Independent committee assigned to probe low-cost flat scandal

MBPJ today announced that an independent audit, corporate and governance committee (ACGC) chaired by councillor Micheal Soon will probe the recent scandal of ineligible MBPJ staff owning low-cost flats.

The committee, which excludes the mayor, will investigate whether the council was implementing an unlawful policy and whether the ownership is categorised as illegal.

“We would like to clarify that the particular scheme was done under the old leadership of MPPJ from 2000-2005, even before PJ got her bandar status,” councillor Latheefa Koya said.

Councillor and ACGC chairperson Michael Soon said that assumptions circulated in the media that the current MBPJ mayor or councillors were involved were not correct.

He said his committee will take three criteria into account when probing the truth.

“First, we would like to know whether there was a policy to allow the staff to buy the low-cost flats. Was there a circulation of email and particular (conditions) required by the MPPJ (head)?”

“Secondly, were the low-cost (ownership) policy in general and staff (ownership) policy for low-cost flats implemented correctly? (Third), were staff earning more than RM2500 abusing their positions by owning low-cost flats?”

“If it is the case, further actions such as instructions to return the (property) or other (such actions) will be considered,”

He said it is important to find out who ‘masterminded’ the policy as this was a situation inherited from the past administration.

“We heard that several former local leaders are involved and some of them were reported as saying there was a certain quota given to some political parties.”

The AGCC was setup by MBPJ to be the first independent commission to report directly to the council. The current lineup, which will be probing the scandal, consists of five members.

The low-cost housing scandal erupted last week as 500 MBPJ staff were revealed to own low-cost units, renting them out while many low-wage earners were denied access to such flats.

Although the state law states that only people with less than RM2500 household income qualify for low-cost units, MBPJ officers claimed the order was given to all developers to reserve 10 percent of the units for their use.

Former MPPJ president Emran Kadir and Selangor exco for housing Mohd Mokhtar Ahmad Dahlan both denied having made such an order in a media report today.

The latest development hints that some officers involved, such as MBPJ’s planning director Sharipah Marhaini, intend to return the units back to the state government.

Latheefa meanwhile said the low-cost housing scheme is supposed to fall under the jurisdiction of the Selangor state government, however the local council now has no choice but to shoulder the responsibility.

“The very sad fact that the scandal is affecting 500 of our staffs makes it necessary for us to investigate whether they had under-declared their (income) to get the units.

“Meanwhile the state government and MACC are going to continue with their investigations,” she said.