many of them plantation workers and government servants; were willing to take up any offer of land. After 18 years, many of us just don't know what else to do. Even the action committee formed by the buyers is lost.

Many promises and offers were made by the authorities but nothing concrete has taken place," he told reporters yesterday. He said the buyers were getting frustrated as they were growing old and about 20 of them had died without seeing any compensation.

Subramaniam said the state government in 2001 offered them a 10% discount on a new housing scheme near Proton City in Tanjong Malim but no official letter was offered despite many enquiries. A year before that, compensation in the form of a piece of land or RM3; 500 in down payment for low-cost houses was offered to each of the buyers but was rejected by them (or various reasons).

The buyers paid the RM2 million in 1987 to the developer for the units, which were priced between RM25,000 and RM31, 000 each, but the project was abandoned a year later. It was partially auctioned off in 1993 without the knowledge of the buyers and the Housing and Local Government Ministry, which was then making efforts to revive the project under the Bank Negara Special Fund scheme.

Twenty-three lots involving buyers who had obtained government-housing loans were left untouched. The new developer then built houses costing more than RM60, 000 at the site and sold them to new buyers.

Years later, the matter was referred to the Attorney- General's Chambers after it was raised at a cabinet meeting in 1999. The federal government then asked the Perak government to find a solution to the problem faced by the buyers.

Subramaniam said many of the original buyers had made use of their Employees Provident Fund savings to pay for the deposits for the houses. As for the civil servants, he said, salary deductions of RMl69.76 months have been made until today as loan repayments although the housing scheme was abandoned.

He said the action committee had spent a lot of money pursuing the case for the buyers, in terms of traveling, getting documents, hiring lawyers and other expenses, but was finding it hard to maintain its quest for justice. "If the state can identify a piece of land or give discounts for new projects,  we will be grateful," he said.


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