Minister links HK protests to housing woes?

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin.

KUALA LUMPUR: A minister today attributed the ongoing protests in Hong Kong to the high costs of owning homes in the island city.

The startling statement was made by Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, when she was explaining to reporters a campaign to promote Malaysian residential properties in Hong Kong.

“In Hong Kong now, there is a strike over home ownership. So this is an opportunity for us to consider (promoting Malaysian properties). The plan is still being studied to detail its mechanism,” she told reporters after attending the soft launch of the 7th Asia Pacific Urban Forum here.

Since March this year, Hong Kong residents have been protesting a bill that would allow the extradition of fugitives wanted in mainland China.

The protests have since turned into a mass movement for democracy.

Zuraida’s proposal to organise a home ownership campaign to woo foreigners including from Hong Kong to buy residential properties in Malaysia drew criticism.

She defended the move today, saying only houses costing RM1 million and above would be sold to foreigners.

Earlier this week, pressure group Consumers Association of Penang warned that any promotion drive to attract Hong Kong investors to buy properties in Malaysia in the wake of the political crisis in the autonomous island could push house prices beyond the reach of ordinary citizens.

It comes on the back of reports that Malaysian property agents and developers were collaborating with agents in Hong Kong for data on buyers there.

“In the next one to two months, many developers are expected to go to Hong Kong to sell Malaysian properties,” Toh Chin Leong, the chairman of the Penang chapter of the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda), had told FMT.