JOHOR BAHRU (April 14): Johor Barisan Nasional (BN) launched its manifesto, based on five thrusts including ensuring sustainable economic development, providing comprehensive infrastructure and talent development.
The ruling coalition will not let Johor become the ‘backwater’ to Singapore, said Johor BN chairman and menteri besar Datuk Seri Mohd Khaled Nordin at the launching event held at the Persada International Convention Centre in Johor Bahru today.
“Johor BN will not let Johor be the backwater to anyone, especially Singapore. We will not just sit here and watch Singapore develop itself, while not doing anything on our side. The southern tiger will chase the lion,” said Khaled, drawing loud applause from the attendees.
As the incumbent state government, Johor BN wants to position the state as a new economic power in the region, and become an economic and development competitor to any state or region, especially its southern neighbour.
The coalition offers a total of 230 pledges for the people in Johor over the next five years. Among the most notable pledges include developing each district based on its economic strengths and needs.
For example, Muar’s furniture manufacturing industry will be developed further with the development of Muar Furniture Park. The district will also be turned into an education hub for the country, mostly through the Pagoh University City which is home to about 7,000 students.
Segamat will be developed into the “Agriculture Hub of National Importance” or “The Holland of Malaysia”. The state government has planned to develop nucleus farms - named Agro Mix Farms - on a 46 acre site, which will be expanded to 100 acres over the next five years.
The state’s BN also pledged to increase the growth rate of the gross domestic product (GDP) to an average of 6% over the next five years , said Khaled. BN Johor is also committed to ensure the success of mega projects in the state, he added.
The mega projects that the coalition is promoting include the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID), the development of Pengerang Industrial Park with a RM1.1 billion investment, Ibrahim International Business District and Johor Bio Desaru Food Valley.
Other mega projects include :
1. Developing Jemaluang Dairy Valley to create job opportunities in dairy processing industry
2. Developing Nusajaya Tech Park with the aim of creating 20,000 job opportunities
3. Johor Halal Park
4. Sedenak Iskandar Data Centre Hub
5. Boosting Johor’s position as the National Logistics Hub
Continuing on the coalition’s target to “Chase the Lion”, a reference to Singapore, which is known as the Lion City, Khaled said that it will develop the state’s tourism attractions and infrastructure, in order to compete with Singapore in attracting tourists from across the region.
“If Singapore has Gardens by the Bay, we will develop Desaru Coast, a multibillion tourism development which will see many world-class hotels and resorts. Desaru Coast will also have the largest wave pool in Southeast Asia,” said Khaled.
Desaru Coast, which is currently being developed at a cost of RM4.5 billion, will be operational this coming June, the manifesto read. In addition to that and Legoland and Hello Kitty Town, other tourism attractions that will be developed in Johor include :
1. Sci-Fi Universe, a science fiction-based theme park with an investment of RM400 million
2. Johor Eco Entertainment Park to be developed in Bandar Akademi YPJ Kota Tinggi with an investment of RM2.7 billion
3. Pengerang Waterfront worth RM100 million
On the social side, Johor BN also pledges to reduce the burden of the high cost of living among the bottom 40 (B40) and middle 40 (M40) through several programmes, including by expanding “imCoop” across Johor by adding 50 more fair price shops by 2020.
The coalition also pledges to continue the Johor Affordable Housing Scheme, or Rumah Mampu Milik Johor (RMMJ) by building another 100,000 houses by 2023. Johor BN also wants to expand the rent-to-own scheme to those with a household income of below RM3,000.
On the pledge to build 100,000 RMMJ by 2023, which coincidentally is similar to what Pakatan Harapan offered in their manifesto for Johor, Khaled said that the opposition coalition copied the state government’s ideas.
“When they copied our ideas, this shows that we are on the right track,” said Khaled.
Through the mega projects and economic policies, the state BN targets to create about 250,000 new job opportunities, including 14,000 high skill jobs through Iskandar Shares Services and Outsourcing initiative, 5,000 jobs in the furniture industry and another 5,000 in the oil and gas industry.
This commitment to increase job opportunities in the state will be followed by efforts to reduce dependence on foreign labour, said Khaled. For starters, the state government is in the midst of developing a Labour Rationalisation Plan, he added.
On infrastructural development, some RM600 million will be allocated for the maintenance of rural roads. The North – South Expressway between Yong Peng and Johor Bahru will also be upgraded to six lanes, from the current four lanes.
RM350 million worth of investment will be channelled towards developing the state’s sports infrastructure, mostly for the construction of the Johor Bahru Sport City and Arena Larkin. Mini stadiums will also be built in each districts, said Khaled.
Ending his presentation, Khaled said that Johor BN is not competing against Pakatan Harapan when crafting the manifesto. Instead, the coalition has a bigger aim, which is to make Johor as competitive as Singapore in the international arena.
“We must work hard to make Johor as the best state in Malaysia, so that within five to 10 years, the story of our success will be echoed, not only throughout the nation, but also across the Tebrau Strait. Let everyone knows that this Southern Tiger can roar as loud as the Red Lion,” he said.