Gerakan wants review of low-cost housing mechanism

PETALING JAYA: The government needs to have a review and overhaul of the low-cost housing distribution mechanism to prevent a recurrence of the low-cost housing scandal in Selangor, said Gerakan vice-president A Kohilan Pillay.

He said state governments and local authorities should treat the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) episode "as a lesson" and look into tightening the loopholes in the by-laws, regulations or guidelines.

"We should prevent irresponsible people from taking advantage to make money as low-cost flats are meant for the poor. To allow low-cost flats to be given to people other than the poor for unjust enrichment is totally unacceptable," said Kohilan in a statement on Tuesday, May 25.

"Low-cost flats are for the poor and not for people to gain benefits," the deputy foreign minister stressed.

He said social justice dictates that all parties involved in the construction of low-cost flats, including the state governments, local councils and housing developers, should see to it that the houses built were allocated to the poor. Kohilan said he was glad to know that several senior officers who bought low-cost apartments in Selangor despite not being qualified to own one had offered to return the units to the state government.

"They are morally, though not legally, obliged to return the units to the state government. Gerakan is of the view that the wrong should be righted in the name of social justice," he added. The Sun newspaper revealed last week that up to 500 MBPJ employees may have owned low-cost housing in Petaling Jaya meant for the lower-income group.

Quoting MBPJ councillor K W Mak, the report said that the councillor had asked Selangor's Select Committee for Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) to investigate the matter.

Mak had also written to Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman in April to investigate the allegations.

MBPJ has since refuted the allegations, saying that it abides by the Housing and Property Board of Selangor guidelines restricting its staff from purchasing low-cost units meant for resettlement of squatters.

"Council staff are not allowed to buy low-cost flats meant for squatters," the council stated in a letter to the press last Friday.
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