MPs accept Raja Nong Chik’s challenge to debate
Wednesday, February 8, 2012 – 17:00
by Hamzah Nazari 
KUALA LUMPUR: Three Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have accepted, with conditions, the challenge by Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin to a one-to-one debate on the use of RM1.5 billion from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to finance the city’s low-cost housing loan scheme.
PKR Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and DAP Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, who were joined by PAS Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, want the debate televised, with disclosure of agreements between government entities and EPF.
On Sunday, Raja Nong Chik challenged Nurul Izzah and Pua to a public debate on the use of EPF funds for a low-cost housing loan scheme, following the opposition MPs’ criticism of the scheme.
In a joint press statement yesterday, the three MPs said although PR supported affordable housing for low-income urban dwellers, the responsibility of its fulfillment rested with the government and not Malaysian workers who contribute to EPF.
“Hence, we are more than happy to debate with the minister in the interest of the public to ensure relevant issues are aired in an open and transparent manner,” said the statement.
Nurul Izzah, Pua and Dzulkefly felt the debate should be open and televised in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, especially to the stakeholders who are EPF contributors, and not just the low-cost housing residents in Kuala Lumpur.
“In the interest of transparency and accountability, we believe Raja Nong Chik, who is willing to openly debate this issue, will have no problems providing full disclosure of agreements made between government entities and EPF,” said the statement.
They also hit back at Raja Nong Chik for criticising them for comparing the scheme to sub-prime lending.
Quoting the Federal Deposit of Insurance Corporation (FDIC), an independent agency of the US federal government, they argued that sub-prime lending was the credit characteristics of individual borrowers with no link to property value.
“What we have here today is the EPF lending money to borrowers who, Raja Nong Chik himself has admitted, will not qualify for loans from commercial banks.
“The fact that the low-cost property value, which Raja Nong Chik claims to be worth double or triple the selling price, has nothing to do with the issue of ‘sub-prime’.”
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