‘I will do another project if govt wants to follow this concept’
That will subsidise the existing houses. But if there are losses, that means I will have to bear the losses.
Q: You are willing to give priority to the people and bear the losses yourself ?
A: I do not believe I will incur any losses, but if I do, I will bear the losses for the sake of the people.
Q: What is causing all these housing-related issues? Is the current system unsuccessful? A: I feel that houses are overpriced. If you compare the price of land with what it was 40 years ago, there will be vast differences.
In the past, the price of land in Taman Pelangi, Johor Baru, for instance, was less than 20 sen per sq ft.
Now, land in Taman Pelangi costs RM100 per sq ft.
That is the difference between then and now. So, perhaps this is why many cannot afford a house.
That is why the government is building affordable houses. Even so, I feel the price of the affordable house is still too high for some people.
They cannot afford to buy them, and instead can only afford to look at them.
Let me complete my project first, and we will see how it goes.
If the government wants to, say, follow the concept of the Sultan of Johor, I will, with all sincerity, build another project.
But the land premium must not be too high as I will bear all the costs, including the land cost.
Q: You said the dream house you are building is for all races. Is the Bumiputera quota system making it difficult for this to happen?
A: Sometimes, the Bumiputera quota cannot be applied.
The Bumiputera quota is for the Malays and Bumiputeras. If this quota is imposed for all affordable housing projects, Johor will not have high-end houses.
For example, in Johor Baru, if there were to be hotels and condominiums with five-star or seven-star ratings, and there is a Bumiputera quota imposed on them, developers will not be able to sell the properties.
Before developers build, they would have thought about who they would be selling to.
For me, I do not care who wants to buy it. I know many do not agree with what I am saying, but if you were to build a mixed highend housing project with an affordable housing project, even the cheaper houses become unaffordable.
You need to have balanced development. For example, if there is an iconic building in Johor Baru, do you think the Bumiputeras can afford it? No. How can they (afford it)? They cannot even afford to enter a seven-star hotel.
When Johor made a name for itself in other countries, many wanted to come here. They wanted to see Johor. They will stay in luxury hotels and condominiums, but there must be some leeway in the Bumiputera requirement.
It is a 40 per cent quota. Developers may be able to sell 60 (per cent) of the project, but the remaining 40 per cent cannot be sold until an appeal is made to the government.
It’s better for the government to build mixed developments for the Bumiputeras and set up a separate international zone.
Zoning is important, so the Bumiputeras can reside where they can afford to reside. It’s not that we want them to live in one place. No. Some places need zoning, while other places are not affected.
However, the land we have is freehold, not leasehold. In Johor, if the land is not freehold, we only need to pay a land premium to convert it to freehold.
It can be done as long as the premium is paid. An example is Forest City, where the government received about RM200 million to convert its status.
Now, it is freehold, but it was not before the developer paid the premium. It is not only for the Chinese nationals, but the concept is to go global because Johor is well-known in the world now and people will come here to look at and live in Johor.
Kuala Lumpur holds the top spot for the highest number of foreigners staying there, while Johor Baru is in the third spot for the most livable city in the region.
I want Johor Baru to be No. 1, with even more foreigners than Kuala Lumpur. It can be done, but we must work together to develop Johor. However, this cannot be done when there is political interference, when the opposition says we cannot do this and that.
We cannot be regressing, but must instead move towards progressing. We need to come to an agreement in order for us to achieve our goal.