AMPANG, Sept 24 — In an unprecedented act of desperation, house buyers of Hulu Kelang’s stalled Ukay Bistari project are guaranteeing 4,000 votes to any coalition which can resolve their situation before the next general election.
Their offer is seen to pit Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and Barisan Nasional (BN) against each other for more seats in Selangor. PR won the state in Election 2008 but BN is bent on recapturing the country’s wealthiest state.
“In a final act of desperation, the purchasers who are mostly resident of Ampang and Gombak parliamentary constituency are now offering the state and federal government the opportunity to participate in a unique tender where we will vote en bloc to the government of the day that helps us solve our housing problems.
“We can guarantee them a minimum of 4,000 votes in the next general election,” the purchasers’ Persatuan Pemilik Hartanah UKB (PHUKB) chairman Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan Abdul Rahman wrote in an email to the media today.
The Malaysian Insider understands that such a move would be enough to boot out the current PR elected representatives of the Gombak and Ampang parliamentary seats and the Bukit Antarabangsa state seat.
The purchasers’ ultimatum serves as a stark reminder to politicians from both sides that the people cared little for their politicking and were more concerned about the local, pressing problems facing the community.
It also serves as a warning to the fledgling PR coalition that their hold over Selangor, or any other state for that matter, was not a permanent one.
Dr Rafick told The Malaysian Insider today that all PHUKB’s 2,000 members were behind the association’s plans and were geared to do whatever it takes to have their housing woes solved.
“As of last week, we received confirmation that our guaranteed vote bank is more than 6,000 people. We have rallied up our members to seek the support of their friends, their neighbours. We will speak with one voice on this,” he said firmly.
Of the total, he said, 68 per cent of voters were from the Ampang parliamentary constituency, 30 per cent from Gombak and the remaining were from elsewhere.
He claimed that if the PR government ignored their requests, it was likely that their current representatives would be voted out and replaced by the BN.
“Based on the voting pattern and results of the last general election, the number of votes we are offering will be enough to change the both the Gombak and Ampang MPs and the Bukit Antarabangsa asssemblyman,” he declared.
PKR vice-president Azmin Ali is both the Gombak MP and the Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman while his colleague, PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamarudin, is the Ampang MP.
To prove they were sincere in their intentions, PHUKB members will congregate at the project site next Sunday (October 3) in a publicity event to unveil a large 20 feet by 30 feet yellow banner facing the middle ring road, stating their intentions.
“We are tired of being victimised in all the negotiations in trying to revive the Ukay Bestari project, which has been stalled since 2003.
“The Selangor state government stepped in and made things even worse for us. We have also been negotiating through talks with the Federal government, through the Housing and Local Government Ministry but to date, the problem has not been solved,” he said.
Dr Rafick also voiced disgust that the Selangor government was presently more focussed on the ongoing PKR elections than other, more pressing matters.
“I am utterly disappointed. In my personal capacity, I voted for Azmin in the polls but it looks like he has failed me,” he said.
Azmin is currently running for deputy presidency in the hotly contested PKR polls.
“We have given the developers a chance, we have been talking to the Selangor government, the ministry, but clearly, it requires strong political will to solve this problem. This is why we have no choice but to do this,” said Dr Rafick.
He added that he believed the move would be used as a precedent to other citizens facing similar problems in their areas.
According to PHUKB’s progress report in February this year, the RM200 million mixed housing development “Ukay Bistari” was initiated by a company called Damai Bistari Sdn Bhd, which is wholly owned by Intelbest Corporation Sdn Bhd.
Damai Bistari, said Dr Rafick, is managed by Tan Sri Chan Ah Chye who is its corporate advisor. Chan is also the executive director of the troubled Talam Corporation Bhd, which made headlines when the Selangor government had to borrow RM392 million to bail out the private township developer from its debts.
Ukay Bistari involves about 1,800 units of low-cost homes, medium-cost apartments, service apartments, terrace houses, shop lots and office lots. Since its launch, over 98 per cent of its units were already snapped up.
The project hit a snag and was stalled in 2005 however, allegedly due to financial difficulties.
“The developer mismanaged the finances. The entire project has a value of RM200 million. Lets assume they make a profit of 25 per cent… that means the profit is RM50 million.
“So far, until today, RM150 million has been purchased, so we still have RM50 million in hand. They have already collected the amount but they have not been able to complete the project.
“Furthermore, it issued RM160 million in bonds to finance the project but they still could not do it,” said Dr Rafick.
In late 2006, some units of the terrace homes were delivered but contained a multitude of defects. According to PHUKB, homeowners filed claims with the Consumers Tribunal and won.
In 2007, the developers applied for protection from its creditors under Section 176 of the Companies Act. In a financial restructuring exercise with bondholders, about 93 per cent of purchasers agreed to the new proposed scheme which allowed the developers to complete all units by July last year. A court sanction for the new scheme was granted in April 2008.
The project however stalled again by January last year, prompting PHUKB to seek the help of the Selangor state government who appointed RSS Consultant to oversee the project.
“The consultant brought in by the Selangor government messed it up further. They cheated the contractors who came in with the false impression that the government was backing the entire project.
“But now, the Selangor government made a U-turn and said they had no hand in it; that they just facilitated a private agreement between two parties,” said Dr Rafick.
He said that since the association began kicking up a fuss over its “en bloc vote”, the Federal government began to take an interest in the matter.
“The minister met with us last week and visited the site. Next Thursday, he has asked me to do a presentation on their proposal to solve the problem. Actually to me, it is not that difficult to solve.
“The Selangor government has a big hold over Talam Corporation, so if they are keen, they can just call in for a meeting with Chan and set some terms for him,” he said.
Dr Rafick added that if both the BN and PR governments failed to solve their problems, the residents would abstain from voting in the next general election.
“They seem to have lost their purpose… their priorities should not be about politicking, it should be about fighting for our issues and our rights,” he said.