By YONG TECK LEE
OPINION: The Sabah Minister of Local Government and Housing and the Federal Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government have a lot to answer on why they had chosen to over-ride the rights and interests of purchasers under housing development laws and Sales and Purchase Agreements by granting extension of time for completion without compensation.
It has been reported that one case involved a development (Sri Istana) in Kuala Lumpur, approved by the then federal Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government. The case in Sabah is reportedly the Light Residences in Penampang, the illegal extension of time of which was approved by the Sabah Minister of Local Government and Housing.
The Sabah Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Enactment 1978 and various regulations are put in place to protect purchasers. It is beyond the powers of ministers to override the protection granted under the law and the Sale and Purchase agreements.
GOVERNMENT LAWYERS SHOULD GO BACK TO LAW SCHOOL
The Light Residences development is not the only such case in Sabah.
On another case, I had written to both the Sabah Minister of Housing and the Attorney General last year to enquire under what power that the Minister could grant such an approval of time, about purchasers’ rights being jeopardised and whether the ministry will take responsibility for the late delivery of the houses.
Citing “client confidentiality”, the Attorney General refused to answer.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary belatedly, but erroneously, replied that the Minister had such power under the Section 18(b) Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Enactment 1978. In fact, the intent and spirit of the enactment is there to protect consumers from the failures of developers, not the other way round.
In the light of two court judgements quashing the Housing Minister’s “approval” to grant developers an extension of time to complete a housing project beyond that provided for in the Sales and Purchase Agreement, the lawyers concerned at the Ministry and Attorney Chambers should go back to law school.
- Datuk Yong Teck Lee is former chief minister of Sabah and president of SAPP
CASE BACK GROUND – LIGHT RESIDENCES CONDOMINIUMS
The High Court in Kota Kinabalu recently made a landmark ruling favouring a group of condominium buyers when it quashed a decision by state Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor to grant a developer more time to complete a project.
Justice Ravinthran Paramaguru held that Hajiji’s decision to approve an extension of time to RA Concept Development Sdn Bhd, the developer of Light Residences condominiums in Penampang here, contravened the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Regulations 2008.
He also awarded costs of RM15,000 each to the 30 condominium buyers who filed a judicial review of the state minister’s decision at the hearing.
The condominium project was supposed to have been completed in December 2015. Hajiji granted the 180-day extension to RA Concept on Feb 1, 2016.
The condominium buyers who only received their property in June 2016 then filed a judicial review of Hajiji’s extension of time approval in September that same year, naming Hajiji, RA Concept and the state Attorney-General as the first, second and third respondents respectively.
Ravinthran ordered Hajiji to pay RM10,000 in costs to each of the buyers, while RA Concept is to pay RM5,000 to each buyer.