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Report: Country Garden official admits Forest City too expensive for M'sians

Published:  |  Modified:

Publicly, Country Garden Pacificview (CGPV) Sdn Bhd is only willing to say that its Forest City project complies with the rules and regulations but privately, its official admits that the real estate there is too expensive for Malaysians, according to a report by the Washington Post.

The report quoted a CGPV official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying that Malaysia does not want to see "the Chinese taking over Malaysian land".

"They hate the way we do business. It is clear that the price of the property is too high for Malaysians and (we have) specifically marketed toward the Chinese," the official was quoted as saying.

The official also acknowledged that the situation had become "tense" amid the new government's attempt to rein in foreign ownership in Forest City.

Publicly, CGPV's statement to Washington Post said it had “complied with all laws and regulations with the necessary approvals to sell to foreign purchasers”.

The company added that it was "in talks" with the Prime Minister's Office but "is unable to provide any information as discussions are in the initial stage".

The report noted that Forest City, in its promotional material, had touted support from the Chinese embassy in Malaysia as well as senior Chinese government officials.

"Forest City’s website describes the duty-free zone as the standard demonstration zone of ‘One Belt One Road’ in Southeast Asia," said the report.

The Washington Post also visited Forest City's newly-opened international school, the Shattuck-St Mary's school.

"Sixty percent of the 78 students enrolled there are Chinese. Tuition for a day student between grades six and 12 averages US$24,000 per year — about four times the average annual wage in Malaysia.

"The school’s Olympic-size pool, tennis courts, basketball court, yoga studio and boarding facilities — all deserted on a recent visit — were built for 1,000 students," it said.

Bersatu chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad, since before coming into power, had criticised the previous BN government of being too liberal in the sale of land to foreign companies.

Now as prime minister, is he looking at curbing the sale of properties at Forest City to foreigners.

The Housing and Local Government Ministry is presently reviewing the possibility on imposing a quota on local ownership.

Guangdong-based Country Garden Holdings owns 66 percent of CGPV through Malaysian subsidiaries, while the remaining 34 percent is owned by the Johor government, state ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, as well as his associate.

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