DOE limits controversial Johor Straits housing project over environmental concerns

The Malaysian Insider
5 January 2015

China developer Country Gardens Holdings can only develop less than 1,000 acres (405ha) or a quarter of its controversial 1,600 hectares Forest City project in the Johor Straits under new limits set by the Department of Environment (DOE).

The Malaysian Insider has learnt that the DOE has verbally informed Country Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd (CGP), a joint-venture unit of Country Gardens Holdings Co Ltd, of the new limits after complaints from locals and the Singapore government over reclamation works in the narrow waterway between Malaysia and the island state.

“The DOE has decided to limit the project to the first phase and wait for a few years to see the impact before looking at future phases,” a source told The Malaysian Insider.

“The DOE is expected to send an official letter about its decision soon to relevant parties,” he added.

Country Gardens Holdings is China’s seventh-largest property developer with a market capitalisation of HK$63 billion as of December 31, 2014. Its financial revenue for the financial year ended June 30, 2014, was HK$38.3 billion with HK$5.5 billion nett profit.

Another source said Malaysian environmental authorities made their decision after Singapore presented videos and documentary proof of continued reclamation works for the ambitious China-Malaysia joint-venture project.

It is understood that the evidence was presented at the last Malaysia-Singapore Joint Commission on Environment (MSJCE) which met last month.

Singapore had raised the issue of reclamation works near its sea border as it had effects on its coastal areas. The reclamation works had also affected Malaysia’s nearby key transhipment hub, the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP).

Last September, the Johor government said it wanted Country Garden Pacificview (CGP) Sdn Bhd, the developer of Forest City, to comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before developing the project at Tanjung Kupang, Gelang Patah.

Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin had said it was important to ensure issues such as environment were given full attention and regulations were adhered to.

“We hope the developer complies with the requirement to submit an EIA report, which is very important for us to ensure all concerns, including from the environmental aspects, are given attention,” he said in Johor Baru.

A public dialogue on Forest City’s Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) turned chaotic on September 2, 2014, when the developer was confronted with all kind of enquiries from the residents in Kampung Pok affected by the project.

They expressed dissatisfaction for not being consulted before the implementation of the project, which involved the construction of a 1,600-hectare man-made island, which was seen as polluting the environment and jeopardising the area’s marine ecology.

The developers had reportedly voluntarily stopped sea reclamation to build the island, which was 30% completed, on June 15, 2014, although there was no official DOE notice.

The Forest City project, which has gross development value (GDV) estimated at RM600 billion on reclaimed land, is a joint venture between KPRJ, a Johor state government owned subsidiary and Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd.

Country Gardens first entered Malaysia in 2011 in a joint-venture with Mayland Group to develop two parcels of land in Semenyih and Rawang.

The China developer ventured into Johor in 2012 when it acquired 22 hectares of waterfront and in Danga Bay for nearly RM1 billion. It launched Phase One of the Danga Pay project in 2013 where over 1,500 units were snapped up in three days.

It launched Phase Two of the Danga Bay project in 2014 which has sold over 6,000 units to date. Danga Bay is part of Malaysia’s ambitious Iskandar Region corridor to develop the southern state as the Shenzhen to Singapore. – January 5, 2015.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 6 January 2015 - 11:20 am

    It may mean nothing at all given Country Garden deny any restriction has been imposed on them. We know in Malaysia, such things can be changed easily after a certain time and when rakyat attention shift elsewhere and there is money to be made by the powerful..

  2. #2 by Justice Ipsofacto on Tuesday, 6 January 2015 - 5:37 pm

    Look. The decision to scale down the approval originally given was only temporary. The chinese developer were told to wait a few years. That decision to limit the development is as good as worthless. The current development could well take a few years – long enough to tie the chinese party over the waiting period. By the time the current works are completed (in a few years time) the umno gobermen – banking on the fact that ppl would have forgotten the issue – would review the limits now imposed and who knows reverse their decision.

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