KUALA LUMPUR ― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s allegation that Chinese nationals will swamp Johor via the Forest City development was empty scaremongering, said Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammed Khaled Nordin.
Speaking to the press at a Chinese New Year celebration in Johor Baru today, he again disputed the former prime minister by providing data to show the implausibility of Dr Mahathir’s allegation that up to 1.5 million Chinese nationals could reside in the state.
“The total land size of the state is 1.8 million hectares while the total land size affected in the Forest City project is only 1.977ha, which is only 0.108 per cent of the land in Johor.
“With only less than one per cent of the area involved, it is impossible for the China mainlanders to occupy the state and this shows that Dr Mahathir is only making the accusation to scare Johoreans,” he was quoted as saying by the Star Online news portal.
Mohammad Khaled also pointed out that the Forest City project is a state government project undertaken by both foreign and local investors, but acknowledged that Chinese firms were the majority of the former.
“It is not 100 per cent foreign-owned as locals have a 42 per cent stake in it,” he said at the Muafakat Johor Chinese New Year Bazaar 2017 organised by the Pasir Gudang Tiong Hua Association here in Taman Johor Jaya.
The Forest City project, estimated to be worth RM443 billion, is expected to be completed in 30 years.
The Johor MB said the project was necessary to help boost the state’s competitiveness, especially against neighbours Singapore.
Khaled then said there was no evidence to support Dr Mahathir’s claim that 700,000 Chinese would get citizenships by buying property at Forest City.
“I believe the rules applied by our Immigration Department are very strict as it is impossible for Chinese mainlanders to get Malaysian nationality only by purchasing a house in the state,” he said.
Dr Mahathir, citing a report from business newswire Bloomberg, claimed that the Forest City project was meant to entice Chinese nationals, and is expected to draw in 700,000 of them there.
He also claimed that they could be given permanent residence status and allowed to vote if they reside there for more than three years.
The allegation drew criticism from Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, who accused Dr Mahathir of indulging in racial politics.
– MALAY MAIL