Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he regards China as a friend of Malaysia but differed on what constitutes foreign direct investment (FDI) from the Asian giant.
Responding to a question during a live video conference interview with the Wall Street Journal here yesterday, the Prime Minister said Malaysia welcomed FDI from all countries, including China.
He said FDI was about bringing in capital, technology, setting up plants, employing Malaysians up to the level of executives and producing goods for the local and export markets.
“We do not consider coming into Malaysia, buying up huge pieces of land and developing towns and cities and then bringing in foreigners into this country as FDI. That is the difference,” he said.
Asked to specify projects in the country which he had concerns about, Dr Mahathir said there were pieces of land being sold to Chinese companies to build large cities.
“One city in the south will have about 700,000 people. These cities being built will have very expensive, luxurious apartments.
“Not many Malaysians can afford to buy, and the indigenous people who are among the poorest in this country will certainly not be able to avail themselves of this new development,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the inhabitants in the new cities would be mostly foreigners, including from China.
He said many countries, including the United States and some in Europe, would likely restrain any large influx of foreigners into their territory.
“We have the same problem, we have to restrict immigration and accept only a certain number that we can deal with,” Dr Mahathir added.