1,800 auctioneers left out of e-Lelong

PETALING JAYA: Auctioneers in Peninsular Malaysia will no longer have any role in the 2012 Rules of Court under new amendments to introduce the web-based platform, e-Lelong.

Speaking to FMT, president of the Council of Auctioneers Malaysia Mustafa Osman said they had been left out without prior notice or explanation despite earlier promises to the contrary.

They had written to de facto law minister Azalina Othman on Feb 22 to air their concerns, only to hear soon after about the government’s plan to implement the amended rules.

Mustafa said the bad news was delivered to them when they were recently invited to the Chief Registrar’s office at the Palace of Justice for a special meeting on the e-Lelong system.

Mustafa Osman, president of the Council of Auctioners Malaysia says they have been left out without prior notice or explanation despite earlier promises to the contrary.

“What is even more shocking is that the Bar Council Malaysia has also decided to turn its back on us.

“They had been very supportive in helping us fight for our jobs but, for the first time, they have turned against us,” said Mustafa.

“The Bar Council’s representatives have supported the notion that auctioneers should not be part of this online system.

“It is shocking and surprising that both the registrar and Bar Council have agreed to eliminate us in spite of the government’s prior direction, through the minister, not to leave us out.

“The unacceptable fact is that the courts and Bar Council have the heart to leave 1,800 of us out of jobs and instead hand out jobs to a third party, the lawyers.

“Is this fair? The only person who addressed our grievances was Azalina’s senior officer, who was present at the meeting. He said he will bring the matter up to Azalina, asking us not to give up hope yet.

“I am still in shock. If I had heart problems, I think I would have fainted on the spot.”

Mustafa said auctioneers had since 1929 assisted the court in auction matters, without receiving a single sen from the government or the courts.

“I have always believed that after God there are the courts, but now it looks like we have nowhere to go.”

The e-Lelong was conducted as a pilot project at the Kuantan Court Complex last July.

Chief Justice Raus Sharif had said then that the bidders’ identity would be kept confidential to encourage more bidders to participate in the public auction.

The system allows public auctions to be conducted online in real time. It is expected to increase the public’s chances of owning fixed assets, especially residential properties, at real value without price manipulation.

How auctioneers can play a role

Mustafa said at a time when the government is doing its best to create more jobs, the Palace of Justice had decided to eliminate auctioneers.

“We are only asking for the court to include us in the e-Lelong system.

“It should allow us to continue to do the groundwork, up to the filing of the affidavits.

“We have made it clear that we have no objection to the e-Lelong system, provided we are included in the system.”

Should auctioneers lose their jobs, a household could be looking at losing their yearly income of RM40,000 to RM50,000.

Multiplied by 1,800 auctioneers in Peninsular Malaysia, that could amount to a loss of RM90 million.

The council’s deputy president, R Raj Yogan Pillai  said technical issues could arise with the e-Lelong system, especially when dealing with borrowers who may not have access to the internet or are not familiar with the system.

“Many defendants (housing loan borrowers) may not be connected and hence may not be able to access the e-Lelong system.

“Imagine if a borrower, at the 11th hour, is able to make a last-minute settlement on the property that is already up for auction on the site.

“It isn’t fair for them and this is something that the e-Lelong system cannot handle.

“We are intermediaries and this is a service that the e-Lelong system cannot offer,” he said.