China-funded project ‘too politically challenged’, says YouTube video by Top Luxury channel
KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s controversial Forest City has been labelled as the second most useless megaproject in the world, behind the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada, United States.
The listing was featured in a YouTube video by Top Luxury, a channel established in March 2020 specialising in content on construction, megaprojects, and technology.
The video in question has since garnered upwards of four million views at the time of writing.
“Forest City was probably too ambitious to begin with, too futuristic to truly achieve, and is too politically challenged to succeed anytime soon.
“It is safe to assume that despite the billions (of dollars) invested, Forest City is currently a useless megaproject,” the video said.
It highlighted that the project near Johor Baru is being funded mainly by China, with wealthy Chinese investors unable to afford the soaring prices of apartments in their own country rushing to Forest City.
“By 2019, 80% of the property owners (in Forest City) were Chinese. Even the street signs were in Mandarin and the few schools that opened in the area offered Mandarin courses,” the video’s narrator claimed.
“This influx of Chinese investors caused a public outcry, with opponents of the project calling it a new form of colonialism.”
It further alleged that Malaysians cannot afford to purchase properties in the smart city as the prices cater to the Chinese market.
“By the start of 2020, less than 500 people were actually living in the residential developments, which is not a lot considering that Forest City is designed for 700,000 people,” it claimed.
“The project has remained in flux ever since, with some salespeople claiming that fewer than 10 homes were sold in Forest City since the start of the pandemic.”
The video also claimed that former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had banned foreigners from owning property in Forest City.
During his second tenure as prime minister from May 2018 to February 2020, Dr Mahathir had indeed vowed to prevent foreigners from purchasing properties at the Forest City project, but he had reportedly failed to state if the ban on the sale of property to foreigners was already implemented.
The video also referred to a South China Morning Post article in September this year that reported Country Garden Holdings, a direct stakeholder of Forest City, had laid off more than 1,000 of its Malaysian workers in a year.
This, the video said, signalled the “epic downturn of the project’s fortunes”.
The listing places Forest City in the same league as other controversial projects around the world cited in the video, including Ciudad Real Central Airport in Spain, Interstate H-3 in Hawaii, and Naypyidaw, the new capital of Myanmar.
China has been Malaysia’s largest foreign direct investment contributor since 2016 and was involved in several of the country’s high-profile projects, such as the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park.
Two other projects with heavy Chinese involvement – the East Coast Rail Link and Melaka Gateway – have since been cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Forest City is widely known as a joint-venture between the Guangdong-based, Hong Kong-listed Country Garden Holdings and Johor’s state-owned Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.
Forest City had previously won the Global Model of Low-Carbon City Planning and Design Award for its low-carbon green development concept at the 2021 Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements Award event held online from October 27 to 29.
By : Qistina Nadia Dzulqarnain – THE VIBES