Johor's controversial property and housing bill passed

Johor's controversial property and housing bill passed

JOHOR BARU - The controversial Johor Real Property and Housing Board Bill 2014 was passed by the State Legislative Assembly after 10 amendments were made to the original draft.

The Bill was passed after all 38 Barisan Nasional representatives voted for it with the 18 Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen abstaining.

Only 29 votes were needed to pass the Bill.

Eight speakers - five from Barisan and three from Pakatan - debated the Bill for almost two and a half hours before it was passed at 5.20pm.

There were at least five attempts by Pakatan assemblymen to delay passage of the Bill but all their motions were either rejected by speaker Datuk Mohamad Aziz or defeated when put to the vote.

The Bill was the last to be put forward after two other Bills were tabled, debated and passed.

A controversy erupted after provisions of the Bill were made known last week, followed by calls for it to be pulled back or revised.

Under the 10 amendments to the final, the Johor Sultan will now act on the advice of the Mentri Besar, and clauses which only mentioned the Ruler before were either revised to include the state authorities or have them replace the Ruler.

One concern before the amendments was that the Bill would empower the Ruler to appoint board members, oversee its accounts and also dissolve the board.

Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar would have also been able to determine the remuneration of board members, approve the appointment of a director and pass the estimated expenses for each following year before seeking the state government's approval for the allocations.

At a press conference later, Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin said he hoped the passing of the Bill would end all doubts raised by various quarters on the stand of the state government especially in defending constitutional monarchy.

"We went ahead despite some quarters wanting the Bill not to be put up as there was a need for it to address all the housing issues in the state.

"The Ruler has been informed of all the amendments to the Bill and he has no problems with them," he said, adding that the Johor Constitution clearly states that the executive power lies with the people elected by the people and the Ruler acts on advice.

"This is an important Bill for Johor and I wish to thank all the parties for their cooperation. Some of the comments made were by those who did not know the issue or were confused," he said, adding that other laws could be amended as and when the need arose.

Mohamed Khaled said the state government would now focus on building more affordable homes and help overcome the housing issues faced by the people.

"We expect the new housing board to be operational by March next year," he said, hoping that Barisan assemblymen would, in the mean time, explain the Bill to the people.

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