Victim of abandoned housing project
Published: Fri, 12 Apr 2013
The recent announcement with regards to the overwhelming success of the ETP (Economic Transformation Programme) and the GTP 1.0 (Government Transformation Programme) initiatives by the government in raising the standard and quality of life of the Rakyat in an attempt to move our nation to developed status by 2020 may have been well received supposedly by several quarters. To what extent this is true is yet another episode and only reality of the situation can reveal the truth. In the midst of the joy and cheers of the announcement there are indeed deprived lots amongst the Rakyat who do not welcome the news with gladness, their dreams and that of their families being shattered having fallen victims of housing projects that have been abandoned for years and basically nothing has been done to alleviate them from their related predicament.
I call this group of the Rakyat deprived because they are not in any position to rejoice the wealth of the nations’ achievements having been robbed of their dreams by some unscrupulous and irresponsible developers who failed in their trustworthy social duties towards their purchasers of their properties, who are now made victims of circumstances. These victims, who are bound by various legalities, have to bear the burden of the developers’ failures and to add salt to raw wound they (developers) are scot free carrying out their businesses as though nothing has happened, all because I believe, they are well secured and protected by laws that seem to be silent in their favour. Interestingly, it is only beginning 2015 that a total of 1261 housing developers blacklisted by the Housing and Local Government Ministry will not be allowed to participate in any housing development projects as announced by its minister recently (Malay Mail – 27th March 2013). Until such time it appears that blacklisted developers may continue their activities to create more innocent victims and constraint their quality of life.
At this juncture, it is only appropriate that being a victim of the famed abandoned project of fourteen years, Lembah Beringin, which was once widely advertised in the early morning breakfast shows alongside with Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, highlight the pain and distress my family and I are bearing through the years being deprived of our own advancement caused due to the related economic and psychology constraints. With the project left abandoned with no signs of rehabilitation, the massive deterioration of the built-up structures of our dream home upon which we have invested all our life’s savings and along with the hassles we are going through till to-date is truly unbearable especially for me having retired. Only experience can tell what one really goes through in situations like ours and we are not alone in this.
Lembah Beringin, a self-sufficient township of 6,800 acres, was developed by a highly reputable public listed company in joint venture with another reputable company under their subsidiary company, Lembah Beringin Sdn Bhd (liquidated in 2006). We were drawn to the project by the reputation of the two parent companies and not so much by the subsidiary company. Faced with financial burden, Lembah Beringin Sdn Bhd abandoned the project in 1999 and on 11th November 2005 one of their end-financiers appointed a Receivers & Managers to manage the property. Subsequently, on 17th March 2006 the company was wound-up by another of their end-financiers leaving us in a worst state of life since then.
With the winding up of the subsidiary company, the parent companies’ chapter was closed but opened up a life of stressful struggle for us. We are committed to continue servicing and paying up of our housing loans while sheltering in rented homes at the mercy of our landlords. Moving from house to house has become norm for us in these times of economic advancement. Our end-financiers are firm in their dealings with us and we have to bear their brunt for any default. We do not enjoy any form of merciful treatment though words of sympathy are issued whenever we raise our predicament. The parent companies, on the other hand, are least bothered about our welfare, and with the winding-up of their subsidiary company, they are further eased of their burden of dealing with whatever is due to us, one of which being the settlement of ‘Liquidated and Ascertained Damages’.
With an estimate of 60 - 70% of the Lembah Beringin “township” still uninhabited till to-date, although 86% of the total of 2346 units launched were sold before abandonment, it is clear that the impact of the problem is a serious one that warrants national attention. It could be affecting some 1400 families with various constraints and with an average of four people in each family it is almost 5600 people being affected. We could imagine the financial loss to society, spent on rental by each of the affected families over a period of about 168 months (from 1999 till to-date) at an average of RM 1000.00 per month in addition to the interest charges on their bank loans. A simple calculation will indicate the huge financial losses incurred by this one project on society.
All this, though not of our doing or failure, have changed the course of our lives. This is truly a breach of our human rights. The sad episode of life is when innocent victims of failed housing projects are declared bankrupt for default of their loans. Bankruptcy of this nature affects the whole family especially the children, crippling their advancement. It was reported (Sunday Star – 9th December 2012) that there are 243,823 people declared bankrupt in our beloved country between 2005 and June 2012. Surely a significant percentage of those declared bankrupt are victims of abandoned housing projects. This is truly sad, creating bankrupts in an environment of national economic progress.
As a devastated victim and also on behalf of all other victims of failed housing projects, I plead for sincere ears with a heart for us to hear us and help alleviate us from our predicament so that we are not left behind in the country’s economic advancement. We too want to rejoice with others by 2015 when GTP 2.0 ends, perhaps, with the reversal of our economic losses accumulated over the years. As above all, as ordinary citizens we wonder why the government need to wait till 2015 to enforce a new law to stop the irresponsible developers from participating in housing development? All I could think of is that the government has failed to see the true sufferings of the Rakyat. Furthermore, a veil is placed in between the parent and their subsidiary companies so that the parent companies are protected legally when subsidiary companies go bust. Surprisingly, the authorities are unable to lift the veil for the sake of the affected Rakyat. We want the policy makers to know that we too want to be included in the country’s progress. Will the new call for change in our country’s systems and policies bring hope to all of us who have been deprived by the kings of cunning businesses and restore our rights? Being ambitious at the expense of the innocent customers may not last long; the outcome in no time can be disastrous just like the Lehman Brothers that crashed after 158 years in business. We beg the leaders of this nation not to side-line us in favour of the profit-oriented organizations and individuals.