Hidden cost of affordable home ownership in Penang

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Photograph: Choo Choy May/Malay Mail

The Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress finds it completely unacceptable that the Penang state government has abdicated its moral responsibility in ensuring that developers of low-cost and affordable homes do not exploit the low and middle-income wage earners by allowing such developers to coerce them to pay for add-ons.

On this score, we wish to salute the Consumers’ Association Of Penang (CAP) for exposing the state of affairs.

Going by home-buyers’ testimonies – that they were made to fork out between RM120,000 and RM180,000 for their low-cost homes on account of the developers’ add-ons, it is nothing but daylight robbery – regardless of whether it was for a purchase of a parking lot or tilling work. In any case, the situation seems to indicate that the home-buyers were left with no option to say that they do not need such add-ons.

As the testimony of a RM42,000 home-buyer stands, she was made to withdraw her entire savings to meet an additional payment of almost RM70,000 for a parking lot and a renovation package.

This, as we understand it, is explained by the Penang state government as an arrangement between the house buyer and the developer – a position that would seem acceptable except for the question of where the government’s moral compass is on ensuring the low and middle-income wage earners’ protection of home ownership within the parameters set by them!

If a cost of a low-cost home is RM42,000 or RM72,000, then it ought to be that – and no developer should be permitted to impose any add-ons. And, in our view, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of the state.

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We, therefore, call upon the Penang state government to take a comprehensive review of the state of affairs with the objective of ensuring that home buyers are protected from unscrupulous developers. On this score, we would implore the Penang state government to heed CAP’s views on the matter.

K Veeriah is secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress.

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