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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

KL residents protest property tax hike

DECEMBER 16, 2013
UPDATED: DECEMBER 16, 2013 05:16 PM

More than 20,000 objection letters against the planned assessment rate hike
were delivered by protestors to DBKL in Kuala Lumpur, December 16, 2013.
— Picture by Saw Siow Feng
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — About 300 Kuala Lumpur property owners and residents demonstrated outside the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) headquarters here today against a controversial increase in city property taxes.

PKR’s Batu MP Chua Tian Chang said that more than 20,000 objection letters against the planned assessment rate hike were delivered to DBKL today, ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for the filing of objections.

“The assessment rate hike for KL properties is not fair and cannot be accepted,” Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai, who was also at the rally, told protesters at DBKL’s headquarters here today.

“Local elections must be held so that the mayor will be elected by the people. Only then will the mayor and DBKL understand our suffering,” he added, as protesters called for the resignation of KL Mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib.

The rally, which was organised by opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat (PR), was peaceful, with minimal police presence.

Many of the rally participants were elderly people of all races, some of whom were holding placards that said: “We demand for the KL mayor to be elected through the general elections”.

Pakatan Rakyat rally against assessment hikes at the
DBKL building in Kuala Lumpur December 16, 2013.
— Picture by Saw Siow Feng

A protester holding up a placard during the rally against the
assessment hike at the DBKL building in Kuala Lumpur December 16, 2013.
— Picture by Saw Siow Feng
The proposed increase on property valuation has sparked public outcry since last month, after property owners received DBKL notices informing them of hikes between 100 and 250 per cent to their land valuation.

Housewife Chong Shiong Pheng, 63, who was at the rally, said that the rental valuation for her condominium unit in Sri Petaling had tripled from RM3,000 to RM9,000.

“It’s very high. How can we stand this? The electricity tariff also has gone up. But our salaries have not gone up,” Chong told The Malay Mail Online.

A low-cost flat resident in Pantai Dalam, Suriyati Hussein, similarly complained about a 300 per cent increase in her assessment rate.

“Even then, the PPR houses are dirty,” Suriyati, 50, told reporters at the rally, complaining about DBKL’s services for public housing.

“Everything has gone up. I hate this,” added the single mother.

A. Subramaniam, a 69-year-old retiree, said his rental valuation had spiked from RM1,000 to RM2,880 for his two-room apartment in Brickfields.

“There’s GST. And the electricity tariff, toll, sugar are all going up. Want to have RM6 lunch at a stall also cannot,” he told reporters at the rally, referring to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that will be implemented in 2015.

“DBKL inside is like a five-star hotel. Lavishly, they’re spending money,” added Subramaniam.

Ng Wei Keong, a 33-year-old site engineer, said that DBKL should have increased assessment rates gradually, instead of implementing a sudden hike after 21 years.

“It’s not the right way to drastically increase,” Ng told reporters at the rally.

He said that his assessment rate has doubled from the initial payment of RM180 per six months for a double-storey house in Taman Desa.

On Thursday, Ahmad Phesal confirmed with The Malay Mail that DBKL has only received 35,000 objection letters so far, or just 7 per cent out of the 500,000 notices sent out last month.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor previously confirmed that KL property owners would not be penalised for paying old assessment rates until the quantum of the city’s proposed tax hike is announced by March.

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