Townships built exclusively for foreigners not allowed in Malaysia

The Forest City development in Johor was recently criticised for being heavily marketed to Chinese buyers and other foreigners.

Malaysia’s Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng clarified that while foreigners are welcome to acquire properties in Malaysia, the government is against projects built solely for foreign buyers, reported the Business Times.

“Let me be clear that our Prime Minister (Mahathir Mohamad) does not oppose foreigners buying properties in Malaysia, but when townships are built exclusively for foreigners, how does that benefit the country and Malaysians? This, the government will not accept,” Lim was quoted as saying in his keynote speech at the 2018 Annual Property Developers Conference.

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Although Lim did not name any specific project, Dr Mahathir recently criticised the Forest City development.

Built on four man-made islands in the Johor Strait and facing Singapore’s Tuas, the development, which is led by China’s Country Garden, had been heavily marketed to Chinese buyers and other foreigners.

Earlier this month, Dr Mahathir said foreigners can acquire residential units at Forest City but would not be issued visas to live in the country.

Lim noted that no country would allow the construction of housing projects primarily aimed at foreign buyers.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “We are not preventing foreigners from buying your projects. After all, the projects are open and available to everyone, Malaysians and foreigners. Foreign buyers buying property is not a problem. We welcome that because, after all, they are bringing money into Malaysia,” he said.

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Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email

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