Tag Archive | "Malaysia"

Malaysia: Banks Collude with Speculators to Force House Sales


NOVANEWS

The poor are the first victims of Malaysia’s house price bubble

Banks are using a fast-track procedure to repossess and sell houses of poorer Malaysians who fall behind with mortgage repayments. The Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) demands an investigation. Many of the victims are former urban poor, rehoused 10 years ago in slum clearance programmes. Because their new houses have increased rapidly in value, banks and speculators are keen to get their hands on this real estate, without regard to the human cost.

The Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) has urged the National Bank (Bank Negara) to investigate whether there is a secret partnership between banks and property agents for the forced sale of low cost housing when working class Malaysians’ fall behind with their mortgage payments.

Malaysian banks have begun requiring apartment buyers to sign agreements giving the banks the right to auction the apartment without prior notice at the bank’s discretion.[1]

PSM secretary-general A Sivarajan said his party has come across cases where apartments have been quickly auctioned off to property agents..

“The original buyer had failed to pay the loan for a couple of months and as has happened numerous times, the apartment was auctioned off without the original buyer’s prior knowledge,” he said.

According to Sivarajan, PSM investigations suggest that most of the apartment houses which have been auctioned off in this manner are those that belong to the poorest 40% of society. Richer Malaysians get several opportunities to reschedule their payments or, in the worst case, to organise the sale of their apartment to pay their debts. in contrast, it seems that banks move quickly to sell the apartments of poorer Malaysians to property developers, with callous indifference to the misery this causes.

According to Sivarajan, most of the cases the PSM has identified relate to people, especially those living in the country’s biggest cities, who had been forced out of their squatter houses during state-wide operations between 2004 and 2005.

“They were asked to move to low cost houses, and they bought these apartments for around RM42,000. Now, more than 10 years later, these houses have gone up in value with some costing as much as RM150,000.”

By forcing a non-transparent sale of these apartments, the banks and their connected property dealers benefit from the rise in property prices, while the owners of the apartments find themselves expelled from their homes a second time. They are unlikely to get the best possible price for their homes, and will probably be unable to find affordable alternative housing in urban areas.

*

Note

1. A Deed of Assignment and a Power of Attorney.

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Malaysia Politics and the Obsession with Power


NOVANEWS
 

Power is integral to politics but the obsession with the perpetuation and pursuit of power in Malaysia in the last couple of years has gone beyond reasonable boundaries.

On one side you have a person who is hell-bent on remaining in power in spite of the massive ethical questions surrounding his direct and indirect involvement in a state-owned strategic investment company that was mired in money-laundering, fraudulence and manipulation on a gigantic scale through individuals and entities associated with it. Some of these individuals and entities are being investigated in other countries. A few of them have been convicted in court and imprisoned. And yet in Malaysia there has been no concrete action against the alleged culprits though the Public Accounts Committee of the Malaysian Parliament had proposed in April 2016 that one of the former senior officials of the investment company in question be investigated thoroughly and held answerable. The unwillingness to act against blatant wrongdoing has tarnished the reputation of the person at the apex of the nation. He is obviously not prepared to acknowledge that there is an albatross around his neck.

At the other end of the ring we have a person who is determined to oust the person at the apex of the nation. He is willing to forge marriages of convenience with his former foes in order to achieve this objective — even if it means repudiating his own words and deeds from yesteryear. In the process, he has revealed that it is the attainment of power regardless of the means employed that matters most to him.

The Machiavellian politics of the two principal protagonists has had an adverse impact upon Malaysian public life as a whole. The supporters of each protagonist present their adversary in the vilest terms conceivable. For those opposed to the person at the apex, he has done nothing good though in reality the thrust he has given to the coordinated delivery of public services through Urban Transformation Centres (UTCs), public housing, public transportation and the digital economy has benefitted segments of society. Likewise, opponents of the man trying to oust the person at the apex have deliberately ignored his considerable achievements when he was at the pinnacle for 22 years that would include transforming a commodity based economy to a middle-level manufacturing nation and have instead chosen to focus only on his shortcomings and failures. This skewed approach has also begun to influence perspectives on the economy and ethnic relations.

Some of the opponents of the person at the apex keep repeating that Malaysia is on the verge of bankruptcy — a wild allegation that runs contrary to current evidence such as our strong foreign reserves position. Similarly, opponents of his adversary never tire of highlighting alleged abuses of power in Penang and Selangor, states under PakatanHarapan,  when the  truth is ordinary people have benefitted from some of their welfare-oriented programmes. For PakatanHarapan, UMNO dominates the ruling BarisanNasional and its other component parties have no say at all in decision-making  but this is not quite accurate as demonstrated by the role that a Sarawak BN party played in shaping the coalition’s stand on RUU 355. By the same token, it is wrong of UMNO to argue that the DAP is the dominant force in the Pakatan which given historic, demographic and electoral realities make no sense at all.

If misrepresentations and distortions have become more pervasive in Malaysian politics as a result of the tussle for power of the two antagonists it is partly because the media have performed a negative role. Segments of the established media have been unrelenting in their often vicious attacks upon the opponent of the person at the apex. The decorum and courtesy due to an elder who all said and done had served the nation have been thrown to the winds. Sections of the new media blindly opposed to the person at the apex are equally guilty of coarse, crude criticisms of the man and his family which only reflect their own lack of etiquette.

A more responsible and balanced approach on the part of both the established and new media regardless of who they support or oppose would contribute towards a change in the atmosphere. A changed atmosphere is a prerequisite for the interrogation of power itself which must happen if the nation as a whole is to become less obsessed with power for its own sake. The two coalitions, BN and PK, and any other party that is entering the electoral fray, are even more crucial in bringing about a change in the attitude towards power. The electoral actors themselves, more than anyone else, should realise that an obsession with power could lead to their own destruction because it will only intensify internal friction and factionalism. To put it differently, politics should never be separated from principles, however difficult it may be in certain circumstances. This is where civil society has a vital role to play. If more and more civil society groups demand that politicians adhere to certain principles in politics and refuse to endorse them in an unquestioning  manner especially when they violate the most fundamental norms of decency in public conduct, it is not inconceivable that they will be forced to change.

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