JOHOR BARU: Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar has a vision to transform the state capital into a boutique city and financial hub.
He said he wants to personally attract investors to the state, not only from China but the Middle East to start projects in Johor.
"My strategy now will be to market and get investors to build. I also want to bring investors to the islands off Johor. I have a vision for Johor," he said in an exclusive interview with The Star.
Q: On the subject of development in the state, what are your hopes and what should be focused on?
A: The government must give incentives to developers to spur development. My advice to the state and federal governments is, be consistent to attract long-term investors. You should not have a policy during good times and another during the bad. Do not make policies without engaging the public or developer associations.
I know there is a slowdown now. Banks should be more relaxed towards developers and banks should also grant loans to people to buy homes. Unfortunately, banks are not doing much to help developers.
Whatever you say about a slowdown in Johor, there is still a market and the huge Forest City project, which was launched recently, for example, has started selling.
I also just launched Coronation Square and the Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD). These are exciting projects, as the IIBD will enable Johor Baru to achieve world city status and metropolis status soon.
These projects, spearheaded by the Johor Corporation, cover about 100ha of prime real estate in the city.
Of this zone, about 2.53ha will be turned into Coronation Square, which will comprise medical suites, blocks of serviced apartments, an office tower and a hotel.
I expect this strategic development to change the face of Johor, including a major increase in population.
I am sure there will be huge multiplier effects as ordinary Johoreans will be able to enjoy the spillover effects, especially for small businesses in the retail and food and beverage sectors. Surely, hundreds of thousands of new jobs will also be created.
I want Johor Baru to emerge as a boutique city and financial hub in the future.
I will be travelling soon after my mourning period and will start bringing in investors directly into Johor – not just the Chinese but also investors from the Middle East.
During my next Kembara Mahkota, I will bring investors to all my other districts, including Muar. My strategy now will be to market and get investors to build. I also want to bring investors to the islands off Johor.
That is why incentives are important to lure investors. I have a vision for Johor.
Q: Tuanku, recently the name of the state administration capital Nusajaya was changed to Iskandar Puteri, while Kulaijaya was changed back to Kulai and Ledang to Tangkak. Any reasons for the sudden name changes?
A: What was Kulai’s original name? Why add Jaya to the back of these names (Kulaijaya and Nusajaya)? I discussed with my Mentri Besar and my Council of Royal Court and there is no such thing as Nusajaya.
The first name given to Johor Baru in those days was Iskandar Puteri, but the late Sultan Abu Bakar replaced it with Johor Baru in 1866. Iskandar Puteri is full of history and suitable to replace Nusajaya. That is why I want the original names back, including Tangkak.
Also, the changes in name were made without consulting my late father or me. Why were we not consulted? Even when they wanted to house the government buildings in Iskandar Puteri (Nusajaya), we were not consulted.
I remember my late father asking the previous Mentri Besar about the area and he only said they were constructing additional buildings because Johor Baru was too congested. Now, government buildings are housed in a noisy area opposite a firing range in Singapore.