JOHOR BARU: The successful progress of the nation’s top economic corridor, Iskandar Malaysia, in the past 10 years has surpassed the expectations of former Johor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Othman.
Abdul Ghani, who was key in realising the Iskandar Malaysia concept, said the corridor has all the right tools needed to see its success.
“To begin with, Iskandar is very well located in the context of a corridor as it has both sea and land ports as well as vast brownfields and greenfields.
“We started by enhancing the infrastructure, particularly the road system and later proceeded with catalytic progress, which has strong multiple effects,” he told The Star when met at Iskandar Malaysia’s 10 year anniversary celebration recently.
He added that it was not an easy feat to draw in investors from different parts of the world but in the past 10 years, Iskandar Malaysia managed to attract enough interest and that translated into full commitment from the investors.
“Initially, we faced some hiccups in terms of raking in investments, as investors from the Middle East who were supposed to be the major source of investments did not pull through because of their own issues.
“Nonetheless, Iskandar has vast areas of greenfields and some brownfields that could bring in the investments,” he added.
Abdul Ghani noted that Iskandar was undeniably the best corridor in the country so far and its success was proven with investments hitting over RM221bil, surpassing the target of about RM215bil.
“The brownfields are where you can fit in new investments with existing facilities but we also have another side to Iskandar, which is a huge track of greenfields, where with the right kind of infrastructure you can attract major investors,” he said.
He also stressed that in order to meet the targeted population growth, more investments that create good job opportunities should be given focus.
“Currently, there is over-emphasis on the property development sector.
“There should be a wider range of investments that can create employment with above average salaries, as it will lead to stronger purchasing power and in turn, a stronger multiplying effect,” he said.
The Government has been urged to focus on three aspects in developing Iskandar Malaysia to ensure the south economic corridor is able to reach its target by 2025.
Ghani along with former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi received special recognition from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for their contributions to the success of Iskandar.
Meanwhile, at another event in Iskandar Puteri, Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim said the three aspects were security, building a better transport system network and creation of employment opportunities for the locals.
“I have been following the growth of Iskandar Malaysia closely as it is connected with the development of the rakyat in Johor.
“I believe we need to focus on these three aspects to ensure that Iskandar Malaysia continues to be on the right track to achieve the target,” he said in his speech during the unveiling of Fastrackcity logo and circuit design at Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios here recently.
Tunku Ismail, who is the Fastrack Iskandar chairman, pointed out that the security aspect should be given attention.
“Secondly, connectivity between Johor and Singapore should be upgraded either through air, land or sea while lastly, developing human capital through increase in skills is a must to cater to the demand of industries,” he added.
On another matter, Tunku Ismail also dismissed reports that there was an oversupply of houses in the state because of the rapid growth of Iskandar Malaysia.
“Such allegations are untrue as Johor needs 666,000 of residential units while currently, there are only about 410,000 units.
“Based on the figure, allegations that there is an oversupply of residential properties in the state is baseless,” he said.