Developer denies reports of shrinking size of Johor reclamation project

KUALA LUMPUR - The developer of Malaysia's controversial Forest City in the Johor Straits has denied reports that the 1,600 hectares reclamation project has been shrunk to a quarter of its size following directions by the Department of Environment (DOE).

Country Garden Pacific (CGP) View Sdn Bhd Datuk Md. Othman said in a statement Monday that limiting the project's size was never discussed with the DOE.

"In the most recent discussions, in late December 2014, DOE and CGP discussed assessment directives and compliance to high standards. These discussions do not mean that the project size is to be limited or compromised in any way," Mr Othman said in the statement which was issued after a Malaysian Insider report said the project will be limited to 405 hectares.

Quoting unnamed sources, the Insider reported that the new limits were verbally informed to the developer, following issues raised by locals as well as the Singapore government over the environment impact of the project. It was to issue an official decision to CGP next week.

"CGP is in constant communication with multiple stakeholders and regulatory authorities, ensuring that the project development always takes into consideration the needs of the communities and the needs of the environment. The DOE is one such regulatory authority that we engage and consult to ensure full compliance," Mr Othman said in the statement.

The firm said it would release the details of the projects when its "metrics, monitoring and assessment initiatives" had been finalised.

Forest City was originally conceived as a man-made island with a title deed amounting to 2,000ha, about four times the size of Sentosa. Its split into four man-made islands reduced the total land size, which has reportedly cut again by the DOE.

The DOE made their decision after Singapore presented videos and documentary proof of continued reclamation works for the ambitious China-Malaysia joint venture.

The project which involves massive reclamation in the narrow waterway between Singapore and Malaysia off Tuas where luxury homes would be on offer.

A public dialogue on Forest City's environment feasibility in September last year had turned chaotic with locals bombarding the developer with questions. They were dissatisfied for not being consulted before implementation of the project seen as harmly to the environment and the area's marine ecology.