A pilot housing scheme in Johor Baru that offers buyers a chance to own their own home at a fraction of the market price has drawn an overwhelming response.
The project, which opened for registration after its official launch by the Johor Sultan on Wednesday, drew more than 265,000 applications by noon yesterday.
A total of 1,840 landed properties and apartments are up for grabs under the Bangsa Johor/Sultan Ibrahim Dream Home project.
Initiated by charitable foundation Yayasan Sultan Ibrahim, the scheme has set Johor abuzz not just for the affordability of the homes but also as a riposte by Johor Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar to Tun Mahathir Mohamad over recent remarks he made about the Malaysian state.
Dr Mahathir had blogged about his concern that Prime Minister Najib Razak was allowing mainland Chinese companies to buy vast swathes of land, particularly in southern Johor.
His rhetoric on Chinese projects in Malaysia was seen as part of a campaign to unseat Mr Najib.
However, Dr Mahathir's line of attack has upset the Johor ruler, who took exception to the former Malaysian Prime Minister for "putting political interests above Malaysian interests, particularly Johor's".
The announcement of the low- cost housing projects - timed to celebrate the Sultan's 59th birthday yesterday and pitched as his gift to Johoreans - was a clear demonstration of intent to outsiders not to mess in the ruler's backyard, according to a Malaysian political pundit.
At the launch venue at Galleria Kotaraya, some came as early as the crack of dawn, despite the event being scheduled to start at 2.30pm on Wednesday.
Applicants will be vetted by a special committee under the Yayasan.
They must fulfil certain conditions such as Johor being their place of birth.
They must form a family unit with children and have a household income of less than RM4,000 a month. They, and their parents, must not currently own a house.
Some 840 homes will be built in two suburbs at Bandar Dato' Onn and Bandar Baru Majidee.
Another 1,000 units will rise at Bukit Saujana, near Johor Baru city centre. The city centre homes will cost RM297,000 (S$94,000) to RM429,000, reflecting the value of prime estate. Such homes can fetch up to RM1 million in the market.
The most affordable homes will be at Bandar Dato' Onn, with a mix of landed homes at RM80,000, RM85,000 and RM95,000 for a terrace, semi-detached house and bungalow respectively.
The development will be undertaken by Johor Land, a unit of state investment arm Johor Corporation.
"What's even more interesting is that all the houses will be equipped with basic electrical appliances such as a washing machine, television and refrigerator," said Johor Corp president and chief executive Kamaruzzaman Abu Kassim.
He disclosed that the Yayasan has tied up with Bank Rakyat to provide housing loans of up to 100 per cent. Eligible buyers need to pay only RM1 as down payment.