PONTIAN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As next weekend's by-election in Johor's Tanjung Piai draws closer, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali on Sunday (Nov 10) said the government has plans to create another new economic corridor in the state.
Datuk Seri Azmin said the proposed new economic corridor will be deliberated by his ministry and tabled to the Economic Action Council (EAC), which is chaired by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
The deliberation by the council was necessary, as the plan is one that concerns the long term, and " isn't merely five or 10 years long", he said.
Mr Azmin said his ministry was briefed about the planned economic corridor for the southern state on Saturday, and development could be executed as early as next year.
"I believe that with the Prime Minister's commitment and the present leadership, the new economic corridor could be implemented beginning next year," he told reporters when met after a rally held for the by-election on Sunday.
Johor is already home to Iskandar Malaysia, the economic development corridor which is dotted with luxury condominiums and five-star hotels.
According to Mr Azmin, a new development "nucleus" will be created to develop small towns from Bandar Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur all the way to Johor.
"As I mentioned earlier, we don't want development to be only focused on the Klang Valley or big cities.
"Small districts like Tanjung Piai must receive attention from the government for development," he said.
The polls in Tanjung Piai, in the state's Pontian district, on Nov 16 will be a six-cornered fight. Pakatan Harapan's Karmaine Sardini will be seeking to defend the seat against Barisan Nasional's Wee Jeck Seng, Gerakan's Wendy Subramaniam, Pan Malaysian Islamic Front (Berjasa)'s Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz, and two independent candidates - Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar and Ang Chuan Lock.
The by-election was triggered by the passing of the seat's incumbent, 42-year-old Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, from a heart attack on Sept 21.
In the 2018 general election, Dr Md Farid, a medical doctor from Pakatan's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, beat Barisan's Wee and Parti Islam SeMalaysia's Nordin Othman with a majority of 524 votes.
Dr Md Farid had also served as Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
Mr Azmin also said the government is currently in discussions to decide which small towns would be included in the new economic corridor.
"We want interior areas to be given attention and the amount of towns that will be developed is still under consideration, where Tanjung Piai is not excluded," he said.
"The specifics (of towns to be developed) is still subject to discussions at the Federal level," he added.
At the same time, Mr Azmin said the government had made continuous efforts to ensure that it has plans for development.
"It is not done just for the by-election. The late Datuk Dr Md Farid was a person who was committed to developing Tanjung Piai and other areas.
"As a former deputy minister, whenever he was in Kuala Lumpur, he would meet me to apply for development allocations. This shows that he is a committed person."