Monday, April 14, 2008

Iskandar Malaysia

The Prime Minister who is also holding the portfolio of Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had on 11th March announced the change of name of the "Iskandar Development Region (IDR)" to "Iskandar Malaysia". I wrote on IDR when it was first announced in early 2007.

It is worth noting that this is the 2nd time the name of the project has been changed since it was launched in July 2006, which was initially named "South Johor Development Corridor (SJER)". The frequency at which the name of the project has been changed reflects badly on our government and administrators for it serves to embed confusion amongst investors. In addition, it also reflects a leadership which is unable to make up its mind and stick with a decision, at least for a meaningful period, once it has been made. This reflection certainly does not bode well in breeding investor confidence for our projects.

At the same time, the Finance Minister has declared that Iskandar Malaysia is on target to reach its investment target of RM47 billion within the next 2 years as the project has already "secured" 70% of its investment target, or almost RM33 billion. If the figure announced reflects reality, then certainly, it is an impressive feat achieved by the Government.

Hence it is of utmost importance for the Finance Minister to announce the details of investments which have been committed to date for Iskandar Malaysia to establish the credibility of the Government. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must declare:
  1. Of the [RM14 billion] of investments "secured", what is the breakdown between contractually-bound investment agreements, e.g., those with penalty clauses for termination; and those which are based on "memorandums of understanding (MOUs)" not bound by contract?

  2. Of the "secured" investments, what is the breakdown between the Government of Malaysia, local Malaysian private investors and foreign direct investors?

  3. Of the "secured" investments, how much of the committed funds have been invested, in Iskandar Malaysia?
The people of Malaysia wishes Iskandar Malaysia to be an unqualified success, particularly in attracting renewed value-added foreign direct investment to the country. However, to do so, the Finance Minister must provide the necessary information for us to evaluate the status of the project and to come up with the necessary plans to ensure its success.

It is hoped that in the light of the results of the 12th General Elections, the Government will adopt a new culture of transparency to allow for greater contribution by parliamentarians and Malaysians in general.

(Check out Wikipedia for more info on Iskandar Malaysia)


Bunda said...

Dear Tony,

As you are now an MP, I'm' sure you will bring this up in Parliament at the appropriate time as well. Might as well have the question recorded in the hansard so that no one can say it wasn't asked.

Also, it would be good if you could enquire as to how much tax monies are collected from the hard working rakyat, on a per state basis, including the FT of Kuala Lumpur.

And, then compare that to how the taxes are distributed. We'd like to know how our tax monies are being disbursed.

If the collection and distribution appears to be unfair, let's protest and work towards taxation reform as well.



Carling said...

I spoke to a corporate head from a Spore PLC last week. As long as no Singaporean companies takes lead by openly declaring that they are going in a big way, the rest of the other nationalities will wait.Reason being if your neighbour is not comfortable and Singapore been known to be prudent, other countries will not take the lead.
If HK do not lead in investing in Shenzen then, do you think the Americans, Japanese, Malaysians will be the first to go in?
My personal view is that , forget about all this corridor 'mimpi', just build 3 more bridges to connect to Spore and makes anywhere in Spore just 10 minutes away from JB, the whole state will boom. Just look at how many bridges are there in Bangkok , linking the city and Thonburi on the other side. Just look at how Macau prosper, with 3 bridges now linking Macau and Taipa where big casinos are.
Once connectivity is there, people who work in Spore can send their children to private schools in JB, utilise the medical centres there and even have dinner there every nites.
Tourists to Spore and its 2 casinoes can actually spend the day visiting Spore and then the tour buses ferry them to JB to stay in local hotels.Imagine the spillover effect to the JB economy.
Same thing happened when Shenzen opened, we went on a tour to HK and we actually stay in Shenzen hotel, that way, the tours were affordable.
You think our Govt is that smart to think of all these,instead of scratching their heads for name changes and spending hundred of millions on high tech securities etc? Doubt it.

Anonymous said...


I gave you my vote in last GE so use it wisely.

You better dont talk so much but concentrate doing your new job well. Prepare yourself to be the next Finance Minister and be like the late Baba Tun Tan Siew Sin, careful, prudent and clean.

Dont bother with people who suffer from constant flatulance, they got alot of GAS to release before they leave the crime scene.

All the best mate!!!

WY said...

basic questions, but will the govt reply? Is our govt accountable? seems like no one care to give any answers to the public anyway.

Anonymous said...

As a Malaysian, I still have not felt the impact of RM33 bil inv in Iskandar whatever corridor. Also, I have never a single sen of Petronas's profits. Likewise all the people (except for a Terengganu staff who got RM200 wang ehsan) in my office has never seen a sinlge sen of Petronas's profits. I wonder where has all the profits gone to.

Anonymous said...

Please wake up!!!!!! Iskandar Malaysia? Cyberjaya? Putrajaya? Who own most of the land in these areas? Who are the main bebeficiaries? Umnoputras?

Anonymous said...

To be frank, I still don't grab the concept of this so-called 'Iskandar Malaysia' and yet it has changed name for so many times.

Maybe this is another PGCC where project launched, but contract no signed yet.

Is this the so-called government that you want?

Anonymous said...

Tried as I did, I could not come up with the so called RM33 billion with somesort of signed document. If you really looked at those investments announced you will realize that its Syed Mokhtar that has managed to bring in the bulk of the real investment near his port of Tanjung Pelepas. There is also the recent announced Accelor Steel Plant. The rest are just planned investment with at most signed document on land purchases amounting to not even 10% of the amount announced. If you add those of government planned investments like new Johor state gov center, then you get RM30plus billion.

Clearly more spin than real.

Anonymous said...

A Married Man believes in economic prosperity for all.

Anonymous said...

This is becos our PM has no backbone and his half-past six mind does not work properly.Gosh! how come you simply change the name as you like!Think before you do things,ok?

Anonymous said...

Hi YB,

I'm don't mind government having mega project, but mega project must benefit Malaysian not politician. Base on the past mega project, I don’t see as Malaysia, we really enjoy the benefits of this mega project. The people who benefits from this project are politician link companies and foreign worker. Small contract who get the sub-contractors only suffer from late payment and some only get partial payment.

From the previous Putrajaya and Cyberjaya project, I notice a lot illegal Indonesia worker working in the project site, once the project near to finish, contractor call police to capture and send this worker home without paying them any cent. So those who manage to escape, they given a lot of social and security problems to Malaysian.

Mega project which do not benefits Malaysia and only drain ours tax money further don’t manage properly and transparent, I definitely against it.

Strong DAP Supporter

Anonymous said...

Tony, this is unrelated, but can you please read the latest issue of Newsweek (Apr 21, 28th) - Lured Into Bondage. Malaysia's position alongside Burma and North Korea as a premier destination for forced labour (= modern day, legalised slavery) is absolutely unconscionable. It is a national crime that our country is not doing more to correct this serious travesty of justice. Someone else pays with blood and sweat for our cheap consumer goods and for all the discounts we enjoy at Tesco.
Thank you for maintaining such an engaging and informative blog.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see all the rest of DAP heroes in the DAP Malaysia website!

There is something seriously wrong with our country's financial & political policies. The Finance Ministry should be independent of the ruling government, but under the umbrella of Parliament/State Assembly.

Richard Cranium said...

Iskandar Development Region.

Then Iskandar Malaysia.

Next, North Singapore.

Anonymous said...


Carling has very good points here. Perhaps you should post it as a 'main post' for the benefit of all as some readers don't read comments.

Unknown said...

Carling made some good comments about opening connectivity between economic hotspots and hinterland, thus benefiting the hinterland. There are many examples of these like HK-Shenzen.

UNFORTUNATELY, I have to blow a big hole in this suggestion. NOT because its a bad idea but because of the reality of race politics in Malaysia.

Our BN(read UMNO) led government, especially UMNO Johor, has always been anti-Singapore. So much so that it has influenced to a large degree, all Malaysians to be anti-S'pore. Yes, Singaporeans can be arrogant and not very tactful, but I would say no less if its the Japanese, or Koreans, or Arabs living next door. Large projects in Johor where you expect S'poreans to be involved will not be supported by the local government there. Not only that, they (UMNO) absolutely hate the idea of seeing S'poreans throwing around money. This has local racial connotations if you get my meaning. Once when our RM-Sing Dollar was equivalent, M'sians were spending in S'pore and our politicians blamed S'pore for 'stealing' M'sians money. Then when its the S'porean's turn to come over to JB to spend, our politicians blame S'pore for driving up JB prices and causing inflation. Now you get it? This issue will always carry racial connotations and nothing will succeed with S'pore until and unless we have a change of government at federal level and at state level in Johor.

Anonymous said...

Putrajaya halfway complete, and now Iskandar, half dead. Will it keep on going? 5 more years to come, Umno lands will be on sales. No joke, there is no buyer.

Anonymous said...


You have the points here. But to me, let the market forces do their balance in respect of disparity in currencies exchange.

I think the human traffic will be two ways kind of thing. Easy access will attract Singaporean to cross over Iskandar shopping and Malaysian to Singapore working.

So, Carling points still practical. Political climate in Malaysia also changed vastly. Carling points still workable.

Unknown said...

Hi True Malaysian,

Don't get me wrong. I fully agree with Carling's points. It makes excellent economic sense. Its just that I am a realist in that I also look for results or consequence of a particular action. I only wish to point out that any good thing we suggest, and even put into action, may not succeed if there are 'opposing forces' that scupper it. Until those forces are removed, an excellent idea reamins just that, an idea.

Anonymous said...

It is typical of Malaysian policy makers to change the rules of the game at the drop of a hat. This has been going on for the past half century and it looks like nothing has changed much.

Our Governent can never get anything right the first time around. Any endeavour has to go through rounds and rounds of agonising and wasteful readjusments. In the meantime all of us both locals and foreigners are left shaking our heads at the sheer stupidity of it all. Vsion 2020? Dream on lah!

Anonymous said...

I don't mind how many times they change the name and I also don't mind whether it is BN's or Pakatan Rakyat's. The main thing is how this stuff benefits the rakyat. I hope the new MPs especially from PR do their work fast. Yes, it is good to update their blogs and uncover what BN has done. For me, to recover the problem is more important. We need to see the change.Fast.