Najib says rules on corporate bonds, foreign ownership eased
Sultan has more power under Housing Board Bill
EXCLUSIVE The Johor government will table an enactment in the state assembly on Monday to set up a housing and real property board that will empower the Sultan of Johor to appoint the board members, oversee its accounts and even dissolve the board.
Although this is not the first state enactment to deal with housing in Malaysia, it is the first to provide such far-reaching powers to the ruler of a state.
The Johor Housing and Real Property Board Bill 2014 aims to form a board to promote and undertake the development of housing and real property in Johor.
Johor state executive councillor Abd Latiff Bandi, who in charge of housing and local government, confirmed with Malaysiakini that the state will table the Bill for first reading at the ongoing state assembly sitting the coming Monday.
Copies of the Bill have been distributed to all Johor assemblypersons, Abd Latiff said.
According to the Bill, the Johor Housing and Real Property Board will be chaired by the menteri besar, with the exco member responsible for the housing and local government as the deputy.
The other five members of the board are to be the state secretary, state legal adviser, state financial officer, director of the Johor Rural and Urban Planning Department and the director of state Economic Planning Unit.
Section 4 of the enactment will allow the sultan to appoint four persons, at the most, as members of the board for no more than two years and be reappointed, unless they resign or their appointments are revoked by the sultan.
The Bill also moots to give the sultan the power to:
Determine the remuneration or allowances of board members;
Approve the appointment of a director, who can be appointed as the chief executive officer of the board;
Scrutinise the accounts or appoint someone to do so; and
Wind-up and dissolve the board. The Bill also states that the estimated expenses for each following year be passed by the sultan before submission for approval of allocations from the state government.
S'gor, Penang laws don't state ruler
Section 34(1) of the Johor enactment states that the board must submit its annual report to the sultan and the state authority before June 30 every year.
Section 44 states that for any Malay reserve land under the Malay Reservation Enactment 1936, "the Board shall be deemed as the Malay corporation".
Although Selangor and Penang have the similar housing board enactments, they do not state any role for the state ruler.
The Selangor Housing and Real Property Board Enactment 2001 provides that the power to appoint board member lies in the hands of federal and state governments.
The board only submits an estimate of the budget to the state authority and its audit report will be submitted to the Selangor menteri besar and the relevant federal minister.
The Penang Housing Board Enactment 2010 states that the appointment of board members is to be done by the federal and state governments.
The estimation of expenses for the following year is only submitted to the state authority for approval while the audit report is submitted to the chief minister and the finance minister.
Asked why the Bill gives executive powers to the ruler, Abd Latiff ( above, left ) explained that it was based on the Johor constitution, which he said states that "all the powers are executed in the name of the King".
'Not a big deal in Johor'
"For Johor, this is nothing very special about it," he said when contacted.
Citing the Johor Corporation as an example, Abd Latiff, who is the Endau assemblyperson, said the state investment arm was established under the Johor Corporation Enactment 1968, which has similar provisions.
However, the opposition leader in the Johor state assembly, Dr Boo Cheng Hau, rebutted Abd Latiff's statement, saying the power of the sultan is only limited to the appointment of the menteri besar and state exco members.
"Even the appointment of the exco members is done on the advice of the menteri besar," Boo told Malaysiakini .
The Skudai assemblyperson opined that the housing board Bill is "regressive and unhealthy" in giving such jurisdiction to the sultan as it challenges the spirit of the state constitution.
According to Boo ( right ), Johor Pakatan Rakyat has reached consensus that the Bill"puts too much burden" on the sultan, particularly as the ruler would need to monitor the audit report of the board.
"We are a country that adopts a constitutional monarchy system. If we hand over executive powers to the sultan, the burden will be too heavy.
"We think the state assembly should bear the responsibility of check-and-balance," he said.
Boo also said it would be conflict of interest for the menteri besar to check the accounts of the board as he is also the chairperson.
"I think that it should be the state assembly that checks on the board by forming an independent select committee," he added.