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Jakarta Post

Spooked by protests, Hong Kong citizens buy Malaysian homes

  • Krishna N. Das and Clare Jim


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia/ Hong Kong, China   /   Thu, August 22, 2019   /   07:07 pm
Spooked by protests, Hong Kong citizens buy Malaysian homes A Chinese tourist looks at the Malaysian landmark Petronas Twin Tower as she visits the city center park in Kuala Lumpur, 01 December 2005. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has slammed a deputy minister after he provoked a public furore in an apparent defence over the stripping of a Chinese woman by police, local media said. (AFP/Teh Eng Koon)

Hong Kong citizens have snapped up about 200 apartments in the past two months at a sprawling housing development in Malaysia, two estate agents said, a sign that some Hong Kongers are looking for homes elsewhere due to the political volatility at home.

The latest purchases will nearly double the number of apartments held by Hong Kong residents in the $100-billion Forest City developed by China's Country Garden Holdings Ltd on the southern tip of Malaysia.

Real estate agents expect Malaysia and Thailand to benefit the most from some Hong Kong residents' frustration over the second bout of lengthy anti-government demonstrations in five years in the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

The Forest City sales are among the first clear signs of large-scale purchases of Malaysian real estate by Hong Kong residents since the latest wave of protests started.

Forest City opened a sales office two years ago in Hong Kong, making it ideally positioned to benefit from increased interest in Malaysian property, agents said.

Bruce Lee, a consultant for VPC Asia Pacific and an agent for Forest City, said the purchases were being made by Hong Kong citizens who wanted to live in Malaysia, not as investments.

"These are people who already knew about the project and made inquiries, but this event triggered them to commit to it," Lee said by phone, referring to the protests.

"Every weekend people are coming and confirming buying."

Another agent for Forest City, asking not to be named, confirmed the purchases, citing the protests as the reason for a spike in interest.

Country Garden, which plans to build accommodations for up to 700,000 people in Forest City straddling several man-made islands, did not respond to a request for comment.

A marketing official at Forest City declined to confirm any new purchase but said that since its launch in early 2016, up to 200 Hong Kong residents had invested in the development. The official did not want to be named.

Each of the new units sold in the project neighbouring Singapore is priced above 1 million ringgit ($239,578), agent Lee said.

Reuters reported this week that a Malaysian programme to attract foreigners to live in the country had drawn 251 applications from Hong Kong residents this year, compared with 193 approved last year from the Chinese-ruled city.