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Monday, 19 February 2018

(The Star) Johor poised to become economic powerhouse

Johor has the right ecosystem and is moving on the right track in developing, positioning and transforming itself as the new economic powerhouse in the southern region.

The next 10 years, dubbed as the “Golden Decade” for Johor, will propel the southernmost state in the peninsula in terms of development, progress and economic growth.

The progress and development taking place in south Johor, where Iskandar Malaysia is located and is being transformed into an international metropolis, is the best example of how Johor can achieve its mission and vision.

The Johor government has experienced tremendous development in the last decade in Iskandar Malaysia, thanks to its initiatives and efforts.

Launched on Nov 4, 2006, the country’s first economic growth corridor – Iskandar Malaysia – is spread over 2,217 sq km, and is three times bigger than Singapore and two times the size of Hong Kong.

Since its inception, it received RM253bil in investments as of Dec 31, 2017, and targets to achieve RM383bil when the economic corridor reaches maturity in 2025.

While progress and development in Iskandar Malaysia is only confined to south Johor, the state government wants to bring development to other areas beyond Iskandar Malaysia too.

Concerted, collective and continuous efforts are needed from all stakeholders in Johor to fully support the mammoth task undertaken by the state government to take the state to the next level.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said Johor must move forward in its quest to become the new economic powerhouse in the region.

He said while it would not be an easy task ahead as there could be many challenges and obstacles along the way, it could only be achieved if all Johoreans played their part.

Khaled said Johor highly appreciated the contributions made by Malaysians from other states in the development and progress of Johor.

He said while Johor embraced the Bangsa Johor concept, they also welcomed those from other states who had made Johor their home.

“Johoreans and non-Johoreans are contributing directly and indirectly to the progress of the state,’’ Khaled said.

He said Malaysians from other states living in Johor had also benefitted from the development and would continue to do so in the coming years as Johor progresses.

Iskandar Malaysia is the best model on how development of an economic growth corridor in the country took place with the participation of all stakeholders.

The state authorities need to translate the new key economic sectors in the next 10 years under its development plan into a reality and enhance the existing traditional economic activities along the way.

Johor is fortunate due to its close proximity to Singapore, an international trade and financial centre.

It is a well-known fact that Johor and Singapore depend on each other economically, with thousands of Malaysians crossing over to the republic daily to work.


At the same time, Singaporeans love to shop and dine in Johor Baru due to the strong Singapore dollar, with many of them owning properties especially in Iskandar Malaysia.

Interest in Johor from domestic and foreign investors remains strong despite uncertainties and challenges in the global economic growth.

The state government has taken the right step by diversifying its economic portfolio in view of the challenges posed by the global economic situation.

Oil and gas, bio-economy, green technology, halal-based products, hospitality and services and logistics have been identified as some of the new economic sectors to spearhead Johor’s growth.

Johor tourism, trade and consumerism committee chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said gone were the days when Johor could depend only on a particular economic sector or activity.

“Diversifying the economy will help us achieve our mission and vision to position and develop Johor as the new regional economic powerhouse,” he said.

Johor is no longer depending on a particular economic sector such as manufacturing, and over the past decade has diversified its economic portfolio and ventured into value-added investments.

The state has already established itself as the manufacturing hub in the southern region.

Statistics from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority shows that Johor attracted RM93bil in investments in the manufacturing sector, the highest in the country from 2013 to 2016.

The state also received a shot in the arm from the Federal Government with multi-billion ringgit mega projects to be implemented in the state within the next five to 10 years.

They are the Gemas-Johor Baru electrified double-tracking railway system, the High Speed Rail (HSR), the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link (RTS Link) and Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit System (IMBRT).

Improvement in connectivity and accessibility will attract more visitors, businessmen and investors to Johor.

As of February, Johor received good news with the reduction in levy and toll charges at the Johor Causeway and the Second Link Crossing in Tanjung Kupang, Gelang Patah.

The move by both Malaysia and Singapore governments will create economic spillover for Johor, namely in the tourism, retail, hospitality and manufacturing sectors.

From Jan 1, Malaysia also abolished toll charges at the Johor Causeway for vehicles using the Eastern Dispersal Link and Singapore followed by abolishing toll charges for vehicles exiting the Woodlands checkpoint.

Malaysia also reduced levy for lorries using the Second Link to RM50 this month, from the RM250 levy at the Johor Causeway if they used the Second Link to reduce congestion at the Johor Causeway.

From Feb 13, Malaysia reduced toll charges for vehicles using the Second Link and starting from April 1, Singapore will reduce charges at their Tuas checkpoint during peak and non-peak hours.