BACKBENCHERS lashed out at Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd (SPNB) last week for failing to deliver homes to thousands of poor people in their constituencies under the Rumah Mesra Rakyat programme.
They criticised the government-backed company and even questioned if SPNB officials fed “inaccurate” data to Deputy Finance Minister Tengku Putera Tengku Awang, who was winding up the debate on the Housing Loans Fund Bill on Tuesday.
Tengku Putera was interrupted several times by MPs who were not satisfied with his replies to their questions.
“We have nothing personal against SPNB and we are not trying to belittle you (Tengku Putera) but the statistics you gave us – that 2,600 houses have been built under the programme – is incorrect because only about 400 houses have been built so far,” said Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN – Kinabatangan).
“We hope you will check your facts because we have done our own research,” he added.
Ismail Sabri Yaakob (BN – Bera) agreed with Bung Moktar, saying that as last month, only 105 units were completed while the remaining were under construction. So far, only about RM3mil of the RM100mil allocation had been used.
“Therefore, I think it is impossible to complete 2,600 units by next year although you say that RM100mil had been used up since some applications are being processed,” he added.
Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN – Ayer Hitam) proposed that the ministry order SPNB to prepare a post-mortem report to ensure that it was more serious in delivering homes to the poor.
Datuk Suhaili Abdul Rahman (BN – Labuan) said: “While we are in Hang Tuah’s camp, don’t let us be in Hang Jebat’s camp.
“We are Barisan Nasional MPs, we do not want to throw stones at the glass house. We are criticising out of sincerity to ensure that the Opposition has no room to gain political mileage.”
Eventually, Tengku Putera assured MPs he would take their views into consideration.
“That is why we appointed an MP as the new SPNB executive chairman (Datuk Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansur).
“I believe the company will play a major role in achieving our objective after this,” he said.
Lim Bee Kau (BN – Padang Serai) called on the ministry to instruct financial institutions to help buyers of abandoned commercial buildings by not charging interest.
She said the ministry should help these buyers while waiting for amendments to the Housing Act because the buyers had to pay instalments and interest although the projects were stalled.
On Wednesday, Speaker Tun Dr Mohamed Zahir Ismail allowed only 15 minutes for each MP to debate the Supplementary Supply Bill at policy stage and 10 minutes more each at the committee stage later.
Several MPs lamented the sorry state of remote areas that lacked basic amenities and called on the Government to provide more allocation to develop these areas.
Jimmy Donald (BN – Sri Aman) said he was embarrassed and bored by repeatedly stressing to Parliament that the rural areas of Sabah and Sarawak were still lacking in basic amenities such as electricity and water supply.
“I am sure the rakyat are bored too. We are lucky that they elected us.
“Hopefully, the Government will act quickly to correct the situation – and this is the last time I am touching on this issue,” he said.
Chong Eng (DAP – Bukit Mertajam) blamed government officials for poor implementation of Government plans.
A shouting match ensued between Datuk Badruddin Amiruddin (BN – Jerai) and several DAP MPs when Teresa Kok (DAP – Seputeh) complained that it was unfair the opposition MPs did not get development allocation for their constituencies.
Badruddin angered Teresa and other DAP MPs when he said this was because Barisan would have to give priority to its areas, citing a Malay proverb “Anak di rumah disusukan dulu barulah disusukan anak-anak kera” (feed your own child first then only feed the monkeys) to thumps from the backbenchers.
Chong Eng objected to his statement, saying that opposition MPs were also Malaysians and taxpayers while Fong Po Kuan (DAP – Batu Gajah) accused Badruddin of being extreme.
“Go and wash your brain. You have a Third World mentality,” she told Badruddin, who warned her not to utter hurtful remarks.
Ismail Harun (BN – Tangga Batu) stood up to explain that the actual proverb “Anak kera di hutan disusukan anak sendiri mati kelaparan” (while the monkey in the forest is nursed, your own child dies of starvation) meant that you should take care of your children first before helping others.
“Actually, I just want to remind you (Badruddin) that you have spoken for more than 30 minutes,” he said, cheekily prompting Deputy Speaker Datuk Dr Yusof Yakob to tell Badruddin to wind up his debate. However, Badruddin went on talking.
When Fong shouted at Badruddin, citing the Standing Order, for not following Dr Yusof’s order, Badruddin shouted back, calling her “mulut murai” (chatterbox) – which angered her even more.
She asked him to retract the statement but Dr Yusof told the House that mulut murai was a normal description of an individual and not harmful.
The House sits again tomorrow.