Mahathir bans foreigners from buying Forest City project



During a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Dr Mahathir said in addition to barring foreigners from buying Forest City units, visas will also not be given for them to reside in Malaysia.

The US$100 billion (RM444 billion) Forest City development in Johor is not for foreign buyers, according to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The project has faced uncertainty since Mahathir's coalition scored a shock victory at a May general election, as developer Country Garden Holdings Co looks to revive faltering demand for a city planned to be home to 700,000 people.

The prime minister said he did not agree with a local property development that it is aimed primarily at foreign buyers and priced out of the range of most Malaysians.

"One thing is certain, that city that is going to be built can not be sold to foreigners", Mahathir told a press conference. "Most Malaysians are unable to buy those flats".

"We are not going to give visas for people to come and live here".

"We are still trying to make sense of this new move, as we have yet to be informed", he said on Monday, adding that they would seek clarification from the Prime Minister's Department.

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The property and lifestyle development is being conducted by Country Garden Pacific View Sdn Bhd, a joint venture (JV) between Hong Kong-based Country Garden Group and Esplanade Danga 88 Sdn Bhd, an associate company of state-owned Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.

But critics said the deals were unfavourable to Malaysia.

Country Garden's shares pared gains to 2.2 per cent after Dr Mahathir's comments, having risen as much as 3.9 per cent earlier.

Mahathir tapped into public displeasure over a perceived over-dependence on Chinese capital, saying that it was Najib's way of covering up for shortfalls caused by his administration's fiscal mismanagement and corruption, especially at scandal-tainted 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). On a visit to Beijing last week, Mahathir announced he was shelving a series of Chinese-backed infrastructure projects worth $22 billion in total.

Reuters also reported that Malaysians living in Johor have complained about Chinese nationals buying up properties in Forest City, prompting concerns of environmental damage, a glut in the property market, and the impact of land reclamation on fisheries.

The Forest City project near Singapore had targeted buyers from China for its mixed-residential development, as well as investors from Indonesia, Thailand and Dubai.

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