Dato’ Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan has been embroiled in the controversy of granting an extension of time (EOT) for the construction of condominium projects by BHL Group of Companies. The former Urban Well-Being, Housing and Local Government (KPKT) Minister’s move has resulted in the house-buyers failing to secure Liquidated and Ascertained Damages (LAD) from the developer as stipulated in the Sale and Purchase Agreements (SPAs).
The aggrieved house-buyers have filed a judicial review against the Housing Controller and the Minister for the above decision last year.
Last Tuesday, the High Court ruled that the Housing Controller has no power to grant an extension of time to developers who delay the completion of housing projects. Justice Hanipah Farikullah, who allowed the judicial review application by 71 house buyers, said the minister’s decision to rely on a regulation to allow the extension was against the Housing Development (Control & Licensing) Act.
We have called upon Dato’ Seri Rahman Dahlan to explain why he abused his powers to benefit the developers who have failed to deliver their projects on a timely basis for the house-buyers.
Worse, it has been discovered that the appeal by BHL approved by the Minister was supported by a letter from the wife of the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Apandi Ali, masquerading as a Director of the company. The existence of the letter raises valid suspicions of bias, cronyism and impropriety.
Yesterday, the former Minister, Dato’ Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan denied that he has abused his power in the process.
"The decision I took was based on the powers clearly given to KPKT minister as stated in Act 118 (Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966)," he said. He added that the decision in granting EOT was based on merit and was not influenced by support letters.
However, the Court ruling has stated clearly that the Minister has no power under Section 24 of the Housing and Development (Control and Licensing) Act, to empower housing controllers to waive or change any of the terms and conditions of the prescribed statutory agreement. What “power” is the Minister harping about?
What is however most important, is the fact that Dato’ Seri Rahman Dahlan had insisted that his decision was based on the “merits” of the case. However, in his statement, the Minister failed to specify even a single instance of such a “merit” to justify his decision which had rubbed salt onto the wounds of the house-buyers.
What could be so convincing and justifiable in the appeal by the developer, other than the fact that it was put forth by the wife of the Attorney-General, which moved the Minister to arbitrarily extend the completion date of the housing project by 12 months resulting in millions of ringgit of losses by the house-buyers?
Among the primary roles of the Minister is to safeguard the interest of Malaysian home-buyers against incompetent and unscrupulous developers. Barring perhaps acts of God, the Minister should never interfere in a transaction, especially if it were to clearly result in substantial losses to the house-buyers.
Instead of granting approvals for extensions to Developers and penalising house-buyers, the Minister should have instead given warnings to the Developers that the Government will not hesitate to assist home-buyers in asserting their rights should the former fail to deliver their promises.