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Trial for lawsuit brought by property buyers against JB's Country Garden Danga Bay adjourned to September

During the second day of court proceedings, a Singaporean buyer alleged that the sales and purchase agreement was altered after he signed the document.

Trial for lawsuit brought by property buyers against JB's Country Garden Danga Bay adjourned to September

File photo of the Country Garden Danga Bay development in Johor Bahru. (Photo: Amir Yusof)

JOHOR BAHRU: The trial for a class action lawsuit filed by condominium unit owners against developer Country Garden Danga Bay in the Johor Bahru Civil High Court continued for the second day on Thursday (Aug 4).

In his testimony before High Court Judge Noor Hisham Ismail, Singaporean buyer Anson Soh alleged that 24 pages out of the 25-page sales and purchase agreement had been swapped out without his knowledge after he signed the document.

He said the only unaltered page was the last page, which was the only page that contained his signature. 

Mr Soh highlighted the purported differences between the original document in his possession and a copy he received from the developer. 

These included differences in the names of the proprietor of the land the Country Garden Danga Bay development is built on as well as the number of storeys for the condominium car park. 

“The duplicated version (of the agreement) says that there are seven levels for the car park whereas the original document shows six levels. This is a very clear sign that the pages were swapped out,” he said. 

The lawsuit was filed by dozens of disgruntled owners, including investors from Singapore, in 2018 against Country Garden Danga Bay for fraud and misrepresentation.

The proceedings were delayed after the developer unsuccessfully applied to strike out some of the plaintiffs. The case was later postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit was initially filed by 49 buyers, but eight plaintiffs have had their application struck out by the High Court. A total of 41 buyers, who are citizens of Singapore, Malaysia and China, are proceeding with the suit. 

Mr Soh had testified on Wednesday that based on reports by a quantity surveyor and architect, restoration cost to the purported misrepresentation for his unit was estimated to be RM292,907.02 (US$65,700). 

He also testified that the developer had misrepresented some aspects of the condominium common area and there were missing items with a reported value of RM53,207,840.

On Thursday, Mr Soh said the unit he received the keys to was “very different” from the model unit when he visited the development showflat in 2013. 

In his witness statement, Mr Soh submitted photographs he took with a digital camera at the showroom and compared them to his actual unit. 

He claimed that the quality of the kitchen cabinet, material for drawers, size of wardrobe, type of door and type of kitchen stove were different from what were featured in the showroom. 

“The showroom indicated that we would get a solid timber door for our main door, but all we got was just a fire-rated door,” said Mr Soh. 

“I was promised four induction cookers (for the stove) but instead got two gas burners,” he added. 

During Mr Soh’s testimony, the lawyer representing Country Garden, Mr Leonard Yeoh, interjected a few times, saying that Mr Soh was repeating points he had already made in his submitted witness statement. 

“As a point of clarification, I think all these things are mentioned in the witness statement and it’s repetition,” said the lawyer from Tay and Partners.

“I don’t know why we are going through all these again since the witness statement has been submitted. We are wasting everyone’s time … I don’t know if it's for the purposes of the media,” added Mr Yeoh. 

Judge Noor Hisham replied by saying that it was “not fair” for the lawyer to “merely brush aside” the witness’ testimony. 

After Mr Soh’s testimony, the judge adjourned proceedings to Sep 11 and said that the defendant lawyer will then be given an opportunity to cross examine. 

According to its Facebook page, Country Garden Danga Bay is an exclusive fully-integrated high-rise residential, commercial and leisure development fronting the Straits of Johor. 

Located within Iskandar Malaysia, an economic corridor in southern Johor, it is a project by Chinese developer Country Garden. 


Meanwhile, earlier on Thursday morning, a case which the developer filed against five members of the condominium’s management committee commenced at the Strata Management Tribunal in Johor Bahru. 

Country Garden Danga Bay is alleging that it was not informed by the management committee when the latter voted to change the property manager during a meeting held in June. 

However, during the hearing, the Strata Management Tribunal’s President Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said he does not have the jurisdiction to grant the claimant's requests, namely to reopen the tender for the property manager and order the five committee members to pay compensation due to a breach of contract. 

Ms Nurul Ain Mohd Ali Huzairy, a lawyer who was acting in her personal capacity to represent the five committee members, told CNA that they were given two weeks by the tribunal to file their submissions. 

The developer will have two weeks to submit its reply after that, she added. 

"The case will likely face the tribunal in six weeks, some time in October," Ms Nurul Ain said. 

Source: CNA/am(tx)


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