Is Iskandar Malaysia on the right track?

KUALA LUMPUR: With the aim of transforming the region onto a metropolis of international standing, the government on 2006 under the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi asked Khazanah Nasional Bhd to spearhead the development of a large corridor in southern Johor.

The region aims to emulate Shenzhen’s economic transformation in China, capitalizing on the strengths that Malaysia knows all too-well: ample land, low start-up and operating costs, as well as strategic location within the East-West trade route.

This region is called Iskandar Malaysia which is about to reach maturity by 2025, by which some RM383 billion would have been committed by investors and the government. The region is estimated to have a population of 3 million, and a gross domestic product per capita of US$31,100 by then.

With only six years to go before Iskandar Malaysia is deemed as to have reached maturity, how has the region fared?

Discussions on Iskandar Malaysia has focused on the largest property market overhangs in the country, with some RM14.4 billion of properties left unsold in Johor. While some catalytic investments in the region which were targeted to spur high value industries are struggling. Overgrown grass dominates the landscape of the BioXcell biotechnology park, within the Southern Industrial and Logistics Cluster (SiLC), while  Pinewood Studios has decided to call it a day at Iskandar Malaysia Studios.

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