Monday August 30, 2010
More S’pore investments expected in Iskandar
By ZAZALI MUSA
JOHOR BARU: Iskandar Malaysia can expect more investments from Singapore in the economic growth corridor with the improvement in bilateral ties between Malaysia and Singapore.
Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Ismail Ibrahim said there was now a feel-good factor on both sides of the causeway following the positive diplomatic relations.
He said the new development augur well for Iskandar and that it had been busy hosting trade visits by Singapore investors and companies to South Johor.
“Previously, Singapore investors were reluctant to invest in a huge way in Johor for reasons they knew best, but this has changed now,’’ Ismail said in an interview with StarBiz.
He said that just a week after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s visit to the republic in May, Irda hosted a trade delegation by 92 members of the Singapore Business Federation.
Ismail said it would receive several trade delegations representing a wide spectrum of Singapore industries to Iskandar this and next month, alongside private visits by investors there.
He said many were taking the cue from the commitment shown by Najib and his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong for the two countries to work closely for mutual economic benefits.
This, Ismail said, was reflected in the involvement of Malaysia and Singapore’s investment arms, Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Temasek Holdings Ltd, to jointly develop an iconic wellness township project in a 50:50 joint venture in Iskandar.
According to Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, who is also Irda’s co-chairman with Najib, the project would be developed on a 202ha site in Danga Bay here and works were likely to start by the year-end.
“By engaging Khazanah and Temasek, both prime ministers are sending a clear signal and message to investors that Iskandar is attractive to local and foreign investors,’’ Ismail said.
He said that of the RM741mil invested in manufacturing projects in Iskandar in the first five months of the year, RM221mil in 12 projects came from Singapore, mainly in the electrical and electronics, machine and engineering support services, food processing and metal fabrication.
From 2006 to May 2010, there were 217 projects from Singapore including new and expansion projects amounting to RM3.17bil, the majority of which was in the manufacturing sector, making the city-state the second largest investor in Johor after Spain with its stainless steel plant in Tanjung Langsat, Pasir Gudang.
Ismail said Malaysia and Singapore could collaborate in the biotechnology sector, banking on Singapore’s strength in the research field while Johor’s rich biodiversity in flora and fauna offered endless bioprospecting activities.