PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad should support the development of Iskandar Malaysia as the project will give Malaysia a competitive edge over Singapore in terms of high-impact foreign investments, says a veteran Umno leader.
Shahrir Samad, the Johor Bahru MP, pointed out that since Mahathir had always been suspicious of Singapore, he should therefore support the government’s plans with Iskandar Malaysia as the project would make the country more competitive than their neighbour down south.
“This project will reduce our dependency on Singapore and in fact, will make us their competition,” he was quoted as saying by Malay daily Sinar Harian.
In a blog posting earlier this week, Mahathir said it did not make sense for Johoreans to move into the luxury dwellings being built in the Iskandar Malaysia region that could accommodate 1.5 million people. He said that neither would it make sense to have 1.5 million foreigners stay near Johor Bahru.
According to Shahrir, Mahathir’s statement was motivated by his own political interests, and his quest to get the support of Johoreans for his new political party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
“During the initial stages of the Iskandar project, Mahathir claimed that Johoreans would be sidelined once Singapore took over Johor Bahru.
“Now he is saying that BN will take the opportunity to offer citizenship to the Chinese who will come here, so they can vote.
“This is just a political ploy,” Shahrir said.
Shahrir also rubbished claims that the properties in Iskandar Malaysia would be owned by foreigners, saying the state government was only implementing sales policies that had been in place since Mahathir’s administration.
“Once this region is fully developed, we won’t give up the land or properties to Singapore. Mahathir himself allowed foreigners to purchase properties in Malaysia (at one time),” he added.