KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 ― Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian can let foreigners buy up Forest City units if he wants Malaysians to live in wooden houses, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said in jest.
In an interview with Malaysiakini and Sinar Harian, Dr Mahathir said that these foreigners will probably be able to turn Johor in a more modern city than Singapore, should they be allowed to purchase residential property at the Forest City project
“Because these people have money and can invest, they are business savvy and can build beautiful buildings. But we will live in wooden homes. If that's what we want, it's okay, I will support the menteri besar of Johor.
“If we want to bring in more people, and they are rich and they will pay more taxes than us, okay. We will be rich,” Dr Mahathir reportedly said in response to the Johor MB's claim that he may not fully understand the state government's real estate policy.
Osman said recently that foreigners are welcomed to purchase residential property in Johor but that does not mean that they will be granted automatic residency, and that they will only be allowed to purchase units priced above RM1 million.
Dr Mahathir triggered controversy over Forest City last month when he said the government would not allow foreigners to snap up homes there, but later backtracked to say he meant they will not be granted resident status.
In response, Osman claimed that that there was some confusion over the issue, and that foreign home buyers will not automatically receive Malaysian residency status when buying property in Johor.
The Johor MB has defended the project, and is currently working with Cabinet-level committee headed by Local Government and Housing Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to reach a compromise on the matter.
“I don't want these people coming here and living here. If they made a city that is so big, surely they would not just come here for five days.
“And if they open a shop, because surely there will be a shop ― they wouldn't just open it for seven days and then go back to China.
“They would want to live here, and if they want to live here, they would want to be part of our country... then if they ask to become citizens, then we would not be able to refuse,” Dr Mahathir added.