Other views: A re-look into building affordable housing

Petaling Jaya – CJMY spotted this particular interesting view in the Daily Sun today written by Chang Ta Kwok, titled ‘Keep Public Land For Public Use’ and would like to share his views with our readers here.

Picture for illustration purpose only
Picture for illustration purpose only

The excerpts of Chang’s view.

I am a small developer who has been in the industry for a long time. In the 1970s, developers had to surrender about 40% of their land for public and utility usage. By the 1990s, developers would have been lucky if they have to surrender less than 60%.

The hike in percentage is one major reason, among others, that cause property prices to rise.

The underlying problem about surrendering land is that it leads to increasing demand for bigger plots and more land by the approving authorities. Why? Because it is free.

The game is for the utility companies to demand free land in excess of their needs so that they may then either sell or go                           into JV (joint ventures) to develop such land. The politically connected then jump onto this gravy-train and apply for the land surrendered for public use, from open space , school land, suraus, kinder gardens, land for food courts, river reserves, fire stations and police stations.

The developers have proposed that all such demands for free land be justified and the utility companies made to pay (either to the state or developers) based on market value for utility usage (which is much lower than for housing or commercial use).

First, this is to ensure demands for land are justified financially by the utility companies themselves, as the land has to be paid for.

Second, any excess land cannot be converted to other use and should be returned to the party that has surrendered the land in the first place. This will discourage utility companies from demanding excessive land. If the excess land had to be reverted to the original landowner, there is no avenue for any politically-linked party to apply for such land either. To me this is fair play and would automatically stop abuse.

In the same spirit, the government should only acquire lands for public use and not then parcel out lots to politically connected parties. Similarly, there should not be any change of intended use of land once the land has been acquired.  Any excess land should be returned to the original owner with the owner paying back the price of the original acquisition. To me this is fair play and stops abuse of the powerful Land Acquisition Act.

 

Picture for illustration purpose only
Picture for illustration purpose only

 

The government should stop selling state land at deep discounts to government-linked companies to develop luxury housing. These precious plots of land should be used to build affordable and social housing.  State land is the major factor that will make housing affordable.