Slow project approval reason for graft in construction industry, says group

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Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association chairman Jeffrey Ng says the government should review the speed of the approval process.

PETALING JAYA: The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) today said corruption in the property development and construction industry was largely caused by slow project approval by the government.

Rehda Institute chairman Jeffrey Ng said this left some developers resorting to bribes to speed up the approval process.

“Lengthy process is the norm, delays are expected, made worse by endless appeal processes at each stage of application,” he said at a Rehda Institute programme today.

He added that the lack of speed in project approval was actually one of the biggest challenges faced by the industry and urged the government to review the speed of the industry’s approval system, suggesting they shift it onto a digital platform to avoid face-to-face interaction.

He also called for a review of self-regulation practices by professionals in the sector, such as architects, property planners and engineers.

“We believe if these measures are in place, corruption in the industry will reduce significantly as we are tackling the issue at the source and not merely looking at protecting ourselves against corruption practices by staff, directors, or associates of our organisations.”

Jeffrey Ng.

He added that Rehda Institute was working to ensure the property development and construction industry complied with Section 17A of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Act 2018.

“It is crucial for every property developer and our fellow Rehda members to digest this new provision with utmost caution and to start taking the necessary precautionary measures by implementing key long-standing risk management measures for their respective organisations.”

The provision, which came into effect on June 1, makes commercial organisations liable to prosecution for corruption if any of their employees or associates commit corruption to benefit the organisation.

The penalty under Section 17A(2) is a fine of not less than 10 times the value of the bribe or RM1 million, whichever is higher, and/or imprisonment for up to 20 years.