Was Johor’s Forest City part of China’s citizen relocation plan?

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Picture Credit: Video grab of the development plan of Forest City

China has a massive ‘citizen’ relocation plan, designed to alleviate some of its crushing population booms. The plan is to ‘export’ the rich along with a number of low paid citizens to other parts of the world.

Cambodia’s Transparency International executive director Preap Kol told Khmer Times Business Insight China has a huge population and it has set out a plan to send its people out to live in other countries.

He said that was not only inherent to Cambodia. China has built the next ‘Shenzhen’ in Sihanoukville. The province is now transformed into a Chinese city, where Chinese citizens rule.

“That is because they have a population crisis and they need to be sent somewhere. So we (Cambodia) have to strengthen the laws related to this type of immigration,” Preap Kol said in a video interview.

‘We need to fix Sihanoukville’ Q&A with Transparency International

Forest City in the state of Johor was to accommodate up to 700,000 residents. In its initial plans, the next ‘Shenzhen’ – as it was curiously billed parallel to the Sihanoukville of Cambodia – was to cover mangrove wetlands and fishing villages, transforming them into a new residential city.

The targeted buyers were Chinese citizens while businessmen and investors were lining up to get their share of the pie.

“The grandest real-estate development underway in Johor, the “next Shenzhen” is just 10 minutes by car from the Malaysian checkpoint and will one day cover what is now only sea, mangrove wetlands and fishing villages. The 20 sq km city, straddling four man-made islands, will eventually accommodate up to 700,000 residents,” the SCMP reported on Sept 1, 2017.

In an email to The Independent on Nov 19, the developer Country Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd (CGPV) wanted to get things straight following our article dated Nov 18 entitled ‘Malaysia can create cities, no need for foreign workers, Mahathir tells Najib’.

Malaysia can create cities, no need for foreign workers, Mahathir tells Najib

The email said the land where Forest City is currently developing is a joint venture between CGPV and the Johor State Government. It was never or in any way awarded by the previous administration, as land matters in Johor is a State matter.

“Forest City is not a residential township. It has a 416 acres industrial park, with the largest IBS facility in Asia and an upcoming pavers manufacturing factory. This is in line with Prime Minister’s statement on welcoming foreign investment in industrial parks.”

Sihanoukville has its own Special Economic Zone, built by China. It is called the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ).

“Cambodia Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) is an economic and trade cooperation zone constructed by Chinese and Cambodian enterprises, which is a landmark project on “Belt and Road” Initiative (BRI), aiming at creating an ideal trading platform for enterprises’ “investment in Asean, radiation to the world”,” one can read on the SSEZ’s website.

Even though Forest City is now transformed into 416 acres industrial park, the fact remains it was planned as a massive residential city, to begin with.

It looks like it was definitely part of China’s population ‘relocation’ plan, and that Malaysia under the regime of Najib Razak was to be a recipient of a large number of Chinese Citizens into the country.

This would confirm Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s fears during the May general elections of a massive invasion of Johor by Chinese citizens.

With this plan foiled, China is now pushing hard to get the Philippines on board. There will surely be plans for a large city and an industrial zone similar to the Sihanoukville’s SSEZ. All in the name of the BRI.

Nevertheless, Cambodia’s TI executive director Preap Kol told Khmer Times the massive investment coming from China into Sihanoukville has positive and negative effects on the province.

“With the changes in the province, we also started seeing some controversies linked to some Chinese citizens living in the province. There is disobedience by troublemakers. They use guns, drive cars fitted with fake Royal Cambodian Armed Force (RCAF) number plates, and are involved in illicit businesses.

“All this creates some difficulties for the locals when they visit or stay in the province. In the past, it was easy to find accommodation without any booking, but this is not the case anymore. Sihanoukville has lost its Khmer image. This is another change,” said Kol.

Did Malaysia escape from the frying pan of a Chinese citizen’s invasion of Johor to the fire of a new SSEZ-ala-Cambodia that will still bring its load of negative elements?