Still waiting for dream home

  • Business
  • Saturday, 18 Jul 2009

ALL that Gevanantham Marimuthu (Geva) wanted was to move into his dream home in a “botanical township” which he had bought at Lembah Beringin, located at the fringes of Tanjung Malim, approximately 50km away from Kuala Lumpur. Sadly, he’s been waiting to do that for 10 years.

Today, Geva, alongside some 2,000 buyers of properties in that area, are still in the dark on the status of the project.

The project’s developer was a subsidiary of Land & General Bhd (L&G), Lembah Beringin Sdn Bhd. Lembah Beringin has been under receivership since 2005.

L&G was badly hit during the Asian financial crisis in 1997/98 and only two years ago a new shareholder, Mayland, emerged as a key shareholder in the company.

Geva is the chairman of the Lembah Beringin House Buyer’s Association, a group comprising the victims of the Lembah Beringin project. “We were supposed to have received our dream homes by 1998 and 1999. When the time drew nearer, we received evasive answers,” he laments. Geva bought the house for RM210,000 and has been servicing the loan since 1998 up until 2006.

“I stopped paying because I did not see why we should be paying for something that we did not own,” he says, unfazed by the potential consequences.

“I actually want the bank to take me to court,” Geva says, in sheer frustration. The project was, at the early stages, touted as a botanical township comprising mixed residential, commercial and institutional developments including an 18-hole public golf course. (The golf course has been completed and is quite popular over the weekends).

He says just over 2,300 units were launched, of which over 80% were sold and some 60% have been completed and ready for occupation while 962 units were abandoned. Of the abandoned units, about 649 have been sold, he says. Geva says everyone was left in a state of disarray and unsure of the proper recourse or solutions.

“Fortunately for us, the National House Buyers Association offered to help and through its mediation, we met up with the authorities from the Housing and Local Government Ministry. However, despite numerous meetings with the ministry, many issues have yet to be resolved,” he says.

“The focus of all those meetings was primarily on the viability of rehabilitating the township and not so much on the social and economic welfare of the buyers,” he laments.

When contacted, L&G confirmed that Lembah Beringin Sdn Bhd is under receivership but declined further comment. A spokesman for Ferrier Hodgson MH Sdn Bhd, the receivers and managers of Lembah Beringin, said it has been looking for a buyer since 2005 to revive the project. “We are close,” he says.

FOR Christopher John and many other aggrieved buyers of the abandoned Bandar Golden Valley Golf Resort in Jasin, Melaka, the road towards finding a solution has been long and gruelling.

The resort township, valued at a reported RM380mil started out as a joint-venture between Yeng Chong Realty Sdn Bhd and MBSB Development Sdn Bhd (MBSB), a unit of listed Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB), which is a subsidiary of the Employees Provident Fund.

Construction was to begin in 1999 and it primarily involved bungalow lots with a starting price of RM69,000 onwards.

According to Christopher, the properties were supposed to be handed over (to the purchasers) in 2002 but it never happened.

“When some of us decided to visit the site in Jasin, we were shocked to find nothing but an oil palm estate! It remains like this until today,” he laments.

He is peeved that no one has offered to provide a clear picture or explanation of what was happening. “This went on for years, with no one giving a straight answer as to what was truly happening. Purchasers were being kept in the dark, but we were still being told to continue to pay,” Christopher says.

When contacted, an MBSB spokesperson said that its role in the project was to provide financing while Yeng Chong would develop the land. However, things did not happen as planned due to some “issues” and the project failed to take off. It is further believed that MBSB is taking legal action against the developer. A small group of buyers have formed the Bandar Golden Valley Action Committee (BGVAC) to coordinate its actions. Recently, with the help and advice of the National House Buyers Association, the committee met up with the Public Complaints Bureau, bringing together Yeng Chong, MBSB and the purchasers for the first time.

Unfortunately, he says that there has been no further meetings. “Nothing has been settled and the situation is a stalemate”, says Christopher. However, the MBSB spokesperson says it is planning to have another meeting with the buyers and developer to find “an amicable solution.”

“The BGVAC comprises about 80 people. We want to reach out to the other buyers who are probably still paying and don’t know that the project has been abandoned.

We also want our money back – at market value and with interest. I think it is only fair,” Christopher says.

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