Jun 3, 2008 By CHRISTINA CHIN
FOR many, it’s like striking lottery. Leaseholders of state land have welcomed Pe-nang’s new land policy allowing them to convert their property to freehold status as it would mean an increase in property prices.
Pioneer Bayan Baru resident and the area’s Rukun Tetangga chairman Chai Tsing Boo, 64, said he would meet with the township’s various residents associations (RA) and Bayan Baru MP Datuk Zahrain Mohamed Hashim to discuss the procedures for getting their residential leasehold titles converted.
“Everything we know so far is from the media. I think it is im-portant to speak to a state representative who can advise us on what needs to be done so that we can submit the relevant forms collectively,” he said.
According to Chai, “thousands and thousands” of Bayan Baru township homeowners would benefit from the policy as a majority of the homes there were built by the Penang Development Cor-poration (PDC).
“Developed in 1974, my single storey terrace house was under the first phase of PDC’s Bayan Ba-ru development comprising 477 single-storey terrace houses and 74 units of single-storey semi-detached houses.
Big change soon:These leasehold flats at Gat Lebuh Macallum were built by PDC.
“The unit was originally priced at RM29,500. Today, despite being a 99-year leasehold property, the value has increased by sevenfold.
“Some of my neighbours who have renovated their homes ma-naged to sell them for about RM300,000,” he said, adding that there was “about 30 years” left on his lease.
“Of course I will take advantage of the conversion policy because I want to leave our family home to my children,” he said, adding that under the last administration, a si-milar conversion policy was allo-wed but only for certain areas.
Food outlet owner Azhar Ramli and his mother, Halijah Yusof, were both unaware of the new policy but welcomed the news.
“Between my two siblings and me, we own two commercial shop lots and four flats in Bayan Baru – all are 99-year leasehold properties by PDC.
“We definitely want to convert our residential titles and will find out more at the Land Office on the procedures involved. Hopefully the premium won’t be too high,” Azhar, 36, said.
Halijah was “very happy” but hoped the policy could be extended to include conversion of commercial leasehold units into freehold titles as well.
A photographer who only wan-ted to be known as Ch’ng, said he would not be “rushing” to convert his land just yet.
“We don’t know how long it will take for the re-alienation to take place. If it is within six months, then I will consider.
“For people like us who are not planning on selling our units, the increase in value after conversion doesn’t really make a difference. In fact, we may end up paying more in assessment after conversion,” the 56-year-old said.
Penang Development Corpora-tion Properties Sdn Bhd (PDCP) chief executive officer Osman Kallahan said he was in “total agreement” with the new land policy as it would benefit the rakyat.
“The change in title will add value to the property, making it more ‘bankable’. This will allow PDC home owners to upgrade their lives and standard of living,” he said, adding that prior to 2005, all PDC development projects in the state were leasehold properties.
“In the past 35 years, PDC had built 22,000 homes but since PDCP was incorporated three years ago, we have developed four freehold projects on the island and mainland.
“With this new policy, we hope