Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad cited nationalist reactions to immigration in various countries to justify concern over foreign ownership in the Forest City development project.
The Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) chairperson said this shows it is acceptable for Johoreans to raise concern about foreigners buying land in the state.
“No country in the world accepts mass influx of foreigners.
“The United States which has 325 million people is rejecting Mexican immigration and under President Donald Trump, Muslims, too.
“In Palestine, development of cities for Jewish residents on Palestine-owned land is opposed while in Europe, Syrian, Arab and African refugees are also barred.
“The majority of Johoreans are no different to others if they oppose Forest City on grounds of mass immigration,” he said in a blog post.
Mahathir said this in response to police reports lodged against him by several NGOs claiming Mahathir was slanderous in his allegation that Forest City will open the floodgates to China immigration.
He also urged the NGOs to lodge a police report against financial news agency Bloomberg for also reporting high take up of Forest City among China nationals.
He noted the Forest City project is selling off freehold land to foreigners, and as such those lodging a police report against him on the matter are national traitors.
He said the purchase of Johor land by foreigners is akin to how Singapore was lost to colonial powers.
“These NGOs are traitors for supporting the sale of Malaysian territories to foreigners, who will build luxury cities for them to live in forever,” he said.
The NGOs, he said, are “deaf, blind and mute” for failing to understand this.
Johor Menteri Besar Khaled Nordin had previously offered to give Mahathir a tour of the Gelang Patah project to allay his fears of foreign influx.
Umno leaders have also lambasted Mahathir, pointing out that foreign ownership of land does not equate to Malaysian citizenship.
Bersatu members echoed the party chairperson’s stance.
In Pagoh, the stronghold of Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, a banner reads: “Welcome Khaled Nordin to Pagoh.
“Thank you for approving the Forest City project and selling freehold land to foreigners.
“We, Johoreans, are instead only allowed leasehold properties.”