Clarify role of China-based housing developers, says Umno Youth

Shahril Hamdan, vice-chief of Umno Youth.

PETALING JAYA: An Umno Youth leader has urged Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to give details on the move to rope in eight China-based developers for affordable homes built using the Industralised Building System.

Speaking to FMT, Umno Youth vice-chief, Shahril Hamdan said Zuraida needed to clarify if the eight Chinese companies were to be main contractors or merely as suppliers to local developers.

Zuraida was recently reported as saying that Malaysia had signed deals with eight China-based companies to invest in Malaysia, transfer pre-fabrication construction technology, and offer rent-to-own option to buyers.

Shahril questioned if Chinese developers would play a lead role in the construction of affordable homes, based on Zuraida’s comments that local players could only build 19,000 units annually and that Pakatan Harapan has promised the construction of one million affordable homes in 10 years.

“If the eight companies are only suppliers of IBS technology, how are they able to offer rent-to-own schemes if they are not developing these affordable housing projects?” he said.

Shahril noted that, before the 2018 general election, PH politicians would accuse the government of “selling out the country” because many government projects were awarded to Chinese companies.

“Is the PH-led government also selling the country or is PH making yet another u-turn and conceding that Chinese companies are able to offer lower costs?”

In the event that these eight Chinese companies were roped in to also act as developers, Shahril said a pertinent question was whether they had gone through an open tender process as PH had committed to.

Melaka-based developer Anthony Adam Cho said the move to bring in the Chinese developers will have its benefits, particularly in the transfer of technology.

But Putrajaya must give local developers equal opportunities, particularly in land prices.

“There should not be special incentives to foreigners without giving the same to local developers. Any awarding of projects or contracts should be done through an open tender process to ensure transparency.”

The government, he added, should provide financing instruments to local developers to compete on equal ground with the Chinese companies.