By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPKT) is looking into the possibility of imposing restrictions on foreign ownership of properties in the Forest City development, which would also constraint Johor state’s laws and policies that permit up to 70% foreign ownership of the mega project.
KPKT Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin (picture) said the ministry is studying the project and collecting relevant data before making any decision.
“It is premature to say anything, but I think the direction of the discussion should be perceived heading that way.
“I have submitted a preliminary report to the Cabinet on Wednesday, but there is still a lot of fact-finding to be done before a comprehensive report could be submitted to the prime minister to decide on how we will address the concerns and issues raised,” she said after attending the 72nd National Council for Local Government meeting in Putrajaya yesterday.
Last month, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government would not allow foreigners to own homes and would refuse granting visas to foreign buyers in the RM410 billion worth project.
Last week, Johor Chief Minister Datuk Osman Sapian welcomed foreigner buyers to purchase properties in the southern megacity, but stated that some 30% of the project would be reserved for Malaysians, in contrast to the federal government’s position.
Zuraida has met the Iskandar Regional Development Authority earlier this week to gain all related information pertaining to the project.
She also met the Forest City developer and representatives from the state government yesterday.
“We have to review the project to ensure local participation and benefits will not be neglected. We also need to assure locals, especially the Johor citizens, that they can enjoy the ultra-modern facilities that would be developed,” she said.
Forest City is developed by the Country Garden Pacific View Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between Esplanade Danga 88 Sdn Bhd and China’s County Garden Group.
Johor Housing and Rural Development Committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad said a task force was formed to formulate clearer housing guidelines and rectify any loopholes in the state’s overall housing development, including the Forest City project.
Meanwhile, Zuraida said the proposed Highland Towers re-development plan is gaining traction with data of the project finalised.
“Based on our latest findings with the insolvency department, we have found out there were 150 units in all the three blocks of the condominium, not 138 as reported.
“111 units belong to the Regal Fields Development Sdn Bhd, 12 units are still under legal claims, four non-claimant units, two unsold houses and 21 unit owners are still unidentified,” she said.
Of the total 21 unknown owners, the ministry has since been able to identify all except six.
The ministry is planning to turn the site of the 1993 Highland Towers tragedy into a public park.