PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad has again criticised the sale of land to foreigners in Johor despite calls for him to apologise for his previous comments.
In a blog post yesterday, the 91-year-old also hit out at a group of NGOs for wanting the police to investigate him over his comments on the issue.
The former prime minister said he couldn’t understand why the “deaf, blind and mute” didn’t lodge a police report against Bloomberg – an international financial news outlet which had written on Forest City – even though they had been more critical of the project compared with what he had said.
“There is a big possibility that these deaf, blind and mute people did not read the report, or if they did, they did not understand it,” Mahathir said.
Quoting the Bloomberg report, he had previously questioned the massive Forest City project – a 1,386 hectare development spread across four man-made islands in Johor’s Iskandar region – which he said would see Chinese nationals buying most of the properties on sale.
Mahathir’s claim that the Forest City project was undermining national sovereignty due to the expected influx of Chinese nationals was slammed by the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Ismail. The ruler said the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) chairman was trying to scare the people over Chinese investments in the state.
Earlier this month, five NGOs urged Mahathir to openly apologise to Sultan Ibrahim and the people of Johor over his comments on Forest City, which they said were “baseless allegations”.
Separately, another group of NGOs lodged a police report against Mahathir on the matter.
In his blog post, however, Mahathir stood by his comments, comparing the sale of land to foreigners to the “sale of Singapore”.
It is believed he was referring to a deal struck between Johor royalty and the British over trading rights in Singapore almost 200 years ago. The deal saw the British being granted trading rights through the Singapore Agreement.
“Now Singapore is a foreign nation which will never be returned to Johor,” he said. He also challenged the NGOs that had lodged a police report against him to visit Forest City and “see it with their own eyes”.
“Try to check if the residents and owners there are local, especially Malays.
“Also, check if the land is being leased and not freehold land as written on notice boards and promoted to Chinese buyers.”
Mahathir added that opposition to the sale of land to foreigners was common around the world, and that no country would accept the influx of foreigners to their country.
“If the majority of Johoreans reject Forest City and the influx of foreigners, their stand does not differ from the stand of other people against the influx of foreigners into their countries.” -FMT