Iskandar’s many iconic current and future projects are expected to transform the region into a modern metropolis – being the biggest beneficiary of the spillover wealth effect from Singapore.

p22Just before going for print, it was announced that Forest City, Southeast Asia’s first and largest mixed-use green development incorporating a car-free zone co-existing with smart technologies and amenities was launched in Iskandar Malaysia. This marks a significant development in the Johor economic corridor north of Singapore as for months prior to this, confidence in the region was at its lowest ever since its inception in 2005. The launch was a much-needed boost to the flagging interest in the region in line with a dampened property market in the whole of Malaysia.

Data by the National Property Information Centre (NAPIC) which tracks property transactions in the country reveals that in Q4 2015, there were 142,567 homes under construction in the state of Johor, with another 193,271 units under planning, of which a majority are in Iskandar. So, when Forest City was announced, hopes were high that this iconic development would help fuel the economic development of Iskandar over a 20-year period.

Sprawled over 1,386.05ha (3,425 acres) on four man-made, reclaimed islands off the Iskandar coast, the joint venture between Country Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd and Johor’s Esplanade Danga 88 Sdn Bhd — a Johor state-owned associate of Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor — is planned to house up to 700,000 people. Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd is a Hong Kong-listed Mainland China property developer which is undertaking several large scale development projects in Malaysia.

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Many other flagship projects have been completed while some are still ongoing in the massive development (see map). Back in November 2015, Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib had announced that Iskandar has secured RM29.83 billion in new investments from January 2015 to November 2015.

p22bThe region has recorded RM187.96 billion in total cumulative committed investments from 2006 to November 2015, out of which, 50% or RM93.39 billion represents investments that have been realized. To date, local investors had contributed RM111.82 billion (59%) to the total cumulative committed investments while the balance RM76.14 billion (41%) were contributed by foreign investors.

Mega push

Property development is one of those sectors that have greatly spurred the growth of Iskandar Malaysia. The residential, retail and industrial segments have collectively contributed cumulative investments of RM96.13 billion as at 30 November 2015.

Much like Greater Kuala Lumpur, the improvement of Iskandar’s public transport infrastructure is instrumental in transforming it into an international city. Among these game changers are the introduction of Iskandar KTM system that will connect Nusajaya in Johor Bahru with Pasir Gudang via the JB Grand Sentral public transportation; the addition of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line 1, 2 and 3—as well as the effort to ease cross-border congestion via the proposed Rail Transit System (RTS) and Singapore-Malaysia High-speed Rail (HSR).

p22cIn time to come, this land area of 547,832 acres (48 times the size of Putrajaya) may well become what Shenzhen is to Hong Kong, as predicted by some market watchers. As it is, many parts of the region is very well-planned, almost a mirror image of parts of Singapore. With improved connectivity between Singapore and Malaysia, Iskandar is set to become the biggest beneficiary of the spillover wealth effect from Singapore.

p22dAs it is, many Singaporean small-and-medium sized industries have relocated or plan to relocate to Iskandar due to the spiralling high cost of doing business in Singapore. Workers would follow suit, resulting in entire production centres being relocated there while the headquarters or key offices remain in Singapore. This widely expected scenario is what would eventually transform this once neglected vast tract of land into a metropolis. “The fortunes of Iskandar is very much linked to Singapore,” observed a property consultant. Not many would disagree.


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