PUTRAJAYA, Apr 25 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today rejected a news report claiming his administration was in talks with local billionaires to open a casino in Forest City, Johor.

Anwar, who is also the finance minister, categorically denied that the government was weighing the idea of issuing a second casino licence in the country.

“Those who brought up the idea on casino licence are telling a lie, that’s not right,” Anwar said when met by reporters here at a joint Hari Raya open house by Housing and Local Government Ministry and Communications Ministry.

The prime minister was responding to a Bloomberg news report, which claimed to quote people familiar with the matter as saying that the opening of a casino would revive the US$100 billion (RM478.35 billion) property project.


It was reported that Anwar had met Berjaya Corp Bhd founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Genting Group’s Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay last week at the development on the southern coast of Malaysia near Singapore.

A spokesman for Berjaya has, however, reportedly said the company is not aware of any conversation between Anwar and Tan on the potential development of any casino in Forest City.

According to national news agency Bernama, 70 per cent of the property development at Forest City in Iskandar Puteri, Johor has been sold within the past two years and is set to continue to increase over the next three to four years.


In January, Anwar and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong witnessed the signing of the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (JS-SEZ) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries.

Last September, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi said the establishment of the JS-SEZ would be modelled after the Shenzhen Economic Zone in China, which managed to record a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of RM1.93 trillion in 2021.

Last August, Forest City, a mixed development mega project on four artificial islands in Johor’s western waters, was announced as a Special Financial Zone (SFZ).

The designation will see more than 2832.79 hectares in Forest City allocated to the SFZ as part of foreign investment to boost the economic development of the area.