ISKANDAR PUTERI (Sept 3): The Johor state government has proposed to reserve 30% of properties in the Forest City project for Malaysians, amid concerns of mainland Chinese immigrating to the state, reported the Malay Mail.
The 30% proposed quota was not final, as it was based on initial findings.
Johor housing and rural development committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad was quoted by the Malay Mail as saying: “The local Malaysian quota for property ownership in Forest City is seen as a fair restriction as almost all other development projects in Johor are bound by the state government’s various quotas to safeguard land.
“We hope the proposal will be positively received by the special committee consisting of the Johor state government, the Housing and Local Government Ministry, the Finance Ministry and also Forest City developers Country Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd.”
The committee tasked with looking into the foreign ownership issue has yet to convene.
Dzulkefly said that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) state government did not view the Forest City project as being problematic. The foreign investments had benefited the state and created job opportunities for locals.
Dzulkefly, speaking to the Malay Mail, said the state government respected the federal government’s probe into the matter, but added there is also a need to correct various perceptions about the Forest City project, such as the purported influx of Chinese citizens and claims they will be given residency status.
Forest City developers have informed the state government that only 5% of foreigners who purchased properties in the mega project have formally applied for the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme.
“The figure was communicated by the Forest City developers following a fact-finding visit in June,” said the state executive councillor, as quoted by the publication.
“The Johor state government had earlier taken the initiative to meet the developers to get a better understanding of the situation after PH had just formed the state government after the May 9 general election.
“This was in-line by the new administration to understand and look into the perceived issues that the mega development had caused.”
Dzulkefly, also the Kota Iskandar assemblyman, pointed out that issues related to Johor’s land, water and forest were within the purview of the state government.
“For normal development in the state, all developers will have to adhere to the quota ratio for properties located on international lots such as the Bumiputera quota and also the minimum RM1 million ceiling price quota for foreigners.
“However, projects such as Forest City were given special considerations by the previous Barisan Nasional-led administration,” he explained.
Forest City is still in a nascent stage of development, with reclamation works ongoing. Four artificial islands will cover a total surface area of 14 sq km on the Johor Straits, bringing Malaysia’s shoreline closer to Singapore.
Over 700,000 foreign residents are expected by 2050.
The weekend saw the official opening of the RM1.8 billion Forest City Golf Resort and Jack Nicklaus Designed Forest City Legacy Golf Course.
Forest City apartment units are priced from more than RM600,000 (for 500 sq ft unit) to RM7 million (penthouses), sold at an average RM1,200 per square feet, a new level of premium-range property prices in the state.
Last Monday, it was reported that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the PH government will not allow foreigners to buy residential units in the Forest City project, a statement later clarified that purchase of Forest City properties did not guarantee automatic residency in Malaysia, which the Johor government later confirmed was the case.