Soaring property prices: Profits vs Basic right to housing


This video, ‘M-C-M: Utopia milik siapa?’ explores how housing – a basic human right – has been turned into a commodity that earns fabulous profits for developers and banks while pushing homes beyond the reach of young working adults.

Political parties on both sides of the divide realise that the lack of ‘affordable housing’ is likely to be a key election issue. In response, their approach has been to point to their record in building such homes or to come up with fresh pledges to build more such homes in the coming years.

But does this go far enough – when it is the entire system that has turned affordable housing into a commodity that enriches bankers and developers, not to mention supporting professionals. As housing prices soar, many ordinary Malaysians find themselves priced out of the market or incurring unhealthy amounts of household debt through burdensome housing loans.

From easy loans to the building of high profit-margin homes targeted at the wealthy elite (both locals and foreigners), many young Malaysians find themselves pushed further out to the outskirts of of the city – where public transport to places of work is lacking.

So then they have to incur further expenses on petrol, toll and private motor vehicles to reach their places of work in the city.

Boon Kia Meng’s production also explores the possibility that we may be heading for a property bubble and points to some similarities with the situation in Spain.

Verdict: A fine effort by Kia Meng on an important social issue, worth the watch. Hopefully, this video will prompt Malaysians to ask political parties what they are going to do to revamp the system – so that once again, housing will be viewed as a basic human right and not a commodity to enrich developers and bankers at the expense of the people.

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  1. Agreed. Notice that most people are still sleeping, no matter which parties win. The issue of property overprice will be there as neither of them bother to cares. All they can do is making us having more debt.Its like postpone the issue for a greater issue in future. We are heading to a bubble soon.

  2. today when the world economy is bad, our leaders are telling us that if we don’t buy the properties now, the price will continue to go up. Something that is out of their control. The worst thing is that you are so dumb and stupid to believe it, wasting hundred of thousands on a property that has only an artificial value. You don’t even has the brain to buy cheap property around the world at fiction of the cost. Only know how to bemoan like a sick and very ill human soul. You has failed miserably by endorsing your stupid and dumb idol who has no solution but to enslave you forever. You call the coming election the fight of century, exciting over a false sense of victory. Unable to see how the future will affect your life drastically. You are at their mercy. You can’t even afford to buy the so called affordable home rolled out by our leaders. So you win in the coming election, but you will become poorer and your leaders become richer without you even realise about it.
    What a great victory! Want to celebrate it now?

  3. Darren, Wong Chun Wai is doing a great job of creating awareness of Penang heritage, whether inspired by me or not. There are those who had done it earlier like Khoo Salma, who inspired me in the 80s-90s.
    For me, it is not a foremost reason to compete or profit from such an endeavor, rather an inner passion for what I genuinely know intimately that money or politics cannot influence. You can see it in the works of those who truly pursue a passion with a mission.
    As it is now, I will continue creating works of art at my own pace (heritage & street hawker food museum posters, the ones uploaded in & & my future collection of paintings & drawings – Tunglang’s Expressions: X-plore, Relive, Conserve (Penang Heritage + Rainforest)

    Yes, Tunglang bemoans when something is not right. At least, I have the courage to speak out & not kowtow in silence.

    Cheers, Kopi-O kau kau.

  4. If you want to be rich join me. If you wan to be miserable then join Lim Guan Eng. The coming election I will launch my last campaign against the dumb politicians in this country as a thank you gesture before i finally left this country for good. The battle cry for the coming election will be Vote for change not Guan Eng.
    Lim Guan Eng will be remembered as the most dumb politician who make his supporters’ life miserable by artificially jack up the housing price.

  5. Most of you probably believe that my story is just a make believe lie. All of you have forgotten that US still hardly recovered from the foreclose housing crisis. There are plenty of prime properties in Canada remain unsold. If you have cash, you can buy up properties at less than 1/3 the original price. I only targeted at resort destinations to source for my properties. It is better than buy gold which the price almost reached it’s peak. Nothing more to gain. With the profit margin you will become rich beyond imagination. The next thing you need to do is sell the properties to hopeless Malaysians. Convince them that the politicians are all out to screw up their life that they have no future. They will treat you like a savior and buy whatever properties you recommended.
    All this can be easily achieve when I show you how my children get subsidized education, proper medication, sustainable life style and driving big car at cheap cheap price. It will be especially truth when you witness how I swallow lobster,scallop,mussel, oyster, gypsum, wild berries ,smoked salmon,cod, wine and endless alcohol while you makan ikan bilis to strengthen your bones to ready for endless fight against the stupid and dumb politicians that ruin your life.

  6. RM40,000 you can only buy a poverty stricken slum like Green Garden at Paya Terumbung. You want to buy a bungalow with 4 bedrooms, it will cost you probably RM4 million. You want a decent home, you need to fork out at least RM400,000 to buy the so called affordable home. How many of you have the EPF’s saving of half a million? Even if you have the money, after purchase the affordable home, what is there left for you to survive for the rest of your retirement life? Our politicians told us that every where in the world, the price of property is going up. Do you believe that? Yes! Yes! Yes! You do! But for me, it is No! No! No!
    That is why I use RM40,000 to buy me a 4 bedrooms bungalow in a world no. 2 renowned resort town. I use another RM90,000 to buy a 27 acres of waterfront prime land. After spending RM130,000, I still have RM370,000 left for my retirement fund.
    All I need to do is spend another RM4,000 to buy a two way ticket and fly to the home where I still have my dignity and integrity as a human being remain intact.

  7. As a non resident, I can buy a piece of land of over 27 acre in canada with down payment of USD1000 and monthly installment of USD415 for 10 years. The land is a water front prime land which I totally can’t afford in Malaysia. My EPF’s total saving of half a million is not sufficient for me to buy even the so called affordable home in Penang island. It is better that I migrate to Canada to start a new life as a timber planter. This coming election will be the last time I cast my vote. I might even boycott the election in protest of the hijack of my vote for change.
    Malaysia is hopeless, it is too expensive to live. There is no future for my children nor for my self. With all the dumb and stupid politicians out there to screw up everything. It is time for me to do what my ancestors knew best; migrate to a better pasture.
    Time for me to relax in a property with incredible unobstructed panoramic views of the magnificent Bras d’Or Lakes. There I will plant Paulownia for timber to be used for the local boating industry. The land I intend to purchase is a perfect deep anchorage for boats ranging in size from 14′ feet long all the way to 250’+ feet long.
    This is what I call life. Free from slavery by the third world mentality. You can continue to fight in this Bolehland, I choose to surrender and run away.

  8. It seems many people here still failed to grasp the idea how the country money supplies jack up the price of house, goods, foods, AKA INFLATION.

    Property,goods alone, just CANNOT CAUSE INFLATION. It is the oversupply of money that cause inflation.

    It is the government CREATE abstract money (Printing it) and buy goods, pay government servant salaries using the ADVANCE money. It is similar like “buying” stuff using credit card , but printing money is way better than credit card borrowing, it DEVALUE the money.

    It is plain common sense in purchase power.
    Imagine there is 1000 $1 and there is 10,000 eggs around, when both side settle, i.e., $1 for 10 eggs, then the value of money is equal to 10 eggs, not otherwise. And along the way, people will produce different goods to exchange , and money is just an convenient medium. If the market produce more stuff, the money will become limited, so printing money to “buy” all this OVER SUPPLY/OVER PRODUCTION is good to float the economy, e.g. printing extra $100 from month to month to cope with the supplies

    HOWEVER, what if government instead of increase money volume following the production, print TONS of money for the sicks for cronies to “get rich quick”? Imagine in a market that still exchanging limited $1000 and sufficient for all production, now gomen go print 19000 $1 notes and give it to cronies, and since cronies did little in production (like rearing cow in apartment), the market still stuck with supplies of 10,000 eggs.

    But for money sense, there is 20,000 $1 in the market. Since money is easy for cronies, so they decide to buy egg 10 eggs for $50. So you see easily see the different, 10 eggs price suddenly shoot up from $1 to $50.

    This is no different in property market. And that’s how Soros and many international speculator find out vulnerabilities of Asean government abuse the monetary system. You don’t need a “Award winning bnm Zeti ” to tell you that, Maha-the-ir is flooding Bolehland (TM) with too money money that the production cannot compensate to stabilise the goods value.

    And the rest is history.

    IMHO talking about “properties supplies” is pretty none-sense if one cannot get the concept rights. Those government politikus just laugh to the way of the bank when pathetic people chasing the tails of “properties supplies”, properties is not cheap enough.

  9. No matter what Najib is promising any idiot knows that is an empty promise, BN was in control of Penang for so many decades, the housing shortage problem just did not happen in the last few years. Ice was not frozen from water the minute you need it ? It takes time to freeze ice from water, just like houses from the raw materials they nee time to have them planned and time to build, Najib you had all these for so many decades yet nothing was done about housing need in the island.
    Now you have the audacity to promise affordable housing for the people, if Umno/BN is returned to power ? It is so obvious that it is yet another EMPTY promise of yours especially only after BN was kicked out of the state. In desperation, now you just made this empty promise without thinking of the consequences of your promise. How many promises have you and all your BN cronies in the past several decades made this same promise plus so many others before an election and never kept the promise, once you are in the driver’s seat ? You and your empty promises, just like all the other empty promises you made before, they are meant to be broken. These are especially so when they are made by you and your cronies especially when they are made before an election.
    Therefore stop telling us you are now more serious than before and also this is one of the kind of transformations you are talking about ! The people can promise you the majority you want if you dare to have the shenanigan Mahathir indicted for the abuses … he committed in the 22 years as P.M. !

  10. This has gone far enough. We are a nation of only 28 million with more then ample land. The culprits are developers and very very very importantly banks who use almost 80% of their lending portfolio on property instead of building businesses. The other culprits are of course the local councils and states under whom the purview of land falls. The BN has failed miserably because they cannot rein in the developers and they themselves are blackmailed by our bankers. They can’t even pass a simple law to cut off speculators who buy enbloc rows of terrace houses and shoplots.

    The incoming PR government must put a stop to this. You cannot bully an average citizen like this and making him a debtor all his life and probably by the way the economy is moving, probably the buyer will fail in his monthly payments, house will get auctioned and the buyer made bankrupt.

    As long this housing and transport problem is not solved, no government will be safe in power. It is disappointing that Selangor who control land has decided to delve into the property market to showcase a surplus budget.

    Housing is a basic necessity. If you can’t provide it, get out of government.

    • Housing is a basic need of every human, irrespective of class & creeds.
      But it has turned into a gambling chip where the average Malaysians now cannot afford to take a risk (servicing a bigger loan without defaulting payments) or to actually own a home until it is fully paid for by the end of probably 35 years of loan or at worst paid for by next generation.
      Q: How many Malaysians are in the 1% rich & wealthy?
      Q: Why not build for the 99% Malaysians who comprise the middle class, lower middle & the poor?
      The consequence of this highly skewed home development for the richie is reduced home ownership, increased debts & increase of landlords lording over the renters. It will not be surprising Malaysia will be back to the days of Feudalism where the rich gets richer, the poor gets poorer.
      Where is the political will to correct this abysmal state of affair?
      If gomen can control prices of some goods & services, why not housing? Leave the foreign buyers / investors out of the equation if attracting investors (of homes) is the prime motive of gomen to showcase inflow of foreign investment sans social responsibility to the locals. Home investment by foreigners as vacation homes are not economically productive factors but wastage of space nor are they creating wealth & employment like manufacturing.

      Cheers Kopi-O kau kau to more ‘Arab Springs’ revolutions all over the world.

      • PR1MA housing for the poor. You can try to befriend MCA or Gerakan to try your luck for one unit.

      • To build a bungalow in US or Canada, the typical cost is from USD40,000 to USD70,000 depend on the type of house and the size you want to build. This is excluding the cost of land. Why in western country, a custom built home is cheaper than Malaysia? What is wrong with us? Guan Eng thought if he build more high end properties, he is developing Penang. The truth is end of the day, almost all the developers will suffer heavily from his wanton approval for housing projects. The number one crony of Lim Guan Eng, now can’t even afford to pay salary to his staffs. With majority of the project unsold and some facing technical problem due to soil erosion, this guy who used to threaten Penangites that they won’t be able to cari makan in Penang, suddenly found he himself unable to cari makan anymore.
        I expect to see 90% of the properties projects suffer from property overhang. I expect to see existing high rises degrade over the years due to poor maintenance.
        I expect to see majority of the high rises suffer from the inability to collect maintenance and service charges. I expect this problem to become out of hand and create big headache to the state government.
        I expect to see that we suffer from serious land shortage in the future due to the wanton wastage of our limited land resources by Lim Guan Eng.
        I expect to see Penangites in particular reduce to a modern slave for housing and car.
        Good luck to all of you for voting for Guan Eng not changes when I ask you to do the reverse; vote for change not Guan Eng.

    • JK,

      Bankruptcy is not a PR or BN issue. Our monetary system is such that bankruptcy cannot be avoided. The problem is INTEREST!

      Imagine the world only have 3 people. 1 banker and 2 loaners. Banker creates money through loans but only 1 loaner will be able to pay back principle + interest. The money for interest was never created or exist in the first place.

  11. Without TONS of Money supplies (AKA printing money) , there is not enough fuel to jack up the properties bubbles.

    And that’s how Keynesian economics play along. Unfortunately, the real economic are way beyond Keynesianism, the model COLLAPSE and explode in front of everyone.

  12. Mah Sing’s catalog that is given free with newspaper showcasing all it’s housing projects, but none is in the affordable category. Blame who?

  13. When the housing industry gets ‘hijacked’ by wannabe who’s-who-developers in Forbes Mag & false-financial ‘mirage’ promotions by croc tearing O’Blady banks & compounded further by straitjacketed state gomen / local authorities, what used to be a manageable social need has now become a rich men’s commodity traded & gambled no different from Genting Highland’s sleepless casino roulettes.
    Home investment gurus can give glowing pictures of wealth creation of limitless possibilities, but they have to bear in mind (responsibly) the inflationary effect of artificial price spiral. No wonder one hears ecstatic expressions at investment talks of home building & investing as the rich men’s career of the 21st century.
    No thanks to our ‘cheap’ Ringgit, the allure of massive profit in the shortest time from foreign buyers has created a “Utopia market” mental-fantasy in the quickie-profiteering minds of greedy developers as shown in the housing industry of seeming perpetual boom, boom, boom in high ticket homes beyond the reach of the middle class.
    The developers-bankers-agents-gurus triad can easily manipulate the market forces at their wimps & fancies, notwithstanding stringent laws to curb speculation & gamble on housing. The latest trend is exclusive club membership where an investor can own a green home, earn profits plus the added class asset of a club membership.

    If one is not earning 3-5K a month, the dream of home ownership within bearable distance to workplace or business is but a far-fetched dream. But town planners & developers don’t take that into consideration but fixated their sleepless eyes entirely on cash rich foreign buyers from HK, Taiwan, China, Indonesia (Acheh), Singapore & Australia. That they unashamedly call pure market demand & supply mechanism while fixating their slots in Forbes Mag. In reality, it is attracting unbridled ‘foreign colonization’ of local housing, which these developers will wash their hands clean from any blame in the event of possible social discontentment / unrest should the dire straits scenario finally burst.

    It all boils down to GREED, FEAR & MANIPULATION (of perception, market fundamentals & pricing). At worst, it will bring about a materialistic caste system based on class assets, net worth & earning power.

    Hor ee puah, lu koi lu ho.
    Let the property bubble burst, the sooner the better for Negara Cinta Ku.

    • tunglang

      Are you echoing the view of Dr Ernest Cheung who had said in the video that the property bubble will burst in 9 months?

      Couple with the expected sharp decline in KL stock market after GE13, we should get ready our hard cash to buy low to sell high later!

      • Wong Chun Wai could be inspired by tunglang to start reminiscing about old Penang in his Saturday column on The Star. With old tales and pictures of Gurney Drive and Canarvon Street so far, he is quite ahead in publishing a book of nolstagic Penang while tunglang still bemoaning his housing woes with kopi ah huat kau kau?

      • George, read my earlier numerous comments on Penang properties articles in which have highlighted many of what I wrote here including the dizzy reach for a slot in Forbes Mag.

      • George, if you have hard cash don’t ever buy any property in Malaysia. Go to Canada source for properties at world renowned resort destination. You can buy property at less than 1/3 of original price. For example i purchased a 4 bedroom bungalow and use it as a collateral to secure a loan to buy land, the bank evaluate my house based on market value of USD40000 when i purchased it with USD12,000.
        Today my properties in Canada worth USD100,000 when i only invested with hard cash of USD12,000.
        No economy guru can give you a better tips than i do. This year i reach 50 years old. I can withdraw my epf account 1 money. That already give me enough cash to buy cheap properties at world renown resort destinations. The next thing i will do is rent out my house at USD600 per month and continued to source for properties near renowned universities or renowned resort destinations. Invest USD12,000 for a monthly USD600 return is too real to believe.
        In Penang island the rental is of no value, why let your self struck in this poorly managed country. You don’t need to be a citizen to buy property in Canada. Canada government eventually will force you to take the citizenship when your properties reach certain threshold. After that you can apply for US green card easily. I only concentrate my investment at resort destination near the border of US. Now with the economy is bad, the americans only go to nearby destination for holiday in order to save cost. That will help you to rent out your properties easily.

      • As property prices generally heat up globally, there are already some concerted restrictions by concerned countries to stabilize / protect / bring sanity to their local housing industry. Limitations on foreigners like restriction to buying of agricultural lands, withholding tax on rentals, larger down payments, restriction to one unit, etc have reversed some of the ill-effects.
        Reported figures by industry associations and media as varied as 3.5 per cent & 20 per cent for the percentage of housing sales that involve buyers from outside Canada have shown the dire effects on local housing prices. What if the % goes higher without any gomen intervention?
        Is property value (price) alone the cause of price spiral in a laissez faire economy? I beg to differ.
        Rather the combine factors of speculation, suppliers’ (of raw materials, lands, developers, architects, planners, agents) exceedingly higher fees & jack-up costs (even before pilling starts or S&P signed) in anticipation of higher demands from cash rich buyers, ease of money supply & ineffective laws by revenue-hungry gomen without a care for the local housing needs but self aggrandizement in showcase cosmopolitan development of unsustainable path.

      • no big deal. the restriction is imposed on certain areas where the Chinese love the most. I only invest on place where the americans love the most. See the world has what you call double standard. There is total no restriction at all for places near US border to facilitate Americans to buy the properties. These areas are the one that have most potential. The place “I invested i doubt there is any chinese there. May be i am the first one. Anyway better make your move fast before it is too late. At least i won’t high spreed internet compared to Belum forest. Guan Eng will still has his nightmare as i am just a click away.


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