Johor reiterates longstanding policy on land sale to foreigners

Bungalows at Horizon Hills in Iskandar Malaysia in the southern Johor state. Johor authorities have reiterated their policy that bars foreigners from purchasing agricultural land and land reserved for the Malay community. -- ST FILE PHOTO:  
Bungalows at Horizon Hills in Iskandar Malaysia in the southern Johor state. Johor authorities have reiterated their policy that bars foreigners from purchasing agricultural land and land reserved for the Malay community. -- ST FILE PHOTO:  NURIA LING

KUALA LUMPUR - Johor authorities have reiterated their policy that bars foreigners from purchasing agricultural land and land reserved for the Malay community.

This comes after the government received reports that locals were trying to sell land meant for agricultural use due to rising land value.

On Sunday, Johor Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin warned locals that the state government would not approve the sale of land to foreigners.

He said there were at least three recent cases of locals trying to sell land meant for agricultural use.

"Major development is taking place, especially after the initiation of the Rapid (Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development) project," he was quoted by The Star newspaper as saying to reporters.

"There is no doubt that many (foreigners) will be interested to acquire land here."

Property agents in Johor said demand for land for property development among Singaporeans and Chinese nationals has been on the rise in recent years, due to the development of the Iskandar region - a mega-billion commercial and residency property development project just across the border from Singapore - that pushed up land prices in the areas nearby as well.

However, Datuk Khaled said those who wanted to put their land up for lease should consult the state government. "We are willing to negotiate on this," he said.

For more than seven decades, state governments have laws that set aside land for the Malay community for agricultural activities. These pieces of land, called Malay Reserve Land, cannot be sold to non-Malay Malaysians or foreigners.

But foreigners may continue to buy other commercial land for property development.

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