MPs call for Dec 16 rally against property tax hike

Residents of the Seputeh suburb protesting against the assessment rate hike. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Residents of the Seputeh suburb protesting against the assessment rate hike. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — Opposition lawmakers in the Federal Territories urged property owners in the city today to rally on December 16 against a proposed increase of the assessment rate for Kuala Lumpur real estate.

The seven Pakatan Rakyat (PR) FT MPs said that Putrajaya’s extension of the feedback period, which was to end on December 17, to March next year, was not sufficient and that the revised rates should be implemented “properly”.

“We ask residents to gather and submit their objection letters together on December 16,” Batu MP Chua Tian Chang told reporters at the Parliament lobby here today, adding that the rally will be held at the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) in the city centre.

The proposed increase in assessment rates had outraged the public, and even Umno FT leaders, over the past few weeks, after homeowners received notices from DBKL informing them of a hike of between 100 and 250 per cent to their existing annual rates.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor clarified separately today that the hike in assessment rates will proceed as planned in January.

But he stressed that assessment payments can be deferred to after the DBKL holds hearings on objections for at least three months, following the December 17 deadline to receive objection letters.

Tengku Adnan’s latest remarks on the matter may spark further confusion over the controversial plan to increase the property tax that will impact hundreds of thousands of homeowners and businesses.

Chua, also known as Tian Chua, said before Tengku Adnan’s remarks were reported today, that the increased rates may be implemented on July 1, while Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai said that the three-month extension period, which was announced by Deputy Federal Territories Minister Loga Bala Mohan yesterday, is for hearings to be conducted, and not to receive objections.

Titiwangsa MP Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani
Titiwangsa MP Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani

Tan said that the hearing period from January to March was not sufficient for DBKL to hear all objections, especially if objection letters were to exceed 200,000.

“Each individual must be heard,” he said.

Wangsa Maju MP Dr Tan Kee Kwong estimated that at least 200,000 objection letters will be filed before December 17.

“The energy minister announced a 10 to 20 per cent hike in TNB tariffs next year. How are people going to cope? We know that rates need to be revised, but do it properly,” he said.

Chua encouraged Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers in the Federal Territories, namely Setiawangsa MP Datuk Ahmad Fauzi Zahari and Titiwangsa MP Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani, to join the December 16 rally.

“We welcome people from Setiawangsa and Titiwangsa as well, the whole of KL,” said the PKR vice-president.

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok urged all KL property owners to submit their written objections to DBKL, as the Local Government Act 1976 states that those who are dissatisfied with the local authority’s decision can only appeal to the High Court if they have filed their objections.

“If they want to bring this to court, they can’t, unless there are objection letters,” Kok said at the press conference in Parliament.

The seven PR MPs at today’s press conference were Kok, Chua, Tan Kok Wai, Dr Tan Kee Kwong, Dr Tan Seng Giaw (Kepong), Nurul Izzah Anwar (Lembah Pantai) and Lim Lip Eng (Segambut).

Officials from the ministry and City Hall have explained earlier that the hike was necessary to raise funds to cover the cost of improving services provided by the local authority, while also considering the fact that this would be the first hike after 21 years.

Johari said yesterday that civic leaders were agreeable to an increase to the assessment rate, but not at the exorbitant levels as indicated in the notices.

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