SHAH ALAM – Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today renewed his criticism against the sale of land to foreigners, especially in the Forest City reclamation project in Johor.
Speaking at the first PPBM annual general meeting here, the 92-year-old party chairman said he hoped the project would end up being inhabited by creatures like monkeys and baboons.
“Our land will be completely sold, no matter what happens to Forest City,” he said at the event at the Ideal Convention Centre Shah Alam here.
“I hope Forest City will truly become a forest… Its residents will consist of baboons, monkeys and so on,” he said.
“We should realise that once we sell land to others, we no longer have any ownership over it,” he added.
“Once upon a time before, the island of Temasek, which is today known as Singapore, was also sold off. We sold the land to the British… Now it is no longer our country.”
Mahathir, who is also Pakatan Harapan chairman, claimed that it was sad that a 300-acre piece of land in Port Klang was also sold to foreigners and the money used to pay off debts.
He was probably referring to reports that 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) had divested its stakes in a piece of land in Pulau Indah near the Port Klang Free Zone to an entity controlled by Chinese state-owned concerns.
“We should realise that if we sell land to people, we no longer own the land,” Mahathir said.
This is not the first time the former prime minister criticised the RM100 billion Forest City smart city project, which was being intensely promoted to buyers in China and the Middle East.
Built on four artificial islands and with an area of 1,385.6ha, the futuristic town near Johor Bahru is expected to be completed within 20 years and can accommodate about 700,000 people.
In March, Mahathir said foreigners who stayed at Forest City could live there forever and there was no ruling that would prevent them from becoming citizens after staying there for years.
He said under Malaysian law, anyone who stayed in the country for more than 12 years had the right to become a citizen and vote in elections. There was no guarantee, he added, that this would not happen.
Mahathir also hit out at Prime Minister Najib Razak for “redefining” foreign direct investment (FDI) by having land allegedly sold to foreign investors and allowing them to develop townships exclusive only to foreigners.
He also said the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP), dubbed in the media as the ‘Great Wall of China in Kuantan’ was an example of an exclusive project that was “evidence” of Najib’s undermining of national sovereignty.