No immediate cheer for Kedah’s deferment of 50% Bumi housing quota

KUALA LUMPUR:The Kedah state government’s deferred implementation of the higher 50% Bumiputera quota for new housing projects has failed to bring immediate cheer to those opposing it.

This is because of a fear that the state would also stop the policy of Malay Reserve land swapping – a current practice that enables developers to develop Malay Reserve land and to sell up to 70% of the units built on it to non-Bumiputeras. The Bumiputera quota was, from September this year, to have been increased to 50%.

Under the land swapping system, developers will have to acquire a bigger tract (5% more than the Malay Reserve land to be developed) of non Malay Reserve land in any part of the state - and this will then be classified as Malay Reserve in return for the land they are developing.

A spokesperson of the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (REHDA) Kedah/Perlis branch contacted by said there were already indications that the state government would also suspend the land swapping policy pending further review.

A local developer who asked not to be named said there was a need for a clear housing policy. He said the introduction of more stringent development rules or a freeze on Malay Reserve land swapping would slow development which will in turn drive up property prices in the capital town of Alor Star where over 90% of the land are Malay Reserve land.

He said the rationale for the land swapping policy was to safeguard the size of Malay Reserve land while at the same time bring development to Alor Star. “By swapping the land to be developed with another bigger-sized plot to be classified Malay Reserve, there is no danger that Malay Reserve land bank will shrink,” the developer added.

Meanwhile, Kedah Gerakan Youth Chief Tan Keng Leng welcomed the deferment of the 50% Bumiputera quota, adding that the quota would hamper the growth of the housing industry in Kedah.

To avoid any confusion, he hoped the state government would clarify and give an assurance that there would be no freezing of the Malay Reserve land swap, particularly in Alor Star. Such a freeze, Tan added, would only “cause more damage than solving the stagnant housing market in Kedah.”

Tan too said the swapping process would grow instead of reduce the size of Malay Reserve land.

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