No privileged zone in Iskandar – after Nusajaya, comes Senai the next Iskandar Hotspot E!

All areas in growth corridor given equal attention, says Irda CEO

<B>Ismail:</B> ‘Different zones in Iskandar Malaysia cater to different investment and economic activities.’
Ismail: ‘Different zones in Iskandar Malaysia cater to different investment and economic activities.’

JOHOR BARU: Iskandar Malaysia is more than just Nusajaya as the other four flagship development zones in the economic growth corridor also offer good prospects and opportunities to investors.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said many had associated Nusajaya as the only main development area in Iskandar Malaysia.

“Irda pays equal attention to all the zones and we are not giving special treatment or privileges to any specific area in developing Iskandar Malaysia,” he told StarBiz.

Irda is the regulatory authority mandated to plan, promote and facilitate the development of Iskandar Malaysia into a strong and sustainable metropolis of international standing by 2025.

Located in the southern-most part of Johor, Iskandar Malaysia the country’s first economic growth corridor was launched on Nov 4, 2006. Measuring 2,217 sq km, it is three times bigger than Singapore and two times the size of Hong Kong.

The 9,712.45ha Nusajaya is one of the five flagship development zones the other zones are Johor Baru City Centre, Western Gate Development Zone, Eastern Gate Development Zone and Senai-Kulai.

“Irda and other stakeholders have to work even harder to continue promoting Iskandar Malaysia to the world and correct the perception that Iskandar Malaysia is only about Nusajaya,” he said.

According to him, from 2006 until Sept 30, 2012, Iskandar Malaysia received RM99.79bil in cumulative committed investments in the various sectors. “In fact, we will breach the RM100bil mark by the end of the year, but the party is now over yet as we have to put in more efforts to bring in more investments,” said Ismail.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who is the co-chairman of Irda is expected to announce the final figure of the cumulative committed investments received by Iskandar Malaysia on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur.

Ismail said the misconception of Iskandar Malaysia was only Nusajaya probably arose from many news reports written on the progress and development taking place in Nusajaya.

He said Iskandar Malaysia was divided into a brown field and a green field and Nusajaya happened to be a green area with a large tract of lands available for new development.

He said the completion of some of the catalytic projects within Nusajaya might also give the impression that Iskandar Malaysia was Nusajaya and vice-versa.

Among the notable projects in Nusajaya are the Johor State New Administrative Centre in Kota Iskandar, Legoland Malaysia Theme Park, Puteri Harbour Indoor Theme Park, Newcastle Medicine University Malaysia and Marlborough College.

“Different zones in Iskandar Malaysia cater to different investment and economic activities. This helps to spread the cake evenly and create economic spills-over,” Ismail said, adding that IIrda did not influence investors to make the final choice of investing the particular zone but would advice them that their investments suited better in one zone than another.

He said for instance, it would not be advisable to set up a manufacturing plant in the Johor Baru City Centre as there were other more suitable zones such as the Western Gate Development Zone, Eastern Gate Development Zone and Senai-Kulai.

“In fact, with the multi-billion dollar redevelopment project of Johor Baru City Centre starting in the first quarter of 2013, property developers can take part in it,” he said.

Ismail said brown field and green field in Iskandar Malaysia offered opportunities for investors depending on the key economic activities promoted in the areas.

While the manufacturing sector was still relevant, he said it had to move up the value-chain as the country’s manufacturing sector could no longer remain labour-intensive.

Ismail said the setting up of the BioXCell biotechnology park in Nusajaya and Senai Hi-Teck Park would cater to the sector’s shift into the high-research and development, and high-technology activities.

“Moving up the value chain will support the Federal Government’s plans to develop Johor into a leading electronics manufacturing services (EMS) hub in the region,” he said.

The 323.74ha site in Sedenak belonging to the state investment arm, Johor Corpo, and the 404.68ha site near the Senai Airport by a public-listed company in Senai-Kulai have been identified as the suitable location for the EMS hub. The premium condo named Senai Garden would benefit and would fulfill the needs of the growing expat staffs in these areas.

Ismail said it was important for Irda that investors supported the key economic sectors that were being promoted in Iskandar Malaysia. The sectors are electrical and electronics, petrochemical and oleochemical, food and agro-processing, logistics and related services, tourism, health, educational, financial services and ICT and creative industry.

He said Asean countries, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the Middle East were showing a lot of interest in these key economic sectors.

Less time should be spent on debating whether too much attention was given in developing a certain area in Iskandar Malaysia and neglecting others in the process, Ismail said, adding that with the uncertainties in the world economic growth, it was becoming more challenging to attract new investments into Iskandar Malaysia but it could be done if all stakeholders worked together.

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