YB Dato’ Seri Kong Cho Ha
Minister Of Housing And Local Government
YB Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui
Minister Of Energy, Green Technology & Water
YBhg Dato’ Ahmad Fuad Ismail
Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur
YBhg Dato’ Fd Iskandar
Rehda 39th Anniversary Dinner
YBhg Datuk Ng Seing Liong
YBhg Dato’ Jeffrey Ng Tiong Lip
Rehda Immediate Past President
Rehda Patrons And National Council Members
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First and foremost I would like to express my congratulations to the Real Estate and Housing Developer’s Association of Malaysia on the occasion of REHDA’s Malaysia 39th Anniversary.
The Association has certainly come a long way from its inception nearly four decades ago. Today REDHA is a key partner of the Malaysian government in the quest of making Malaysia a home owning democracy. I would like to thank all committee members of REHDA Malaysia, both past and present for their contributions to the nation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The housing and property market as all other sectors of the economy has had its shares of ups and downs. At this time last year the sector was riding high on the momentum from the first two quarters of the year but today we are faced with the reality of the deepest downturn in the global economy since the depression era.
The Government takes cognizance that the housing sector is indeed a key industry in generating domestic demand, more so in an economic downturn, as proven in past experiences. It is on this basis that the Government has provided numerous incentives to the industry to help shore up the economy. Among others, a total of RM400 million had been allocated in the two stimulus packages to build some 13,000 “rumah mesra rakyat”. In addition, the Government has also allowed for tax relief on housing loan interest of up to RM10, 000 for three years in the 2009 Budget to stimulate the industry and ease buyers’ burden. The Government welcomes REHDA’s feedback on the progress and effectiveness of these two packages.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Government had set into motion various initiatives to transform the Malaysian economy from an upper middle-income developing economy into a high income developed economy within a decade. The sustained development and growth of the housing industry is indeed critical towards realising this objective. This is centred on the fact that the housing industry is people-centric, utilizes substantive local content and by virtue of it having a high multiplier effect given its cross-linkages to some 140 related industries.
Whilst we have in the last four decades, made great strides in enhancing the living standards of Malaysians by developing a first class infrastructure, we certainly need to do more to ensure a more sustainable and progressive future. Towards this goal, we need the full co-operation and commitment of the private sector our partners in nation building.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Our challenge as a nation is to realise a better and more prosperous future for all Malaysians. Thus far Malaysia has made the transformation from an agriculture economy to an industrial economy. Along the way we have managed to increase the living standards of millions of Malaysians bringing them out from the depth of poverty and hopelessness into the ranks of the middle class and within the embrace of the Malaysian dream.
This is only the first phase of our development stage; my administration is committed towards a better future for all Malaysians, a future of plenty, of full employment, of high wages and a quality of life equal to that of a developed nation. In order to move forward to the next level Malaysians need to shed dogmatically and rigidly held assumptions and beliefs whilst wholeheartedly embracing reform and change. It is said that the definition of insanity is doing things the same way over and over again while expecting different results. Let us not fall into this abyss.
Our only way forward as a nation is to embrace a new economic model based on creativity, innovation and high value. It is a national imperative to shift our reliance and dependence on semi skilled and low cost labour to a high tech manufacturing and modern services sector staffed by skilled and knowledge workers.
The housing and property sector must embrace and strategically position the industry to thrive in this new economic model. Granted such a change in direction cannot happen overnight as it requires fundamental changes and above all a mindset overhaul. The government will continue to provide the necessary, conducive environment to facilitate this quantum leap. The recent deregulation of the Foreign Investment Committee (FIC) Guidelines bears testimony to the Government’s commitments to make the necessary changes required to ensure pragmatic and practical policies are adopted to support the country’s sustained growth and position it competitively.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The country’s private housing sector is unique in many ways. It is about the only industry that is not a pure economic venture but also bears the responsibility of fulfilling the nation’s social reengineering agenda. Through its low cost, low medium cost and medium cost housing policies, as well as Bumiputera quota and discounts, the industry has played a very crucial part in meeting not only the rakyat’s homeownership aspirations but also playing a socio economic role.
I thank the industry for its perseverance and commitment throughout the years and the support that you have lent to the public sector. Let me assure you again that we hear your cries loud and clear and the Government, through its Economic Planning Unit, is studying the most feasible and sustainable model for the country’s social housing goals where the lower income group is assured of continuous access to quality and affordable homeownership with proper facilities and amenities. It is timely that the Government looks into a total revamp of the current system and comes up with a new winning formula for all parties involved so that the social agenda continues to be realised in tandem with the growth and progress of the private sector.
In regard to the woes concerning the release mechanism of unsold Bumiputera quotas which have plagued the industry for many years I would like to urge the relevant State Authorities to study this problem objectively so that a long term solution can be found. Whilst the Government stands firm on the issue of social justice, it is in cognizant that holding on to Bumiputera quota units where the demand is lacking is proving to be problematic for developers. Certainly it is not the Government’s intent to burden the industry unnecessarily and an expedient resolution to the problem will help the industry move forward and promote further re-investment for the benefit of the economy.
As a responsive Government, we welcome consultations with the private sector, particularly REHDA, in finding comprehensive solutions to various long-standing issues and challenges faced by the industry. In this regard, we welcome proposals for improvement that could facilitate the industry in embracing the new economic model as well as specific proposals to boost demand and market activities in these trying times so that Malaysians can continue to afford better living environment.
That being said the industry on its part must continue to carry out its role of providing affordable and quality housing for the nation in an efficient and effective manner. In today’s challenging environment, let us not only look at addressing short-term vulnerabilities but also long term competitiveness of the industry and the economy. In supporting this strategy, research and development, creativity, innovation and the adoption of new technologies will need to be the new industry buzzwords.
The industry needs to develop new products and concepts that bring added value to the nation in a more efficient, sustainable and highly economic manner. The importance of training and improvement of human skills cannot be over emphasized and I am pleased to note that REHDA had taken steps in the right direction in providing training to the industry through its education arm, REHDA Institute.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On this note, I take this opportunity to congratulate REHDA again on the occasion of its 39th Anniversary. The major part of today’s built environment is attributed to members of REHDA, and the 4 million units of houses built for the rakyat over the last thirty nine years is in itself a major milestone worthy of celebration. Nevertheless, let us all remember that there are still lots of work to be done, lots of quality housing to be built, so I wish all of you every success in housing the nation for many years to come.