Thursday, March 25, 2010

S’poreans in JB housing nightmare back in court

Singaporean Norsiah Suja’i thought she had found her dream home when she forked out her life savings to buy a double-storey terrace house in Johor Baru in 1998 for more than RM335,000 (S$141,500 now).

Instead, the retired teacher and 72 other Singaporeans in Taman Permata are about to lose their property to the developer’s bank – after the developer went bust in 2000.

The bank won a court order from the Johor Baru High Court to auction off their property four years ago. The court also ruled that the houses were an abandoned project.

Yesterday, some 30 of the 73 Singaporeans travelled by bus to Putrajaya, about 40km from Kuala Lumpur, to hear their appeal against the High Court’s decision.

But the case was adjourned after their lawyer Rosli Kamaruddin asked for one of the three judges to recuse himself, as he was the same judge who allowed the bank to auction off three houses in Taman Permata.

‘We have suffered so much loss, I hope we can all get some justice in this case,’ said Madam Norsiah, 65.

Most of the Singaporean buyers are retirees, who paid for their houses in cash with their pension and life savings.

The developer had failed to deliver on its promise that the 136-unit Taman Permata would be a posh residential area complete with condo facilities such as a swimming pool and security guards.

Most of the Singapore buyers have been forced to live there now, as they cannot afford another property in Singapore.

‘I spend my weekdays in JB and I visit my daughters in Singapore on weekends,’ said Madam Norsiah. ‘I have no choice.’

Another buyer, who wanted to be known only as Madam Safia, 60, said the JB High Court had also ordered buyers to pay another 10 per cent on top of what they paid for their houses to obtain their title deeds. But only a few were willing to pay and even then they did not immediately get the title deeds.

She said although the houses were built in 1998, they were allowed to move in only after they obtained the certificate of fitness in 2005. ‘By that time, our houses were already in bad shape and each of us had to fork out about RM50,000 to fix our houses,’ she said.

Madam Safia said they had tried various ways to save their houses.

In 2003, they had even met then Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and then Local Government and Housing Minister Ong Ka Ting.

The bank’s lawyers declined to comment on the case.

Source: Straits Times, 25 Mar 2010

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