Moving ahead with SEZ plan

Future sight: Onn Hafiz spent over an hour speaking about the JS-SEZ during the state legislative assembly sitting in Kota Iskandar, Johor.

Johor state govt proposes sites, outlines benefits of S’pore tie-up

ISKANDAR PUTERI: Johor has proposed setting up the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (JS-SEZ) in the Iskandar Malaysia region and Pengerang.

Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi said this would involve an area of 3,505 sq km and six local councils.

“Since the memorandum of understanding was signed between Malaysia and Singapore on Jan 11, a total of eight working groups have been formed involving federal and state departments and agencies,” he told the state assembly at Kota Iskandar here yesterday.

The areas handled by the working groups are governance; economic sector; tax and incentives; talent; ease of doing business; ease of movement for goods, services and people; infrastructure and utilities; and land matters, he said.

Besides putting forward Iskandar Malaysia and Pengerang as the locations for the JS-SEZ, Johor also proposed 16 economic sectors expected to give economic spillover benefits to the people.

Onn Hafiz listed the sectors as electrical and electronics, medical, pharmaceutical, aviation, speciality chemicals, logistics, healthcare, education, finance and business services, energy, digital economy, tourism, food and agricultural technology, creative industry, halal industry, as well as manufacturing.

The Mentri Besar added that an engagement session would be organised by the state government and Economy Ministry in early June to provide a platform for all state assemblymen and community leaders to give their feedback, views and suggestions to ensure that the JS-SEZ would really benefit the people.

“An official engagement session between both countries is also expected to kick off next month,” he said, adding that the state and federal governments were committed to ensuring that the JS-SEZ agreement is finalised and signed by the end of the year.

“I am confident that with the help of the JS-SEZ, Johor can become the Shenzhen of South-East Asia. In terms of geographical makeup, Shenzhen-Hong Kong is quite similar to Johor-Singapore,” he said.

Onn Hafiz also brought up the state government’s trip to Shenzhen in March, where the Johor delegation met with 40 potential Chinese investors and also Meng Fanli, the Communist Party of China secretary of Shenzhen.

He recounted the tale of how Shenzhen managed to transform itself from a humble fishing village with a population of 300,000 into a metropolis of 17 million residents in four decades.

“Secretary Meng shared with us their recipe for success: governance reforms to reduce bureaucracy and increase transparency, with an emphasis on openness towards policy changes, technology and knowledge transfer, and innovation in order to remain competitive,” said Onn Hafiz.

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