Mega projects will create 250,000 jobs: Johor Menteri Besar

Johor Baru's upcoming Forest City project, which is majority owned by China's Country Garden Holdings. When completed, it can house some 700,000 people. The opposition has attacked the Johor government for the many residential projects by Chinese com
Johor Baru's upcoming Forest City project, which is majority owned by China's Country Garden Holdings. When completed, it can house some 700,000 people. The opposition has attacked the Johor government for the many residential projects by Chinese companies that lure Chinese nationals to buy homes in Johor.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

PASIR GUDANG • The Johor government has a long-term plan for the state and wants to make it the new economic powerhouse in Malaysia, said Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

He said mega projects such as the Rapid Transit System (RTS) to Singapore, the Gemas-Johor Baru double-tracking rail system, the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail, and the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development project in Pengerang would put Johor above others once completed.

"More importantly, these mega projects - together with other developments taking place here - will generate 250,000 employment opportunities in the state," he said in a speech yesterday.

He also blasted critics for questioning the state government's efforts in attracting foreign investments. The opposition, including ex-premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had attacked the government for the many residential property projects by Chinese companies that lure Chinese nationals to buy homes in Johor.

"Without these investments, the state government cannot develop Johor's economy. We can see how vibrant the developments here are," he said.

Datuk Seri Khaled said that unlike the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), the opposition does not have any concrete plans for Johor.

The agreement for the RTS project was signed by Malaysia and Singapore last Tuesday at the eighth annual retreat between the leaders of both countries.

The RTS will connect Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru and the planned Woodlands North MRT station, which is part of the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line, in Singapore.

Alluding to the high cost of homes that is a chief complaint among Malaysians, he said the state government has been proactive in addressing the issue in urban areas by building affordable homes and other initiatives.

"We have built 27 per cent of affordable homes in Johor so far, with a price range of between RM40,000 (S$12,700) and RM150,000, which is the cheapest in Malaysia," he said.

Mr Khaled said it was the responsibility of the BN-led state government to ensure that the people are able to benefit from development.

"It is our aspiration to make Johor a developed state and (that) its rakyat (Malay for people) enjoy prosperous lives," he added.

On Saturday, Mr Khaled said the bilateral agreement signed by Malaysia and Singapore to finalise the implementation of the RTS project will play an important role in boosting cross-border economy.

He said Malaysians from other states who intend to seek employment in Singapore for higher wages would also benefit from the RTS, reported Bernama news agency.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2018, with the headline 'Mega projects will create 250,000 jobs: Johor Menteri Besar'. Print Edition | Subscribe