The progress of construction in Forest City in Gelang Patah yesterday. Pic by Khairull Azry Bidin

JOHOR BARU: Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar has chided those who criticised the Forest City project and claimed that it was about pawning Johor’s land.

The ruler said Forest City had enabled the state to increase its size and attract developments which had boosted the value of local real estate and bring prosperity for Johoreans.

“Has Johor ever pawned its land? What is the meaning of pawning? With Forest City, the state of Johor has increased in size. It is not about seizing land to be pawned. In Johor, there are international lots and Malay reserve land.

“Anyone can buy at the international zone, be it the Mat Salleh from England or people from India, Japan, China. All of them can purchase it.

“They can buy (property), but it does not mean they purchase the land to bring it back to their respective home country.

“In Johor, we have an international zone, which means that foreigners could buy (at that location). It has international status. In Forest City, we do not sell the land, we sell the strata (titles) and these strata (titles) are for permanent ownership in Johor,” he said.

Sultan Ibrahim also addressed the frequent misconception about Forest City and its stakeholders.

Sultan Ibrahim said that the project gave a lot of revenue for the state government, including quit rent and assessment, which are channelled into the coffers of Johor.

He said it would bring about job opportunities, better transportation systems and business opportunities.

“How much revenue will the Johor government get? When Forest City is completed, the assessment, quit rent will go to who? Who will get the jobs? There are transportation (initiatives), businesses and job opportunities. Don’t be narrow minded about this,” said Sultan Ibrahim.

He said the most visible benefit of the Forest City project was the boost it has given to the value of real estate in its surrounding areas, particularly in Pontian district, which is now developing at a rapid pace.

“The value of real estate (near Forest City) has increased. In the past, people in Pontian used to only pick buah duku, but now people in Pontian own Mercedes Benzes.

“It means that Pontian has become a district that will see rapid development.

“In the past, an acre (0.4ha) of land used to cost RM100,000, but now, it is valued up to RM3 million,” said Sultan Ibrahim.

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