Malaysia bars foreigners from Johor's US$100b Forest City project that drew Chinese buyers

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will not allow foreigners to buy residential units built at the US$100 billion (S$136 billion) Forest City project in Johor, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday (Aug 27).

The project has been wracked by uncertainty since Dr Mahathir's coalition scored a shock victory at a May general election, as developer Country Garden Holdings Co looks to revive faltering demand for its plans to build a city that would be home to 700,000 people.

"One thing is certain, that city that is going to be built cannot be sold to foreigners. We are not going to give visas for people to come and live here," Dr Mahathir told reporters at a press conference.

"Our objection is because it was built for foreigners, not built for Malaysians. Most Malaysians are unable to buy those flats."

A Country Garden official said the company did not have any immediate response to Dr Mahathir's comments.

Opposition to the project helped drive Dr Mahathir's election campaign, during which he called it, and other Chinese-backed projects, evidence of his predecessor selling Malaysia to China. Malaysians living in Johor complained of large numbers of Chinese people snapping up properties in

Forest City, besides concerns of environmental damage, a glut in the property market, and the impact of land reclamation on fisheries.

Country Garden has developed just a fraction of the planned reclamation of 20 sq km, where Chinese nationals accounted for about 70 per cent of apartment buyers last year.

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