KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin on Monday (Sep 16) defended her proposal to market unsold luxury properties to buyers from China and Hong Kong, pointing out that this would help resolve an oversupply situation.
This came after her proposal drew flak from several politicians, including Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) women’s wing vice chief Faizah Ariffin, who said that the proposal would result in the country being owned by foreigners.
Speaking after a ceremony to convey city status on Seberang Perai in Penang, Ms Zuraida said her proposal under the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme would address the glut in the high-end property segment.
“We are trying to resolve the current (oversupply) situation to spur the economy,” she was quoted as saying by the Malaysian Insight.
“It will help in terms of economic prospects, job market, and to invigorate affordable housing projects.”
Last week, the minister, who is also PKR's women chief, said the government is looking at organising a Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) either in China or Hong Kong to attract buyers to invest in Malaysian properties.
“I was thinking that we could organise this HOC campaign (in China or in Hong Kong)... (because) it is cheaper to buy a house here,” she had said.
The minister said she would seek Cabinet's approval after discussing the matter with Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohammadin Ketapi.
However, Ms Faizah criticised the proposal, saying that it showed the minister’s failure in leading her ministry to tackle the problem.
In a Facebook post on Sep 12, Ms Faizah wrote: “Imagine if her call became a reality? It is akin to our homeland becoming owned by others when our own citizens are unable to buy property.”
She added that the housing ministry should come up with more serious policies or guidelines to encourage developers to pursue more affordable housing projects for citizens, especially those in the low-income group.
“I also want to remind Zuraida to use all available channels to gather feedback if she is no longer able to think rationally. In other words, if she is unable to carry out her responsibility, please give the role to someone who is more wise and qualified.”
On Monday, Ms Zuraida added that her ministry is taking stock of unsold luxury properties, including commercial properties, valued at around RM100 billion (US$24 billion).
“If we don’t unfreeze the ban on luxury properties, there will be abandoned, dirty and old buildings around. Do we want that in Malaysia? We will regret it later,” she said, according to the Malaysian Insight.
“We will curb this issue according to procedure, not auction it off like pisang goreng (banana fritters).”