BY DATUK ISMAIL IBRAHIM
CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ISKANDAR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (IRDA)
I still remember, as if it was only yesterday, the day that South Johor Economic Region was launched in November 2006 as the Iskandar Development Region. Fast forward to today, and we are now best known as Iskandar Malaysia and celebrating our sixth year of development in November.
The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), with the collaboration of government agencies and private industry players, has consistently and aggressively pushed forwards to ensure key milestones for Iskandar Malaysia's first five years are met and, in 2011, confirmed that the project was on schedule. We welcomed the opening of iconic projects including Johor Premium Outlets, Newcastle Medical University, and, more significantly, the Rumah Iskandar Malaysia.
During the last quarter of 2011, IRDA also conducted research to measure awareness of the brand Iskandar Malaysia, and the result showed 58% awareness, a rise from the 43% recorded in 2009. This improvement shows our efforts to reach out to target communities, engage with them, and communicate information on the Iskandar Malaysia economic region has been successful.
The development has progressed far within the last five years, but, undoubtedly, much more needs to be done if we are to achieve the 2025 target of having a population of 3 million people, 1.46 million jobs, cumulative investments of RM383 billion over 20 years, and a GDP of USD 93.3 billion.
To ensure further growth and progress, efforts must be intensified, and we must strive to make Iskandar Malaysia a strong and sustainable metropolis of international standing within the next fifteen years, as envisioned by the Comprehensive Development Plan.
The approaches that are adopted must be aimed at attracting more talent and investment into the region. If achieved, this would generate a concentration of businesses and people, creating a network that facilitates the free flow of ideas, innovation, and creativity needed to drive the region's economy. The development of liveable communities that attract people to "live, work, and play" is an important factor and one that will influence further investments into Iskandar Malaysia. With the rise of urban conurbations throughout the world, this competition for funds and talent is a competition between large, metropolitan areas, anchored by a city where economic activities are focused.
This year is a significant one for all of us at Iskandar Malaysia because it is one for realising our vision in motion. The most anticipated launch this year will be Legoland Malaysia in September, followed by the Puteri Harbour Family Entertainment Park in November.
But beyond creating a family destination and attractive value propositions, we believe in making Iskandar Malaysia a model as a "Malaysia Smart City" development. We need to continue to innovate and pioneer a new, liveable territory that promotes investments and attracts investors.
IRDA was founded on the idea that the Iskandar Malaysia development should benefit the people who live there. We will continue to seek opportunities to make contributions that will support economic growth and advance business discoveries.
Iskandar Malaysia's success is further fuelled by the Government Transformation Program (GTP) and the Economic Transformation Program (ETP), made up of 27 Entry Point Projects (EPPs) and 32 Quality Living Projects in security, public transport, and infrastructure.
These projects have a strong potential; RM139.3billion cumulative foreign and domestic investment and 68,000 jobs are envisaged over the next eight years.
We are thankful that Iskandar Malaysia's development plan is in line with the government's ETP, where areas such as safety and security, public transport, and infrastructure are a high priority. Together with the government's support, Iskandar Malaysia will continue to soar to greater heights, ultimately delivering a better and more conducive environment for businesses to grow and for communities to live and prosper.
We thank all our partners, Federal and State agencies, vendors, staff, and the people of Iskandar Malaysia for their continuous belief and trust. We bid you Selamat Hari Raya and Selamat Hari Merdeka!