Iskandar Malaysia doubters now have reason to reassess their views as the latest numbers suggest that the special economic region is living up to its billing.
Established in 2006 as the prime economic and development corridor in the southern region of the country, Iskandar has recorded RM208 billion in committed investments over the past 10 years, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Speaking at the launch of the Iskandar Malaysia Greenland Smart City Experiential Centre (SMARTXP) at Helios Cove in Permas Jaya earlier this week, Najib said 51 per cent of the total investment, or RM106.43 billion, represents investments that have already been realised.
The Prime Minister also pointed out that local investors have contributed about RM124 billion to the development of Iskandar, making up the largest share, while another RM84.05 billion has been injected from foreign countries – amounting to roughly 40 per cent.
“This shows the confidence of our neighbours and other countries from around the world [in Iskandar],” Najib said.
He added that the large investments that the region has garnered is a positive reflection on the country’s strong economic fundamentals, especially since the government has strengthened the economy by removing long-held subsidies on petroleum and gas, implementing the goods and services tax (GST) and diversifying the economy.
Using the opportunity to address criticisms against GST, he said the new tax regime has become “Malaysia’s saviour” following the unforeseen drop in oil and gas prices.
Najib also pointed out that, between 2007 and 2015, the Iskandar development region has successfully created a total of 682,169 jobs in a number of sectors. This includes manufacturing, hospitality, food and beverage, and education.
Making reference to SMARTXP, the prime minister said that there is a need to further develop the smart city concept as 90 per cent of the Malaysian population will likely be living in urban cities by 2020. Citing recent research studies, he said of the nearly 32 million people in Malaysia, or 74.5 per cent, are currently staying in cities and urban areas.
“In other words, there are 21 people, either migrating to the cities or being born, every hour and this translates into 504 people a day and 183,960 people in a year. So, the demand for smart-city infrastructure will be tremendous and vital,” he said.
The SMARTXP showcase, which is open to the public, allows visitors to experience smart-city living with the latest available technologies, including virtual reality tours as well as interactive games. – Bernama