JOHOR BARU - The Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar has thrown a challenge to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad - show Johor the big investors from Arab countries, Australia or the United States "instead of China bashing".
He expressed his unhappiness that race had been used by some politicians to stir the emotions of Johoreans, saying that "this is a clear case of economic sabotage and racial instigating".
"If investors wish to pump money into Johor Baru, do we say 'no, no, if you are from China, you cannot come'.
"Is there such logic? Anyone in their right mind knows that Chinese investors are among the richest and most influential now.
"So why should there be a problem? I welcome all investors," Sultan Ibrahim said.
"Dr Mahathir thinks it is easy to play up race because these investors happen to be from China.
"This is utterly disgusting," he added.
His Royal Highness said that Malaysian companies, with Chinese and Malay collaboration, would also benefit from the setting up of these mainland Chinese companies here.
In an interview, he said Johor needed to aggressively promote itself to attract new businesses to the state.
"That is why I, too, have been going around to bring investors to the state.
"We need more countries to set up trade missions in Johor, similar to (what's being done by) the government of British Columbia, Canada.
"British Columbia will open a new Trade and Investment Representative office in JB by March. We cannot be choosy with whom we do business with.
"We have been successful in attracting Chinese companies, maybe we should also attract companies from India and other parts," he said.
His Royal Highness also cited the Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD) as a good project to propel the state forward.
Launched in November 2015, the IIBD is targeted at pushing Johor Baru to become a world city and metropolis by 2020.
The main component of the project, which covers 101ha, is the Coronation Square which will include a medical suite, three blocks of service apartments, an office tower and a hotel building.
"The Federal Government must give special incentives and tax breaks to ensure the success of such projects, which will attract many foreign companies and talents to the state.
"We will also have the High Speed Rail project between Singapore and Bandar Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. These are exciting times for Johoreans.
"As custodian of my people, I know what is best for Johoreans," he added.