Saturday, November 04, 2006

Johor's Success hinged on Singaporeans' Investments

Malaysia in USD105b plan to transform cinderella city

Prime Minister Pak Lah unveiled a USD105 billion (RM382 billion) blueprint today to turn the area around its second-largest city into a prosperous Asian metropolis, and include the determination to overcome its reputation for street crime and broken dreams.

It's a plan for 20 years worth of projects to transform Johor Baru and its surrounds.

Pak Lah: "Our vision is to make south Johor the new international address for business, investment, leisure and culture."

Abdullah said investment of USD13 billion (RM60 billion) would be needed in the first five years from 2006-2010 to build roads, rail and other infrastructure required to set the stage for an influx of private investment, which is expected to come largely from Singapore.

Johor Baru is home to about 1 million people on the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula, on the doorstep of one of Asia's richest financial capitals, Singapore, but poor relations between the two countries have left the two cities estranged.

"I think a lot lies on how the Malaysian government tackles the Singapore factor," said Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim, managing director of UEM Land, which owns the single largest slice of property in the south Johor development zone (25,000 acres).

"Somehow along the way, they will just have to learn to work together for mutual benefit," he told reporters in a briefing held on the eve of the premier's announcement.

"I think, for once, we have got all these things addressed," he said, referring to the government's new master plan.

But a local ruling-party MP said it was time to suppress this instinct and welcome more Singaporean investment.

"The best way for us to get early results is to look at what we can do to complement Singapore," said Nur Jazlan Mohamed, who is an UMNO MP.

Economic-Political Conundrum

Now, UMNO acknowledged openly that in order for Pak Lah's dream to succeed, Malaysia needs Singaporean investment and the fact that UMNO is prepared to look for ways to complement Singapore - in the words of Nur Jazlan: "...look at what we can do to complement Singapore."

Have UMNO forgotten the "Pantai Hospital Episode"? Didn't Khairy complain the fact that Mokhzani (Mahathir's son) sold his stakes to the Chinese, who later sold it to Parkway Holding of Singapore?

The hypothethical poser is: If Singaporean businessmen and govt are willing to invest in Johor, wouldn't that reduce the Malay Equity? Would there be a shout of discrimination and inequality, uneven playing fields, and marginalization? Would another "Pantai Hospital Episode" be repeated some time in the future, after Singapore had made their investments? Further, Singaporean businessmen are not going to give up 30% equity shares unless it's by way of consideration or payment in kind. I believe Singaporean businessmen would have to consider the political risk associated with the Malaysian govt's policy within the context of NEP and Malay Agenda.

In the last few years, we can observed the dwindling investments by Singaporean in the state of Johor. Even if you observed the property development market, the houses are not selling. Pelangi Bhd who used to sell about RM300 million worth of houses in the last few years, are currently struggling to achieve revenue of 50% of what they had consistently achieved over the last 10 years. Even Kouk Brothers and their new development outfit Berinda isn't doing any better. Development projects for SP Setia Bhd and Tai Mah Holding are in their sunset period. Singaporeans just aren't buying and investing. Why? Political risk!

Sometimes, it's so unpredictable... one day, we hear, Singapore thy sworn enemy, now we hear, Singapore to be our strategic partner, that we (UMNO) are looking into ways to complement them, and we (UMNO) have to work together for mutual benefits. Next thing, after pouring in your money and invested, the cry may be:


Anonymous said...

I have yet to figure out how this thing is going to work. It looks like another Putrajaya project but with less potential.

The only interesting possibility is this 'passport free zone' - what does it mean anyone knows? Only if the government allow unresticted residency for foreigners or at least Singaporean could this work..

Anonymous said...

I believe tis eco zon eis created to benefit the UMNO puteras only and not the non-pro UMNO sudahtua's

mmudahlupa said...

Today, Johor Sultan is calling for the demolition of the Johor Causeway.It's seems that the monarchy is beginnng to get `involve ' in the admin. of the country. How's AAB going to react after coming back form Pakistan. He was persent. Don't say "i'm was not informed." Ask the Sultan to submit report! Ha...HA..

A Voice said...

Kami org Johor tuntut UMNO Johor yang sedang mengadakan Konvensyen pada hari Ahad dan Isnin ini supaya menyokong tuntutan DYMM Tuanku Sultan Johor untuk merobohkan Tambak Johor yang merupakan legasi penipuan penjajah terhadap negeri Johor.

Kami juga tidak setuju dengan rancangan K(haz)ianat untuk SJER mengadakan Free Access Zone, pihak berkuasa otonomi SJER, memberi keutamaan kepada pelabohan & lapangan terbang singapura, dan menjadikan JB bandar satelit & tempat berhibur untuk Singapura.

Daulat Tuanku!
Daulat Tuanku!
Daulat Tuanku!

bayi said...

In a project of this magnitude, we should map out what kind of a role Singapore can play as the closest neighbour and a neighbour with the financial and technological clout. If we allow emotion to get in our way, we will again be doomed to see mediocrity in its implementation. We should examine critically and strategically how Singapore can play a meaningful role symbiotically rather than let eomtion rule the day.

Having said that, let me qualify that I have no love for Singapore and Harry Lee but facts are facts and if we allow some of the politicians to bring emotion into such an ambitious project, we will live to regret this.

With our level of strength in our police and the poor salaries they earn, coupled with the lax implementation of laws, I wonder how crime can be brought to a manageable level. I believe Johor Baru has a very high level of crime rate at the moment and a sharp reduction will certainly boost our confidence in the potential of the law to deal with it.

Robin Goodfellow said...

Maverick. Sorry to deviate from the your blog topic.

"Do not make personal attacks or mock any particular individual. This is the advice of Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to members.

"Other than that,the delegates are allowed to bring up issues or matters close to their hearts at the discretion of their respective divisions.""

Excerpt lifted from The Star 5 November 2006.

Based on DPM's past words and deeds, I would not be surprised if a certain ethnic group or a defunct political ideology is cast as the cause of all of UMNO's self-inflicted woes this coming November. Which, incidentally reminds of a Story.....

Once a Tiger cub strayed away and ventured into a herd of Elephants. Unfortunately, the cub being small and all, was trampled in a stampede. Soon after a Jackal found the body of cub and immediately informed the parents.

"I have terrible news. Your son is lying dead in the field." the Jackal said.

"How did it happen? Who did this? I will never rest until I have my revenge!" roared the father Tiger.

"The Elephants did it." answered the Jackal. Quite startled by the Jackal's reply, the Tiger paced back and forth for a few minutes, growling and shaking his head.

"No! you are wrong," the Tiger said at last. "It was the Goats who murdered my Boy!"

And, at once the Tiger bounded down the hill and sprang upon a herd of Goats gazing in the valley below, and in a violent rage killed as many as he could in revenge.

(Freely adapted from a retelling by William J. Bennett)

Maverick SM said...

Robin, I love the story of the Tiger and Goat. Thanks and tell me more. I will learn.

Robin G said...

All these uncertain sentiment play right into my plan. When there is fear, we go invest. When everyone is buying, I will be scare.

Anonymous said...

I came across the article above, and I must claim that some of the statements are pretty parochial.

Pls look at what Shenzhen (China) is doing for HongKong, what Dubai is doing for Arab countries. Pls study how the people could enjoy the prosperity because of farsight and open minds. The IDR with Singaporean might not necessarily deprive us of our legacy. If we are concerned, are we implying that we are less competitive than Singaporeans ?

The key points here are to train up all our citizens, make everyone competitive in the global economy by learning the basics. Despatching two astraunauts in Russia spaceship would not help much, especially when our universities are still behaving like a 3rd world country academy. We do not want ”Jaguh Kampung"..When we are strong, we should be able to protect our territory in this global economy. Then, we should have more Petronas, Maxis and other big names to be proud of, in IDR and many other places in Malaysia.

The withholding of equity only makes sense when there are fruits of business success. Else, one will just be building up "castles in the air".

Dear Malaysians, be more down to earth. The key here is "Education, Education, Education...". This is how Ireland, Finland and other countries (India, China and etc)focus on.

You should have no more fear when you are truly strong (as objectively perceived by all others in the global village).

I love this country. A lot, a lot.