Malaysia doubles size of Johor’s Iskandar corridor, SE Asia News & Top Stories

JOHOR BARU • The Malaysian government has doubled the size of the Iskandar Malaysia investment corridor 13 years after its inception, with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad saying yesterday that the move would help the country’s growth.

The region currently encompasses most of southern Johor, totalling 2,217 sq km – about three times the size of Singapore.

It is being expanded to cover an area of 4,749 sq km.

The new areas will include parts of Kluang in central Johor, Kota Tinggi in the east and Pontian in the west.

The decision to expand the region was made during the 24th Members of Authority meeting of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda), a government agency responsible for the region’s growth.

“The progress of Iskandar steadily charted since 2006 has been truly spectacular and will be key in helping Malaysia reclaim its leadership as an Asean Tiger,” said Tun Dr Mahathir, Irda’s co-chairman, in a statement. He was referring to the country’s 1990s status as a fast-growing “tiger economy”.

“As the agency driving the development of Iskandar, I remain optimistic on the role and responsibilities of Irda in supporting the development of Johor and the nation’s agenda,” he said.

Irda chief executive Ismail Ibrahim said that with the larger area, Iskandar should be able to offer more land for development at an affordable cost, and offer modern agriculture as one of its new promoted sectors.

The Iskandar region is among the fastest-growing in Malaysia outside the Klang Valley, which encompasses capital city Kuala Lumpur and its Petaling Jaya suburbs.

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The Iskandar region includes Johor’s capital of Johor Baru, Iskandar Puteri township (formerly Nusajaya), Senai international airport, Forest City township, Johor Port and the Port of Tanjung Pelepas.

Iskandar, named after Johor’s late Sultan Iskandar Sultan Ismail, drew investment commitments worth RM32.23 billion (S$10.7 billion) last year, with RM22.03 billion realised so far.

Since its 2006 beginnings to the end of last year, Iskandar has seen investments totalling RM285.34 billion.

These included billions of ringgit of government funds to build infrastructure such as roads and water-supply systems, and landmarks such as Legoland and Puteri Harbour for private yachts, as well as branches of international universities and hotels.

Factories were also set up in the region’s industrial parks.

“To date, local investors contributed 62 per cent of the investments with RM194.81 billion, while the balance was from foreign investors,” the statement said.

Top foreign investors include those from China, Singapore, the United States, Japan and Spain.

From 2006 to last year, the service sector that includes tourism, education, finance, healthcare, creative and logistics recorded a total of RM28.9 billion in investments.