Iskandar Development Region, previously known as South Johor Development Region, is a joint effort by the Johor State of Malaysia and the Federal Government of Johor to boost the Johor State’s overall development. The Iskandar Development Region upon completion is expected to be on par with Shenzhen or Hong Kong of China.
It covers an area of 221,634 ha which is about 3 times the size of Singapore. It includes District of Johor Bahru, Mukim Jeram Batu, Mukim Sungai Karang, Mukim Serkat, Pulau Kukup and Mukim Ayer Masin.
It stretches from Johor Bahru to Senai/Kulai at the north, Port of Tanjung Pelepas at the west and Pasir Gudang at the east. It is divided into 5 zones i.e. (i) Johor Bahru city (ii) Nusajaya (iii) Western Development Corridor including Tanjung Pelepas and Gelang Patah (iv) Eastern Development Corridor including Johor Port, Pasir Gudang and Tanjung Langsat and (v) Senai-Kulai.
The Comprehensive Development Plan for Iskandar Development Region was drawn by the Khazanah Nasional Bhd. It aims to transform the southern part of the state of Johor including some backwater areas into an international metropolis. This region is set to become an important industrial, logistical and commercial centre with industrial facilities dealing with electronic, petrochemical, refinery and shipbuilding.
Based on the statistics, in 2005 the Iskandar Development Region has a population of 1.4 million. It is projected to have a population of 3 million by the Year 2025. Gross Domestic Product for Year 2005 is RM20 billion. This figure will be pushed up to RM93.3 billion by Year 2025.
Iskandar Development Region stretches along the Strait of Johor covering coastal land, swamp lands and rivers. Most of these areas can be developed into tourist spots.
The existing tourist spots in the Iskandar Development Region are historical sites within Johor Bahru city, Danga Bay, Kukup and Kukup Island, Tanjung Piai, ZON Ferry Terminal, Tanjung Langsat etc. Kukup Island is a RAMSAR site and it has the world largest uninhabited mangrove. Various species of flora and fauna flourish on this island. Nature lovers will come to this region and appreciate the uniqueness of this place.
Tanjung Piai is another mangrove near to Kukup and is the southernmost tip of Asia continent. Long-tailed masque with white eyebrow can be found on tree tops here.
Visitors depart and arrive at ZON Ferry Terminal by sea from Batam, Bintan and Tanjung Belungkor, Johor. The ZON Ferry Terminal has been assimilated into other components to make it a one stop tourist centre complete with a hotel, a shopping centre, a huge karaoke centre etc. It is a duty free zone where goods bought here are exempt from taxes.
Danga Bay is being developed by Ecovest Bhd. It is a mixed development comprising of shops, condominiums, theme parks, marina etc. It has a female market which follows the concept of female market in Hong Kong.
There is an international airport, Senai International Airport at Senai. Senai is an industrial area with various factories set up by international investors. Senai will be developed into an international cargo hub under the Iskandar Development Region. The Senai International Airport besides serving the cargo, it will serve as the entry point for visitors from all over the world.
With the influx of investment from all over the world into Iskandar Development Region, tourism industry will not be forgotten by the Johor State government. Currently, there are middle-east investors proposing to develop theme parks at Nusajaya. A company under Berjaya Group, Central Malaysian Properties Sdn Bhd has acquired the Waterfront Floatiing City and has changed its name to Lido Boulevard. It will be a mixed residential and commercial development. The special feature of this development is that most of the structures will be constructed above the sea and supported by piles. This developemnt has stirred controversy among the locals as it occupies the seafront, in a way blocking and spoiling the sea view whereas there are plenty of inner lands that can be used for development.
Malaysia now is facing an upward surge of fuel price, construction material price and commodity price. Inevitably, the pace of developement of Iskandar Development Region is now being hampered. Barring unforeseen circumstances in the future, as long as the national leaders sticks to their commitments, Iskandar Development Region will be one of the successful mega projects in Malaysia.
Article written by: Chai Yong