Sarawak DAP has called on the State Government to ensure the federally funded affordable housing programme, 1Malaysia People’s Housing (PR1MA), does not supplant the state’s authority over land matters or allow it to become a vehicle of corruption.
Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong said land matters came under the State Government’s purview under the Constitution and the ruling BN must ensure the process to determine the sale value of properties was not misused.
“They have to make sure these affordable houses are not abused by some irresponsible quarters for quick gain.
“When it comes to consent for property transfers or dealings, our state must hold firm to our rights and should not give them up to the Federal Government through PR1MA,” Yong told reporters in Kuching.
Yong, who is state DAP treasurer, said consent for all land matters should come from the Sarawak Government, or through the state’s Land and Survey Department.
“Our state rights have been eroded and whittled down over the past 53 years and we cannot afford to lose more of it.
“I am not against PR1MA in building affordable housing.
“But what I would like to caution our State Government is to hold firm to our state rights when it comes to dealing with land matters in terms of the consent.
“I think it’s important for (Chief Minister) Adenan Satem to be careful in this aspect.
“Should we need to put our foot down, then we should just put our foot down.”
Sarawak has its own affordable housing programme, under the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), which has been in operation since 1972. It primarily targets middle to lower-income buyers.
Recently, PR1MA launched 13 projects with a total of 16,787 houses throughout Sarawak, with the selling price capped at RM400,000 per unit.
PR1MA authorities claim their houses are sold at 20 per cent below market value, in addition to being subsidised by the Federal Government.
The Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) protested against the move, calling on the government to accord the same treatment PR1MA developers were getting to all developers.
Sheda said Sarawak developers could build PR1MA-approved houses with the selling price capped at RM300,000 per unit – RM100,000 less than that of PR1MA developers – if they were given the same planning criteria and exemptions.
Yong said the State Government should seek to “rejuvenate” the HDC programme. In the state’s 2016 budget, the Federal Government allocated RM1.6 billion for PR1MA programmes.
“HDC just does not have that sort of funding. Also their land banks are getting smaller, which means they do not have much land left to build houses.
“What the State Government can do is re-look at HDC’s role and try to get the Federal Government to fund the state agency instead.
Yong said if the state was not careful, PR1MA might overtake HDC one day, making it irrelevant.
Prior to PR1MA’s creation in 2012, all land purchase transactions had to be obtained with the sole consent of the State Government, via the state’s Land and Survey Department or HDC, which would determine whether buyers were qualified for the state’s affordable housing programme.
Currently, the selection process for applications for the PR1MA programme is handled by the Federal Government, with HDC and the state’s planning authority providing minimal oversight.
“Anything regarding land rights in Sarawak should be considered a state matter. Our state has the power to decide on these matters or come up with policies regarding state land,” Yong said.
“What I am worried about is that if our State Government is not careful, PR1MA will be one of the vehicles used to erode our state’s land rights.”
@FMT Reporters Online