Johor’s ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, has expressed his wish to personally drive investments into the state as manufacturers worldwide prepare to step up production in a post COVID-19 era.
Sultan Ibrahim said with mass immunisation being carried out now across the world, the economy will be restored and that Johor must brace itself for the coming changes.
“It is important for Johor to pick up where it has been left behind as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The ruler said investments in the manufacturing sector in Johor had fallen from the end of 2020 because of the closure of international borders and had directly impacted severely the sector in the state.
He said it “pains me greatly” when he received reports and briefings of Johoreans losing jobs and how people who are earning daily wages are struggling with putting food on the table.
He said everyone has been affected by the pandemic but added that Johoreans must now get ready to face the post-COVID 19 period and to restore normalcy, including providing jobs for the people.
“Johoreans must understand that FDIs (foreign direct investments) are getting more competitive. We rely on foreign labourers, while some ASEAN countries are able to provide lower wages besides having their pool of workers.
“Johor cannot pick and choose, whine over the nationality of investors, ” he said in an interview in conjunction with the Chinese New Year.
“It does not matter where these investors are from. Whether they are from the United States, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Taiwan, Timbuktu or China. As long as they invest here professionally, they are welcome.”
He said Johor had traditionally encouraged investments in manufacturing but it would also encourage modern agriculture, food production and technology.
Investment into Iskandar Malaysia
The Star reported that despite the challenging business climate, Iskandar Malaysia is poised to attract about RM17 billion in foreign and local investments this year.
Since its inception 15 years ago, Iskandar Malaysia has recorded total cumulative investments of RM337.3 billion with over 60 percent realised.
The top foreign investors are China (RM54.6 billion), Singapore (RM24.3 billion), the United States (RM8.39 billion), and Japan (RM5.86 billion).
“Johor wants the investors to feel welcome, comfortable, secure and appreciated in doing business in Johor,” said Sultan Ibrahim.
He said for China and Singaporean investors, Johor is the most attractive choice because of its strategic position, the huge Chinese-speaking business links in the state as well as its proximity to Singapore.
Sultan Ibrahim said there are no states in Malaysia which can offer that kind of investment value.
He also said he understood that there have been concerns over the changes in policies, saying he wanted to give an assurance that there would be “no flip-flops.”
“I will personally ensure that this would not happen. It helps that the Prime Minister is also from Johor. Relationships between the federal and state governments are good.
“It is important to note that every stakeholder understands the importance of the state economy,” he said.
JB-Singapore RTS Link
Sultan Ibrahim further said that Johor can expect a further boost to its economy by the next five years with the completion of the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link.
Sultan Ibrahim said he had been informed that the RTS Link was expected to carry up to 300,000 passengers a day.
“It will dramatically put Johor as a strategic link to Singapore on another level. Travelling between Johor and Singapore will become much easier and faster. I am looking forward to the RTS,” he said.
He said the prices of properties would go up as RTS would make living and working in Johor more conducive for both sides.
“There is mutual benefit from RTS as the link will lessen the pressure on space in Singapore. It will further integrate the two communities.
“Johor hopes to offer itself as a technological and medical hub. There is enormous potential,” he added.
The 4km RTS Link – 2.7km of the route in Malaysia and 1.3km in Singapore – will link Johor’s Bukit Chagar terminus station to the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North. The journey time will be only five minutes and during peak hours, trains will commute at an interval of 3.6 minutes.