The need to do a ‘SPIT’ on Forest City

Opinion  |  Phar Kim Beng
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | British historian and economist John Maynard Keynes once said "when the facts change, I change my opinion, what do you do sir?"

Forest City has an expensive price tag that would go well into US$100 billion by 2050, at which point, 700,000 Chinese nationals could be relocated to Malaysia, forming their own privileged suburbs.

If Bangsar South, Damansara Heights, Sri Hartamas, Kenny Hills and Bukit Tunku - where elite Malaysians seem to live in their silos - are hard enough to integrate, imagine what an exclusive abode in the heart of Johor would do.

In opposing Forest City, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not just challenging the idea of foreign direct investment from China, but the form and shape; indeed their very impact.

Secluded and secure in their own conclave, Forest City would basically become a citadel of collective self-entitlement; what Yoyogi Koen in the heart of Tokyo is to a group of normally white expatriates, in an elitist Japanese society that does not welcome Asian emigrants anyway.

Given the size of Forest City, which some estimates affirmed could be several times bigger than Singapore, the entire outlay of the landscape by 2050 would be an affront to Malays and Malaysians alike.

This includes the 92 percent of Malaysians who are now earning less than RM6,000 a month, according the statistics of the Employees Provident Fund. And, the four out of 10 Malaysians who are uninsured, invariably, exposing their whole families to the vagaries of lives too.

Both are serious, systemic and structural problems, which projects like Forest City cannot directly address. To add on to that, there are signs that in 20 years, Malaysians will begin to age five times faster than any European societies in general.

These are all impacts that can result in religious and racial tension among Malaysians...

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