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In abrupt U-turn, Mahathir says foreigners can buy Forest City properties but no visas will be given

KUALA LUMPUR ― Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday (Sept 4) that foreigners can buy properties in Forest City, a mega residential development project in Johor.

KUALA LUMPUR ― Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday (Sept 4) that foreigners can buy properties in Forest City, a mega residential development project in Johor.

However, he stressed that the Pakatan Harapan government would not issue them visas to make Malaysia their home.

"They can buy the property, but we won't give them visa to come and live here,” he said when met by reporters after officiating the National Art Gallery's 60th anniversary.

Last week, Dr Mahathir announced that Putrajaya would not permit foreigners to buy residential units in the US$100 billion (S$137.6 billion) Forest City project.

“One thing is certain, that city that is going to be built cannot be sold to foreigners.

“We are not going to give visas for people to come and live here,” he added. He said the government's objection was because the project was aimed at attracting foreigners, and not Malaysians.

Hours after the premier's announcement, the developer said Dr Mahathir's comments "may have been taken out of context", and pointed to Malaysia's National Land Code, which stipulated that "a foreign citizen, or a foreign company may acquire land in Malaysia subject to the prior approval of the State Authority".

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said she will set up a committee to review the mega project.

Forest City, the most ambitious project in Johor’s Iskandar economic zone, is still at an early stage of development and reclamation work is currently ongoing.

Four artificial islands will be created from the waters of the Johor Straits, covering a total surface of 14 square kilometers and bringing Malaysia’s shoreline closer to Singapore.

More than 700,000 foreigners, who are the project’s residents, are expected by 2050.

On Tuesday morning, Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian defended the project after it came under scrutiny from Putrajaya, stressing that Forest City has contributed to both the state’s and country's economy. He also said that the federal ministers may not have gotten a “clear explanation” of the project. AGENCIES

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