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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Egyptian Sheikh: Driving a Chevy is Haram

(Photo via

"And I think to myself, what a wonderful world..."

A Salafi sheikh in Egypt has reportedly issued a fatwa that buying [or driving] a Chevrolet vehicle is haram because the American brand’s logo looks like the Christian cross.

In the video below, prominent Egyptian TV presenter Amr Adeeb takes the sheikh’s joke-of-a-fatwa to task, saying, “We’ve reached a really strange place with this.”

“The car’s been around [for a century] and only now did you notice there’s a cross on the car?”

Adeeb also notes that the car is not used or presented as a form of religious iconography: “Do we hold mass for it? Do we pray for it?” And his guest chimes in with a comment about the self-centered nature of the fatwa itself: “As if the people who came up with the logo were thinking that we want to put this special logo on the car just to piss us [Muslims] off?”

The TV presenter concludes, “With all of the problems in Egypt, you’re concerned about the cross?... We’re calling for unity [in the country] and then you come up with [fatwas] like this?”

By the way, there’s actually a few theories going around about the symbolism behind the Chevrolet logo. One common story is that General Motors co-founder William C. Durant copied the design off some wallpaper he saw in a Parisian Hotel. But historian Ken Kaufmann says the logo is actually based on iconography used by the Southern Compressed Coal Company ad for its “Coalettes” logo.
Either way, it’s usually referred to as a bowtie emblem, of which there are many examples in various corporate logos.

Knowledge is power, people. And I’m too annoyed to comment further.

ABU-Hindraf takes it to Suhakam - Part II

ABU-Hindraf takes it to Suhakam

Cops deny aiding ‘school kids’ to disrupt ABU ceramah

SHAH ALAM, Jan 25 — Police said today they could not have aided a group of locals to disrupt an Anything But Umno (ABU) ceramah here last Saturday as officers only arrived after the two groups had clashed.

Shah Alam police chief Zahedi Ayob told reporters “police were only told (of the ceramah) after the disturbance but calmed the situation down as soon as we arrived.”

“We were not informed of the event. Why did they not tell us? Only they know,” he said.

ABU said yesterday it would lodge a complaint with the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) claiming police had worked with a gang of men to disrupt the gathering in a hall on Jalan Kebun here.

Rembau PKR chief Badrul Hisham Shaharin alleged that the “attack” was witnessed by plainclothes policemen who failed to step in despite the danger posed to the crowd by the group.

But Zahedi said today “even if a plainclothes officer had arrived earlier, he would not have been able to take action as he would have been alone and likely would have been whacked.”

“Even if you had been there, you would have had to wait for uniformed personnel. But as I said earlier, we did not know about the event at all and only arrived after the incident,” he said.

He also said allegations that the ceramah was disrupted by “30 to 40 men in Umno shirts are not true and only stories.”

“All six whom we detained for investigations are between 16 and 19 years old. School kids. Are they party members? Unlikely,” he said.

Zahedi added the six were identified as intruders during the ceramah through video and photographic evidence which showed “nobody there was in an Umno uniform.”

The anti-Umno coalition had claimed that the ceramah was cancelled after men in Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) T-shirts, allegedly armed with steel rods, kicked over tables and chairs and asked the attendees to leave.

Police also said they did not find any weapons at the scene but admitted there were unused flagpoles strewn about the venue.

Zahedi said organisers of public events should inform the police of their occurence as “we don’t want to obstruct, we want to protect.”

“If you do it in the hornet’s nest, then we will tell you not to and suggest another place. But if you say you like to get stung, then we will let you proceed,” he added.

He also said the six detained were not remanded and released on police bail after their statements were taken.

Police also said they were waiting to interview a 27-year-old who sustained injuries to his shoulder, back and eye in the clash and was hospitalised.

Aussie designer clarifies Rosmah shopping reports

A screenshot of Carl Kapp's press release to The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — Sydney-based fashion designer Carl Kapp, drawn into controversial claims that Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor spent A$100,000 (RM325,000) on a shopping trip in Australia earlier this month, clarified today that he had never specified the amount spent in his store.

The South African-born Kapp acknowledged that the prime minister’s wife had visited his store in Paddington, Sydney as published recently in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“The party of Datin Sri (Seri) Rosmah came to our store in a sizeable group, and during their visit, members of the party, including friends and the Chairman and organiser of Islamic Fashion Festival (IFF) separately made various purchases,” he said in a statement to The Malaysian Insider today.

“I believe Datin Sri Rosmah is the patron for this Islamic Fashion Festival.

“The article also stated that I alluded to being ‘flown to Malaysia next month’ solely for the benefit of the Prime Minister’s wife.

“This is also inaccurate. Visits to various parts of Asia, including Malaysia, for the purposes of channel marketing for our merchandise and sourcing of materials for future products are a regular part of my work calendar and ordinary course of business.” He added that the newspaper article had unfairly given the impression that the Carl Kapp establishment was indiscreet and was willing to divulge personal and private information about clients.

“This is manifestly untrue, and we wish to state unequivocally that we value greatly the privacy of our
Carl Kapp, courtesy of
clientele and would never violate their confidence under any circumstance,” he said.

Rosmah had on Monday dismissed claims of extravagant spending during a recent holiday in Sydney.

Several bloggers picked up the Sydney Morning Herald report that Rosmah had allegedly dropped an estimated RM325,000 in fashion designer Carl Kapp’s boutique during a private holiday a little more than a fortnight ago.

The paper reported Kapp as telling its ‘Private Sydney’ section that Rosmah “was absolutely gracious and very easy to deal with”, adding that she was nothing like the woman often portrayed by the local media for her extravagant lifestyle.

It was said that Kapp, who became suspicious of the identity of his mystery VIP customer when his Oxford Street store received a flurry of calls requesting valet parking for her limousine, said he was being flown to Malaysia next month with a collection of “toiles” for Rosmah to try on before completing her massive order of 61 dresses, pants, and tops.

Sodomy appeal: Saiful may have to wait longer

Parties filing notices of appeal have to wait for written judgments first, says Anwar's lead counsel Karpal Singh.

KUALA LUMPUR: Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan may have to wait at least three months to know if the prosecution’s appeal against Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal on a sodomy charge will be heard.

Anwar’s lead counsel Karpal Singh said today that under the Courts of Judicature Act, parties filing notices of appeal have to wait for written judgments first.

A standing order allows judges up to eight weeks to produce their written judgments.

“In Anwar’s case, the prosecution will then peruse the written judgment before deciding to file a petition of appeal.

“If the prosecution feels the grounds of the written judgment are favourable for an appeal, then they will file a petition, otherwise it’s the end of the matter,” said Karpal.

He also told reporters that it was the Attorney-General’s prerogative to appeal.

“Its nothing extraordinary. The other senior counsels and I have previously adviced our clients not to go ahead with an appeal after studying a written judgment.

Karpal was talking to reporters after meeting trial judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah’s secretary over the status of the written judgment on Anwar’s Sodomy II trial.

He said the judgment was still not ready and the secretary informed him that relevant parties will be notified as soon as it’s ready.

He explained that under Chief Justice’s practise directive, judges have eight weeks to come up with their written judgment from the filing day of notice of appeal.

Meanwhile, Mohamd Zabidin was back on duty today after having been on leave since delivering his judgment on Anwar’s case on Jan 9.

Last Friday, the AG’s Chambers filed notice of appeal which was signed by Solicitor-General Idrus Harun.

The chambers issued a statement that the decision to appeal was based on evidence and the law and was not swayed by emotion or sentiment.

Mohamad Zabidin acquitted and discharged Anwar after ruling that the court was not 100% certain that the integrity of the DNA samples had not been compromised.

He also ruled that the court was reluctant to convict a person solely on the uncorroborated evidence of complainant, Mohd Saiful.

‘Merit in Karpal’s one man-one seat proposal’

Some DAP leaders say the party should adopt the proposal and not cater to an elite few.

GEORGE TOWN: The DAP central executive committee must have the courage to adopt Karpal Singh’s one-man one seat proposal

The DAP chairman Karpal Singh made this proposal some time ago and the party is divided whether to take a stand on this for the coming election.

The Pahang DAP deputy chairman J Apalasamy and Bagan division assistant secretary G Asoghan feel adopting Karpal’s proposal is the only way forward for the party.

They said the one man – one seat policy would create more space for new talents to emerge.

Since many strongly supported Karpal’s proposal, they warned that some leaders and members will be frustrated if the party failed to adopt the proposal merely to satisfy a few.

Apalasamy and Asoghan were commenting on a recent statement by party deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw, who opposed Karpal’s proposal.

Tan was quoted as saying that the suggestion was not feasible and may not see the light of the day.

If adopted, the Kepong MP argued, the policy would cause a lot of dissatisfaction among current assemblymen and parliamentarians.

Apalasamy and Asoghan took Tan to task for seemingly suggesting that the ego and satisfaction of seven Peninsular-based double-seat representatives were far greater than wishes of thousands of grassroots leaders and members.

“Seng Giaw’s suggestion is a way backward, not forward,” said the duo.

If CEC failed to adopt the one man – one seat policy, Asoghan cautioned that majority members would perceive that the DAP leadership was using them to empower an elite few.

He said the party was not at all about seven double-seat holders, thus should uphold the rights of party grassroots and aspirations of the public.

“This is in line with the CAT theme of competency, accountability and transparency,” stressed Asoghan.

Bringing up fresh talents

Since the last general election, Apalasamy said many senior and new members have showed renewed enthusiasm to play active roles in the party.

He said the senior members, who have helped to build the party to its current strong political position, must be given due recognition.

“Hence, the seats must be distributed fairly and justly to accommodate these seniors and fresh talents,” he said.

Party supremo Karpal has proposed the one man – one seat policy with exceptions for candidates in Sabah and Sarawak, and Chief Minister of Penang, a post held by party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

Lim is currently Air Putih assemblyman and Bagan MP.

The one man – one seat policy would affect double-seat holders in Penang such as state DAP chief Chow Kon Yeow (Padang Kota assemblyman and Tanjung MP) and Deputy Chief Minister II and party deputy secretary general P Ramasamy (Prai assemblyman and Batu Kawan MP).

Others who would be affected are Perak DAP chairman Ngeh Koo Ham (Sitiawan assemblyman and Beruas MP), Nga Kor Ming (Pantai Remis assemblyman and Taiping MP), DAP national organising secretary Teresa Kok (Kinrara assemblywoman and Seputeh MP) and national DAP Youth chief Anthony Loke Siew Fook (Lobak assemblyman and Rasah MP) who is also Negeri Sembilan Opposition.

Two more double-seat holders, DAP Sibu MP and Bukit Assek assemblyman Richard Wong Ho Leng, and Bandar Kuching MP and Bukit Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen, would likely benefit from the exception to rule for now.

Suhakam: Polis tak nak bicara tapi terus hukum

Shaani berkata polis sepatutnya mendidik masyarakat supaya tidak mengambil tindakan yang bertentangan dengan undang -undang.

KUALA LUMPUR: Pesuruhjaya Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia (Suhakam) Shaani Abdullah

berpendapat institusi polis seolah-olah tidak faham dengan prinsip hak asasi manusia terutamanya dalam hal bertolak ansur semata-mata untuk melindungi kepentingan kumpulan tertentu.

Malah mereka menyalahgunakan kedudukan dengan mengurangkan kebebasan rakyat hanya untuk memudahkan kerja sendiri sedangkan tanggungjawab polis adalah untuk melindungi semua rakyat dan bukan untuk golongan majoriti, dakwa Shaani.

“Tak nak (guna) waran tapi mahu terus tangkap, tak nak bicara tapi mahu terus hukum,” tegurnya selepas mendengar aduan daripada wakil gerakan Asalkan Bukan Umno (ABU) Badrul Hisham Shaharin di pejabat Suhakam di sini hari ini.

Beliau berkata sedemikian ketika mengulas mengenai cara polis bertindak menangani serangan kumpulan samseng semasa program ceramah anjuran ABU dan Barisan Bertindak Hak Asasi Hindu (Hindraf) di Dewan Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam (MBSA) Seksyen 30, Jalan Kebun, Shah Alam pada malam 21 Januari lalu.

Shaani berkata polis sepatutnya mendidik masyarakat supaya tidak mengambil tindakan yang bertentangan dengan undang-undang dan bukannya menggunakan hukum sendiri dengan menyerang majlis ceramah tersebut.

“Majlis diadakan oleh badan yang sah, bukannya majlis anjuran kongsi gelap. Kalau rakyat marah, pergi buat aduan polis bukan guna hukum sendiri,” katanya.

Turut hadir mendengar aduan tersebut Pegawai Bahagian Aduan dan Siasatan Suhakam Yustina Ishak.

Polis disyaki bersubahat 

ABU dalam memorandumnya kepada Suhakam mendakwa salah seorang dari kumpulan penceroboh yang mengganggu ceramah itu adalah pegawai polis yang tidak mengenakan pakaian seragam dan mengesyaki polis bersubahat dengan kumpulan penyerang terbabit.

Badrul juga berkata polis pada malam kejadian tidak mengambil apa-apa tindakan walaupun penyerang masih ada di tempat kejadian, sebaliknya menyuruh penganjur memberhentikan ceramah.

Selain memorandum, turut dikemukakan bukti rakaman video serangan malam kejadian dan gambar penyerang yang dikenal pasti.

Beliau turut menafikan laporan akhbar Berita Harian bahawa seramai 1,000 penduduk yang tidak berpuas hati mengepung dewan berkenaan, sebaliknya mendakwa hanya kira-kira 10 pemuda dipercayai penyokong Barisan Nasional (BN) mengganggu dengan menjerit dengan kata-kata perkauman sambil mengugut orang ramai keluar dari dewan itu.

“Mereka kemudian mengejar dan menyerang hadirin berrketurunan India dengan kayu, topi keledar serta mencampak kerusi ke merata tempat.

“Berikutan itu, sorang lelaki India yang juga ahli Dewan Himpunan Penyokong PAS mengalami kecederaan dan sehingga hari ini masih ditahan dalam wad,” katanya.

Sehubungan itu, ABU menuntut supaya Suhakam menubuhkan jawatankuasa khas menyiasat kejadian itu dan mengumumkan laporan penyiasatan tersebut.

Gerakan itu juga mahu Suhakam memastikan penyerang terlibat dikenakan tindakan undang-undang selain mengeluarkan kenyataan mengutuk tindakan menggunakan kekerasan dan berbaur perkauman bagi menghalang hak orang awam berhimpun secara aman.

“Kami juga mahu Suhakam menyiasat sama ada polis bersubahat dengan penyerang yang terlibat,” katanya.
Sementara itu Shaani dalam responnya berkata pihaknya akan membawa perkara ini ke mesyuarat pesuruhjaya untuk tindakan selanjutnya.

Katanya dalam mesyuarat itu terpulang kepada keputusan Suhakan sama ada wajar suruhanjaya itu ditubuhkan atau mengadakan sesi pendengaran inkuiri awam.

Cops come under fire for their 'inaction'

Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (Warga Aman) has called for urgent police action against the "aggressors" who disrupted the Anything But Umno (ABU) ceramah in Shah Alam last Saturday.

The coalition of 20 Indian non-governmental groups has demanded to know why there is no action against those who gatecrashed the ceramah, and insisted that it be called off.

"Where and why is the Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussien and the inspector-general of police so quiet? Let’s see what action the police will take to bring the culprits to justice," said the coalition’s secretary-general S Barathidasan.

The 'End Umno/BN regime' ceramah organised by ABU and the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) at the Shah Alam City Council hall in Jalan Kebun was cancelled following the scuffle, that left one injured.

abu report police 240112 02The ceramah organisers lodged a police report yesterday, suspecting that police were also in cahoots with the assailants.

According to those who witnessed the incident, a “rowdy mob” interrupted ABU’s ceramah and hurled racial slurs at the participants, ordering them to vacate the hall.

“Such gangsterism must be stoped. It is the duty and responsibility of the police to protect citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble and speak.
“The police, however, have skirted around the matter contending that nobody was injured in the melee. The police are definitely in cohort with the gangsters for not taking any action immediately,” added Barathidasan.

He reminded that even if no one was assaulted, the authorities should investigate the incident nonetheless, “as (it’s) highly possible the incident will escalate into something serious”.

Jangan salahkan kami, kata penduduk Kampung Jalan Kebun

(Malaysian Digest) - Satu laporan polis telah dibuat oleh wakil penduduk Jalan Kebun bagi menggesa pihak berkuasa untuk menghalang Hindraf daripada memasuki kampung tersebut.
Jurucakap penduduk Shaari Basri, 53, ketika ditemui pemberita mempersoalkan kehadiran Hindraf di kampung Sabtu lalu.

Shaari berkata, 100 peratus penduduk Jalan Kebun adalah berbangsa Melayu dan kehadiran Hindraf di kampung tersebut adalah mencurigakan.
"Hindraf adalah sebuah pertubuhan haram. Mengapa mereka mahu menganjurkan acara di kampung kami? Jangan salahkan penduduk kampung tentang provokasi yang berlaku. Mereka yang memulakannya," dakwa Shaari.

Beliau hadir bersama kira-kira 30 penduduk lain.

Dalam kejadian pada 21 Januari lalu, ceramah Asal Bukan Umno (ABU) di Jalan Kebun telah diganggu oleh sekumpulan lelaki bersenjatakan kayu dan topi keledar.

Bar Council says homosexuals free to speak up

The Malaysian Insider
by Lisa J. Ariffin

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — The Malaysian Bar Council refuted today Utusan Malaysia’s claims that it supports homosexuality but backed the freedom of expression “minorities who face discrimination, abuse and persecution for their sexual identity.

An Utusan Malaysia bureau chief’s column in the Malay daily questioned why the Bar Council “supported” homosexuality among Malaysians, calling it part of a “deviant wave” that is fast gaining acceptance throughout the world.

But Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee (picture) told The Malaysian Insider “Utusan’s claims are irrelevant.”

“We would not support same-sex marriage but we support freedom of expression, even for (Perkasa president Datuk) Ibrahim Ali despite not agreeing with him,” he said, referring to the leader of the right-wing Malay rights NGO.

Lim said section 377 of the Penal Code bars both anal and oral sex without any distinction with regards to sexuality.

“Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual connection necessary to the offence described in this section. What is clear is that this provision does not draw a distinction between homosexual and heterosexual activity,” he said.

He added that the Bar Council “supports the freedom of expression and assembly by a group of minorities who face discrimination, abuse and persecution for their sexual and gender identity.”

Section 377 provides that “any person who has sexual connection with another person by the introduction of the penis into the anus or mouth of the other person is said to commit carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”

Lim said that as heterosexual adults engage in oral and anal sex, such a law presented a “moral hypocrisy.”

Noraini Razak, who was a news editor at the Malay daily until last month, accused the lawyers today of supporting gays, lesbians and transgendered people despite Malaysia being among 70 out of a total of 195 countries which banned homosexuality.

“It is honestly very strange when this deviant wave, which is being defended by this group (Seksualiti Merdeka) as a human right, gets the direct and indirect support from many local NGOs, including the Bar Council,” she wrote in her column.

Umno’s Utusan Malaysia also recently accused Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of supporting homosexuality during an interview with BBC.

In the interview, the BBC reporter had reportedly asked Anwar whether he was prepared to push for the idea of anti-discrimination as far as gay rights were concerned, to which he had allegedly said “we will have to review some of our archaic laws.”

“We Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia generally believe and are committed to support the sanctity of marriage between men and women, but we should not be seen to be punitive and consider the archaic law as relevant,” Anwar had told BBC.

But he had also pointed out that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) did not support homosexuality, an excerpt of the interview which Utusan Malaysia did not include.

Anwar is now demanding a total of RM150 million in damages from the Umno daily for allegedly tarnishing his reputation in an article accusing him of being a gay rights proponent.

Malaysia Can Play Important Part In Creating New Growth Corridors, Says Najib

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 25 (Bernama) -- Malaysia can play an important part in expediting creation of a new growth corridor, encompassing China through Southeast Asia and India to the Middle East, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Wednesday.

In stressing the importance of the new corridor, he said the China-Asean-India-Middle East partnership would be able to create huge business and investment opportunities.

He said the launch of the Global Business Council was timely as it would be an effective means of bringing together business leaders and entrepreneurs not just from China, India, Asean and the Middle East but also from the Chinese diaspora around the world.

"This is our time and this is our opportunity. So let us capitalise on this momentous occasion in the world economic history and to ensure the 21st history is a century that is led by Asia," he said when speaking at a special conferment ceremony and launching of the World Chinese Economic Forum's Global Business Council.

Najib was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Chinese Economic Forum adviser, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, and the forum's patron, Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, at the event.

Najib was conferred the award in recognition of his bold measures and contributions to transform Malaysia, especially his ambitious economic transformation programme.

The prime minister said that in the current economic climate and with the Eurozone still in a precarious financial situation, "it falls to this part of the world -- the East -- particularly to China, india, Asean and the Gulf states -- to fuel the global recovery and to propel world economic growth.

"I'm not someone who is advocating the kind of age-old rivalry between the East and West but rather we should complement each other, but given the situation that we find ourselves today, Asia must lead the way," he said.

The Global Business Council, expected to further link business leaders and entrepreneurs from China, Southeast Asia, Australia and Europe, will also provide another platform for business ideas interchange, sharing of experiences and strengthening of relationship between countries in the regions.

"Open not only for the Chinese businessmen but for business personnel across all ethnic and nationality background, the council will also promote global corporate citizenship, corporate governance, business ethics and green growth," he said.

The Global Business Council will be headed by John So, the longest-serving Melbourne mayor.

Members of the council's International Advisory Panel include AirAsia's chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Public Bank co-chairman Tan Sri Thong Yaw Hong and other dignitaries from participating countries.

The Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI) will provide the secretariat support for the Global Business Council here, with the other branches to be established in China, Hong Kong, Europe, the United States and Australia.

Ceramah Anjuran Hindraf/ABU In Negeri Sembilan

Penang house prices becoming more unaffordable

Penang Island has a median house price to median income ratio – a common indicator of housing affordability – of 8.1, high by any standards and up from 6.8 five years ago.
Graph: Stuart MacDonald, Penang Institute
The current average housing price on the island is RM429440 while the median income on the island is RM52844. House prices on the island have risen by 50 per cent over the last five years. (Even on the mainland, prices have risen by 25-30 per cent over the last five years.)
For Penang state as a whole, the ratio is 5 (RM265010/RM52844) – up from 4 in 2006.
In contrast, the house price-to-income ratio for the USA was 3 until 2000, and then it rose to 5.8 by 2006, before the housing boom ended in an almighty bust. In the UK the ratio reached 11 in 2008, just before the credit crunch set in.
All the more reason for us to tread cautiously. The above figures are from an October 2011 research paper on ‘Supply and Demand in the Penang housing market: Assessing Affordability‘ published by Penang Institute.
Written by Stuart MacDonald, it makes for sobering reading and notes that house prices are becoming more and more unaffordable for more and more people.
Stuart has also come up with several recommendation on what can be done, including noteworthy recommendations to rebalance planning powers in favour of the state.
These are among the recommendations in his research paper ‘Drivers of house price inflation in Penang, Malaysia – planning a more sustainable future’:
Recommendation 3 – Reform planning powers to rebalance in favour of the state.
  • Policies can be easily developed to rebalance power in favour of the state, for example by requiring developers to fund the cost of independent consultants hired by local authorities, rather than directly funding them themselves, would remove the potential for conflicts of interest, promote truly “independent” studies, benefit the most professional consultancy firms and force the local authorities to develop the capacity to understand and scrutinise the studies presented, allowing a more strategic and holistic view to be taken.
  • A policy to regulate the process of “soft” launches can prevent developers selling properties to favoured purchasers, prior to general release, which forces up the price of property. The state can request the details of intended unit prices early in the development process and compare these with sales prices post launch to highlight developers that are restricting public access to units through their practices.
  • The state should publicly develop clear policies on issues such as land reclamation and hill cutting, with the public benefits of such policies clearly articulated. The state should also halt the process of converting leasehold land into freehold land (emphasis mine) (with exceptions where it may harm investment or economic development), until a clear policy has been developed which considers the long term benefits and risks to the state.
  • The amendment of regulations that prevent mixed commercial and residential development need urgent attention, as this is resulting in developments classifying its residential property as serviced apartments, which is also exempt of a requirement to provide a low-cost housing quota.
  • Greater clarity over the location of state land and assets (along with local authority owned land and assets) and communal lands is also required so that these may be managed for the benefit of the state with a longer term view.
Recommendation 4 – Review existing mechanisms for promoting affordable housing.
The state government, having developed the housing board, should initiate a review of all existing mechanisms for affecting the housing market in a way which would either raise revenue or reduce home ownership costs for those in middle to lower income groups or encourage developers and land owners to build housing appropriate to the needs of the people. Existing mechanisms, from density controls, to assessment rates should be reviewed, measured and evaluated in their total sum, understanding how one impacts upon another and assessing how progressive they are as forms of control or taxation, how feasible it may be to revise these mechanisms, taking into account the local context, cultural or historical and the political sensitivity of such reforms.
Touching on low-cost housing, Stuart notes in his paper:
Low cost housing must be provided in the same district as any developments led by the private sector, which should help to sustain property mix at the district level, but to what degree this is enforced in unclear. The low cost housing market is argued to have operated inefficiently, with developers being able to transfer and sell quotas, and the state allocation process also argued to be inefficient. Low cost housing developments are over represented in abandoned projects. Outsourcing the role of “social‟ housing provider to the private sector without sufficient controls from the public sector has resulted in an inefficient condition on private sector development. Conflicts of interest arise and private developers are driven to minimise their costs on low cost housing to protect their bottom line. The low cost housing market needs detailed examination.