ISKANDAR PUTERI • The Johor government has proposed reserving 30 per cent of the properties in the Forest City project for Malaysian buyers, Malay Mail online news reported yesterday, as the state tries to allay central government fears that Chinese nationals who bought into the project would become residents there.
The proposal will be submitted to a committee formed by the federal Housing and Local Government Ministry, which is working to scrutinise and reassess agreements concerning sales of residential units in the US$100 billion (S$137 billion) mixed-use development.
Forest City, being built on four man-made islands in the Strait of Johor facing Tuas, caught international headlines after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said last week that foreigners would not be allowed to buy homes or granted visas to live in the mega-project, which had been marketed primarily to Chinese buyers.
Johor housing and rural development committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad, a member of the Johor state Cabinet, told Malay Mail in an interview published yesterday that the proposed quota was based on initial findings on the mega project and was not final.
"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 (CGPV)," Mr Dzulkefly told Malay Mail.
Reports have quoted CGPV as saying that 70 per cent of Forest City buyers so far were from mainland China, 20 per cent Malaysians and the remainder of buyers from 22 countries.
Number of residential units launched for sale by the end of last year.
Area, in sq km, of the Forest City project.
CGPV launched about 20,000 residential units for sale by the end of last year, of which about 18,000 were sold.
Since 2015, CGPV has built more than 500 apartments, the 280-room Phoenix Hotel and Forest City Golf Resort, which comprises the Legacy Golf Course and a 300-room hotel.
Mr Dzulkefly said the committee formed by the Housing and Local Government Ministry has yet to convene.
He expects to be contacted by the ministry today.
He said Forest City, spanning 13.86 sq km, or nearly three times the size of Sentosa Island, has benefited the state while creating job opportunities for locals.
Mr Dzulkefly said that while the state government respected the federal government's probe into the development, there is also a need to correct misperceptions about the project, such as the purported influx of Chinese citizens and claims that they will be given residency status.
He said Forest City developers told the state government that only 5 per cent of foreigners who purchased properties there had formally applied for residency under the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme.
Approved applicants under the programme are issued 10-year multiple-entry social visit passes, which are renewable.
"The figure was communicated by the Forest City developers following a fact-finding visit in June," said the state executive councillor.
"The Johor state government had earlier taken the initiative to meet the developers to get a better understanding of the situation after Pakatan Harapan had just formed the state government after the May 9 general election."