FORMER finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin (pix) says the prices of residential properties in Malaysia are too high, and far beyond the people's ability to afford them.
He urged the government to expedite control measures and stop "spoiling" developers, Nanyang Siang Pau reported on Monday.
He pointed out that the oft-stressed remarks by real estate industry players that the country's property prices were lower than some neighbouring countries was misleading.
The Umno veteran stressed that "the government must be very careful, must implement policies that benefits the people".
On the steep hike in property prices in the last two years, he said "they are going up like crazy".
On claims by developers and real estate agents that there was no property bubble in Malaysia and prices here were lower than in countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong, Daim said, "of course, they are earning more than us".
He said Singaporeans on average, were earning higher than the average Malaysians, and Hong Kong had limited land whereas land is plentiful in Malaysia.
He reiterated that the views expressed by many players in the property industry were misleading.
He said the government's relaxation on the real property gain tax in the past and the central bank's relaxation on lending policies and guidelines on housing loans had given rise to too much speculative activities in the industry.
He said the high-end properties were beyond the reach of Malaysians.
Even foreign buyers were being put off, he said, adding that only the mid-range properties were still doing well.
He said the government must be clear that the people wanted a house that they can afford and one that increases in value over the years.
The people also wanted a job, with a pay that was able to meet their needs, he said.
Next come good schools and reasonable prices of goods, he added.
"If the government takes care of the people's needs, they would not consider changing the government," he said.
Daim also agreed with the implementation of the minimum wage policy but said that productivity must be raised in tandem. At the same time, the government must control inflation, he added.
Pointing out that a person who earns RM3,000 a month will find it hard to survive in Kuala Lumpur nowadays, he felt that the minimum wage should be set at RM1,200 a month.
2. Call to pay more for multi-task maids
AN Indonesian embassy official, Suryana Sastradiredja, says Malaysian employers should be ready to pay more if they want their domestic helpers to multi-task, Sin Chew Daily reported on Monday.
Suryana said Indonesia did not want its domestic helpers to continue to play "superwoman" role.
"All these years, lowly paid domestic helpers from Indonesia had been performing many chores. Some of them not only have to cook, wash cars, tend garden, look after the elderly and babysit but also help out in the houses of their employers' relatives, or help out at restaurants operated by their employers.
"I call this exploitation," he said.
He pointed out that in fact, maids trained in the related skills could do two or more jobs, but the employers must pay them more.
He said if an employer wanted the maid to cook as well as babysit her children, she need not hire two maids.
"If a maid knows how to cook and is also trained to look after toddlers, and if she is willing to perform the two tasks, the contract can be amended but the employers should be ready to pay more," he explained.
Based on a minimum pay of RM700 for a maid to perform one task, he said a maid who performed two jobs should be given about RM1,000 a month.