Hajiji: 30% low-cost quota requirement good for majority Sabahans,

KOTA KINABALU (Nov 30): The proposed requirement for housing developers in Sabah to build 30 per cent low-cost houses in their new housing projects is for the benefit of majority Sabahans, State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor said on Wednesday.

"As a responsible and caring government, we are duty-bound to listen to the majority's interests," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

He was replying to Sabah Housing and Real Estate Developers' Association president Datuk Susan Wong who said on Tuesday that the association strongly objected to the proposal.

She said that if the proposal was implemented, it would add to development costs and would lead to price increases of medium-cost and high-end houses.

Announcing the proposal at the state assembly recently, Hajiji said the requirement was to enable low-income earners to own houses in urban areas.

"This is the voice of the people, what the people want to see, as reflected in the suggestion made by a state assemblyman. I was merely responding to the people's wish," he said.

On Wong's contention that the move would increase development costs, Hajiji said that it was time for housing developers play a greater role in fulfilling their corporate social responsibility rather than just profit-making.

"They should give something back to society. Where there is a will, there is a way. The Wah Mie Group has proven that it can be done when they incorporated low-cost houses in their housing project in Sepanggar.

"The government appreciates their move," he said, describing Wah Mie as a good corporate citizen.

Wong had also said the state-owned Sabah Housing and Town Development Authority should focus on building low-cost houses.

To this, the state minister said the authority was still building low-cost houses which were heavily subsidised by the government.

"Due to the influx of rural folk to major towns, low-cost houses built by the government are never enough. We need the private sector's cooperation," he said.

Responding to Federal Deputy Minister of Housing and Local Government Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin's remarks that the Sabah Government should not rush into implementing the proposal, Hajiji said he found it puzzling as the policy was nothing new and was successfully implemented at national level.

"As the deputy minister in-charge of housing, I think he knows the background of the policy," he added. — Bernama

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