Illegal workers: Forest City developer prepared for checks

forest-city-china-illegal-workerPETALING JAYA: The developer of Johor’s Forest City is prepared to be inspected after reports that hundreds of illegal workers from China were hired to work on the mega project.

Country Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd (CGPV) told news portal Malaysiakini that the immigration department would be welcomed “most warmly” if it decided to inspect the project.

This came as part of the news portal’s report on the migrant worker situation at Forest City. The project itself, touted as a futuristic global metropolis, was recently the centre of concern as critics said it could become a white elephant which the Johor state government would have to bail out.

This was especially so in light of China’s move to impose capital controls as the project mostly targets affluent buyers from China.

A South China Morning Post (SCMP) report quoted Raymond Cheng, Hong Kong-based property analyst at CIMB Securities, as saying that the Forest City project was in fact losing its shine.

Cheng also warned that the project didn’t have much appeal for Malaysians and that China’s crackdown on capital outflows would slow sales in China, SCMP said.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini said hundreds of illegal migrant workers from China, who had come to Malaysia under tourist visas had been forced to return home, while others opted to continue working illegally.

Either way, the portal said, they were subjected to delayed payments and exploitation.

Following this, the immigration department said it would raid the project while Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said his ministry would consider legalising the immigrant workers under its rehiring programme, Malaysiakini reported.

The rehiring programme was launched by the home ministry on Feb 15 and will run until June 30. It is meant for illegal workers in the peninsula to apply for work permits to meet job demands in several sectors: construction, plantation, services, manufacturing and agriculture.

Forest City is a futuristic smart city project being built in Johor on four man-made islands spanning 1,385.6ha. Costing RM100 billion, it is expected to be completed within 20 years and will have a range of facilities, including housing units, offices and shopping malls.

CGPV is 66%-owned by Country Garden Holdings through Malaysian-registered subsidiaries Country Garden Waterfront Sdn Bhd, Country Garden Danga Bay Sdn Bhd and Country Garden Real Estate Sdn Bhd.