If foreigners buy in Forest City, Malaysians will live in wooden houses: PM Mahathir

Visitors to Country Gardens' Forest City showroom in Johor Bahru in Malaysia on Aug 28, 2018.
Visitors to Country Gardens' Forest City showroom in Johor Bahru in Malaysia on Aug 28, 2018.ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he will support the Johor Menteri Besar's wish for houses in the Forest City project to be sold to foreigners, if the chief minister wants Malaysians to live in wooden houses.

Dr Mahathir took a jibe at Datuk Osman Sapian during a joint interview with Sinar Harian and Malaysiakini on Thursday (Sept 6).

"If Malaysia is given to foreigners, we would develop faster and become more advanced than Singapore because they have money to invest."

"They are business-savvy and can build beautiful buildings, but we will live in wooden houses with leaking roofs," he said.

"If that is want we want, that is okay, I will support the MB of Johor," Tun Dr Mahathir added.

He said allowing foreigners to purchase houses in Forest City would indeed develop the country, but it would be at the cost of ordinary Malaysians.

He said: "Who will be the owners (of businesses and investments): Malaysians or foreigners?

"I don't want these people coming here and living here. If they made a city that is so big, surely they would not just come here for five days.

"If they start a business here, they would not open for seven days and then return to China or their country... They would surely want to live here.

"When they live here, they would become part of the country. If they ask for citizenship, we would not be able to refuse."

Dr Mahathir was responding to Mr Osman's remarks that the Prime Minister may not understand the state's real estate policy.

Dr Mahathir had previously caused much consternation and confusion when he announced that foreigners would be barred from buying properties at the multi-billion-ringgit Forest City project.

He later clarified that Chinese nationals could indeed purchase residential units at Forest City but they would not be issued visas to live there.

The mixed development off the coast of Johor spanning 13.86 sq km, or nearly three times the size of Sentosa Island, is expected to house 700,000 residents when fully completed in 2050.