• Johor is located only 2 kilometers from Singapore.

Johor is located only 2 kilometers from Singapore. (Photo : Wikimedia)

Malaysia's Department of Environment has approved the construction and reclamation of a luxury housing project that is being built on an artificial island in the Johor Strait. The project is being invested in by Yang Guoqiang, a Chinese developer, reported People's Daily Online.

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The project dubbed Forest City is valued at an estimated 250 billion yuan ($58.3 billion) and is scheduled for completion in 2035.

Located in the Iskandar Development Region of Johor Bahru, the second largest city in Malaysia that is separated from Singapore by sea, the development covers an area of almost 14 square kilometers, nearly half the size of the entirety of Macau. It is being pegged as a "city at sea," consisting of four artificial islands.

The reclamation process began in 2014 and stirred a considerable amount of controversy. Several residents were concerned that the project would be harmful to the surrounding environment.

Even the Singaporean government expressed its concern that the project was located too close to the border between Singapore and Malaysia, being only 2 kilometers from the former.

Country Garden Pacificview Sdn. Bhd. (CGPV), the developer of the Forest City project, announced in Jan. 2015 that its assessment report of the environmental impact had been approved by the Malaysia government.

According to Yang, Forest City is only two kilometers from Singapore, a distance that can be swum by some people.

"Dubai built a city in the desert and we will build a Forest City in the Iskandar Development Region, with a Singaporean lifestyle and the economics of Malaysia," said Yang.

However, several local politicians have expressed that, even though the project had gotten approval, there is still cause for concern in its implementation. There are fears among them that the government of Malaysia could possibly ignore the environmental costs in favor of excessive economic development.