PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad has denied endorsing the Forest City development project in Johor when he was the prime minister after Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over Putrajaya in May 2018.
In a blogpost, Mahathir, who was critical of the project in the run-up to the 14th general election (GE14), said the PH administration he led could not cancel the project as it would involve paying billions of ringgit in compensation.
He was responding to criticisms by former prime minister Najib Razak who mocked the Langkawi MP for having presented Forest City with a certificate of appreciation after the developer amended its plans for the project in line with the then government’s wishes.
Mahathir said he had been invited by then housing and local government minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to attend an inauguration ceremony and to present the certificate to Forest City in February 2019.
“It was not an endorsement of the Forest City project that was approved (earlier) by the Najib administration.”
The luxury township along Johor’s Tebrau Strait is being developed by Country Garden Pacificview and consists of high-rise buildings and waterfront villas on four artificial islands.
Mahathir also criticised Najib for the country’s “RM1 trillion” debt situation and cited the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) as another expensive project approved by the latter’s administration.
“What could be done (then) was to reduce the cost of the project,” he said.
“The PH government was able to save RM20 billion through negotiations with contractors.”