JOHOR BARU - A senior official linked to the Forest City project, who is also an Umno division chief, has been named a candidate in a state seat in the general election, Malaysian media reported on Monday (April 23).
Datuk Md Othman Yusof will represent the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in the state seat of Kukup in western Johor.
He is chief of Umno's Tanjung Piai division, and executive director of Country Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd (CGPV), the master developer of the Forest City project.
He told reporters after the naming of BN candidates for Johor that his campaign would include addressing the opposition's criticism of Forest City, Malaysiakini online news said.
The massive land reclamation off southern Johor, facing Singapore's Tuas, has been criticised by the opposition including its chief Tun Mahathir Mohamad who said the high cost of apartments there meant only Singaporeans and China nationals would be able to afford homes there.
Dr Mahathir had also claimed that the China nationals might later become long-term residents of Johor, become voters, and changing the demographic and voting pattern of the state.
These claims have been dismissed by Johor and national Malaysian leaders, who said the China projects and its investors brought jobs to the state.
The multibillion dollar Forest City project will eventually be 1,400ha in total size, on four reclaimed islands. It is expected to have over the next 30 years or so, homes for around 700,000 people.
Mr Othman won the Kukup seat in the 2008 general election but was replaced by another Umno candidate in the 2013 polls. He will now stand in the same seat with the incumbent state assemblyman dropped.
Malaysiakini reported that Mr Othman, when asked to comment speculation in several blogs that he was making an electoral comeback as he might be made Johor menteri besar, brushed off the claim.
"Our mission is to win the election. The nominee (is not important). What is important is that we win," he said.
Earlier media reports said CGPV was partly owned by China's Country Garden Holdings, with Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Ismail and an investment arm of the Johor government also holding stakes.