Broken promises: Long-suffering house buyers host Raya open house in ‘sick housing project’

Buyers and their families gathering together in a solemn mood as they host their Aidilfitri open house in an incomplete house at the Sentoria Borneo Samariang Garden.

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By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, May 5: It was yet another disheartening Hari Raya Aidilfitri for buyers who bought houses in the troubled Sentoria Borneo Samariang Garden Phase 7 housing project, as some of them hosted a “rumah terbuka” (open house) today in one of the incomplete houses.

The project was originally supposed to be completed in 2019.

Three years after the originally set completion date, the housing project is a desolate sight, overgrown with tall grass and studded with incomplete house structures.

Despite the situation that the buyers and their families are currently in, it did not prevent them from trying to stir up the Raya spirit by bringing a variety of Hari Raya cookies and beverages to share with everyone and adorning the location with string lights.

Nevertheless, the atmosphere was sombre as “makciks” (middle-aged women) and children sat and ate solemnly on a mat laid on the bare cement.

According to Abdul Rahman Abdul Hamid, 33, who had purchased a house in the abandoned Sentoria housing project, construction work on the house he bought in 2018 has been long neglected. In September 2021, buyers received a letter from the developer stating that construction would begin in Quarter 4 (Q4) 2021, but there has been no progress.

“There have been previous negotiations between buyers and the developer, but there has been no news or progress from them since then,” he told the media whom he had invited for his Hari Raya Open House.

The price for Abdul Rahman intermediate house when it was offered by the developer was RM218,800.  He had paid his bank housing loan for two years while other buyers had paid for three years, with the majority paying more than RM1,000 per month for each house, depending on the unit type.

To Abdul Rahman’s knowledge, phases in the project which have been abandoned encompass Phases 4, 5, and 7, and Spectra 1 and 2.

“We have dealt with the developer directly before this, but their Kuching office has ‘disappeared’.

“They have a branch in West Malaysia and are based in Kuantan.

“We primarily communicated with them via WhatsApp and phone calls, as their Kuching branch has since closed,” he explained when asked if the buyers had followed up with the developer while waiting for the Sentoria housing project to progress.

The developer’s Kuching office, Abdul Rahman said, was previously located at a shoplot in Bandar Baru Samariang, but relocated to the Borneo Samariang Water Park, and that since the water park’s closure, there has been no word from them.

“They promised to keep us updated on the progress of the Sentoria housing project once their company’s account was unfrozen,” stated Abdul Rahman.

Abdul Rahman holding a site plan of the Sentoria housing project.

Frustrated, as the Sentoria housing project should be completed this year, based on the developer’s agreement, Abdul Rahman and some affected house owners as well as their families decided to hold their Hari Raya Celebration here, despite the desolate sight of nothing more than concrete walls and a floor.

What was worse, due to Covid-19 pandemic, Abdul Rahman said there are a few buyers who have requested for loan payment deferral but positive outcomes are far from certain.

“The buyers’ representative, the developer, and the local authorities met for a meeting on October 3, 2020.  The issue was supposed to be resolved then when a statement was issued stating that three months were given to settle the issue, but it is now 2022.

“I hope that this issue is resolved as soon as possible because it has been dragging on for far too long. It must be resolved because we, the buyers, are suffering and incurring financial losses. Some of us are also currently living in rented houses,” said Abdul Rahman when asked to comment on Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg’s statement today that the Sarawak government would take over the Borneo Samariang Garden project to resolve buyer issues.

As a more sensitive issue, Abdul Rahman said some buyers purchased these houses for their parents to live with them and until now, it remained a dream which they were not certain whether it will be materialised.

Meanwhile, Abang Johari announced today that the government will take over the troubled Sentoria Borneo Samariang Garden housing project from the developer to assist buyers in resolving their issues, as he is aware of the situation and has warned the developer. — DayakDaily