JOHOR BARU • In a bid to compete with Singapore, Malaysia's southern state of Johor will have three major entertainment parks worth almost RM8 billion (S$2.7 billion) in the near future.
"We want to be the new economic power house in the region and make Johor a competitor to all, including our close neighbour, Singapore," said Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin when launching ruling coalition Barisan Nasional's (BN) election manifesto for the state yesterday.
He said the state was known as the Southern Tiger and it is now time for the tiger to show its teeth and stripes. "We do not want to be a backyard to Singapore, we must catch up with the lion," said Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled, who is also Johor's BN chairman.
Johor is the birthplace of Umno, the Malay-dominant party that leads BN. It is expected to see pitched battles in the general election on May 9, after opposition pact Pakatan Harapan flagged it as the "frontline state" from which it plans to win federal power.
Mr Mohamed Khaled said BN's pledges for the state, dubbed Johor Hi-5, are guided by three targets - to meet the needs and enhance the well-being of the people as a whole; positioning Johor as a new southern economic power with its own unique, significant and meaningful contribution to Malaysia; and preparing and propelling Johor as a competitor to all, especially Singapore.
"For us to catch the lion, we must upgrade our tourism sector with new attractions because if Singapore has Gardens by the Bay, we will build a new tourism centre at the Desaru coast worth RM4.5 billion," the chief minister added.
He said the state would also spend RM400 million to build Sci-Fi Universe in Nusajaya. "In Singapore, they have Universal Studios but here, we will build the world's first science-fiction theme park near Legoland," he said.
Mr Mohamed Khaled added that BN is also committed to building a RM2.7 billion eco-entertainment park near the Yayasan Pelajaran Johor campus in Kota Tinggi, which would create thousands of jobs. "Once the projects are completed, I would not be surprised to see Singaporeans coming to world-class facilities available here," he said.
After listing the ruling administration's plans for the state, which included RM600 million yearly to maintain roads and more interest-free study loans, Mr Mohamed Khaled invited "Team Johor" to work together for the state to succeed.
MENTERI BESAR MOHAMED KHALED NORDIN ON...
CATCHING UP WITH THE LION
We do not want to be a backyard to Singapore, we must catch up with the lion.
BUILDING ON SCI-FI THEME
In Singapore, they have Universal Studios but here, we will build the world's first science-fiction theme park near Legoland.
"We no longer want to wrestle with those who are always changing their looks and logos, those fighting for seats and those who make the general election a field to topple others. In fact, this time we are able to see that the rocket is no longer flying, the blooming flower has withered and what's left is the split moon," he said, referring to the logos of parties in the federal opposition, namely the Democratic Action Party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Parti islam SeMalaysia.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, BERNAMA