Debate on EPF loan issue is on

(The Star) – The debate between Pakatan Rakyat representatives and Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin over the RM1.5 bil loan from the Emplo-yees’ Provident Fund for a low-cost housing scheme in on — but with conditions.

Raja Nong Chik, who is Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister, said the debate would not be televised but it would be in front of a “live” audience — the residents of the People Housing Programme (PPR) themselves.

“They have to come and meet me,” said Raja Nong Chik in a text message to The Star.

“They also have to agree that we can discuss only on the housing loan scheme and nothing else,” he said.

Bringing it up a notch higher, he also said that the Pakatan leaders should “explain to the PPR resident why they have no confidence in them paying up and will remain poor even though the Kuala Lumpur City Hall has guaranteed that the loan will be repaid”.

In a joint statement yesterday, Pakatan MPs Tony Pua (DAP-PJ Utara), Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR-Lembah Pantai) and Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (PAS-Kuala Selangor) accepted the dare.

“In order to ensure that the people get the full story behind the controversy, the debate must be conducted on a level-playing field,” the statement read.

“The debate should be televised.

“First and foremost, we have repeatedly stated that Pakatan fully supported the noble objective of ensuring affordable housing for low income urban dwellers.

“However, the fulfilment of this aim — home ownership for the urban poor — is the respon- sibility of the government of the day, and not Malaysian workers.”

It was reported that the funds channelled from EPF was to help some 20,000 people buy the housing units in Kuala Lumpur.

The monthly instalment is reported to be between RM150 and RM300 “with an interest that is much lower than the banks”.

The price of the units is from RM21,500 to RM35,000.