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Friday, January 6, 2017

Dr M: Najib's FDI via land sales like selling S'pore to colonial Britain

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's move to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by selling Malaysian land is akin to selling Singapore to Great Britain during the colonial era, according to Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"The result does not benefit us at all. Much of the most valuable land would be owned and occupied by foreigners. They would become foreign land.
"When we sold the Singapore island to the Brits, we must know that Singapore with all its wealth and development has become a foreign country.
"We cannot be proud of its achievement anymore than we can of the development of other countries in the world," said the former prime minister in a blog posting today.
Mahathir said Malaysia's approach to FDI in the past was different as the focus was on attracting foreign manufacturers to create employment and products locally for export.
"FDI solved most of our unemployment problem and enriched the country through industrialisation and inflow of capital. A large amount of the capital was raised domestically.
"But today, Najib's government has given a new definition to FDI.
"He regards foreigners bringing in money to buy land and develop towns and cities where their people would come and stay as foreign direct investment," he added.
One such example, he said, was Forest City in Johor, developed by a China-based company.
"Already thousands of units have been completed and sold to mainland Chinese. Bloomberg reports that 700,000 mainland Chinese would stay there," he claimed.
The said Bloomberg article did not explicitly state that the 700,000 new homes would be occupied by mainland Chinese but it noted that this would be the target market for sales.
The report added that there are some 60 similar projects within Iskandar Malaysia around Johor Bahru which could add another 500,000 homes.
"Typically Chinese contractors prefer to bring in their own workers, architects and engineers.
"Few Malaysians would be employed in these projects and few Malaysians would be able to buy the flats being built," said Mahathir.
The former premier claimed that in most countries, foreigners are not allowed to buy land and would only be granted contracts to carry out developments.
However, he said this does not appear to be the case in Malaysia, which he described as "generous".
"Certainly what they build (in other countries) would not be for huge numbers of foreign people to occupy almost exclusively.
"We claim that these foreigners would not stay permanently in the enclaves they develop. We claim they would stay here only for the winter months.
"Can we imagine for nine months these towns and cities would be empty - the shops, flats, offices, hotels, and recreation areas being closed.
"They would become ghost cities and towns. Empty roads and streets. Empty shopping complexes. It is absurd," he added.
Mahathir said Malaysia cannot allow thousands of acres of land to be owned, developed and settled by foreigners.
"If we do that they would literally become foreign enclaves, troublesome for local authorities to manage. Indeed difficult even for the central government to manage," he said.
He added that Malaysians are capable of developing their own lands even though it might not be on a massive scale with huge capital.
Mahathir said further concern was raised when Najib announced he succeeded in securing RM150 billion in FDI during his trip to China in November.
"I am sure that most of this FDI would involve selling land, government and 1MDB's land to pay the debts which everyone knows have been incurred by them.
"We are going to see large chunks of Malaysia being developed by foreign buyers and being occupied by them.
"Eventually, they would demand for citizenship and they would participate in Malaysian politics including in elections.
"Whatever ideology they believe in might change the colour of Malaysian politics," he added.
When that happens, Mahathir said there would be nothing to be proud of even if Malaysia becomes magnificently developed as it would be owned and occupied by foreigners.
In 2014, Malaysiakini highlighted the Forest City project, which is linked to the Johor royal family.
The following year, Malaysiakini highlighted the "enormous" social impact it would have due to foreign population, as stated in its detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) report as well as long-term environmental challenges.- Mkini

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