SINGAPORE: Two upcoming high-impact projects are expected to propel Johor to become the most economically developed state in Malaysia, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Thursday (April 18). He said that in the next one to two years, the state’s economic growth is expected to surpass that of other states.

Mr Anwar was referring to the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (JS-SEZ) and Special Financial Zone (SFZ) in Forest City.

“Both will ensure a more rapid growth. They are still being formulated but will help in accelerating economic growth,” he said.

His remarks were made at the kick-off to Aidilfitri Madani 2024 jointly hosted by Malaysia’s Defence Ministry and the state government at Angsana Johor Baru Mall, which was also attended by Johor’s Chief Minister Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghaz, as well as other members of the cabinet and other political leaders.

“The past year has been a good year for Johor. Not only is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Ibrahim, who is also the 17th Agong, from this state, but it is also led by young leaders. They have managed to develop Johor well and the state’s economic development is among the best in the country,” Malay Mail quotes Mr Anwar as saying.

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At the beginning of the year, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Singapore and Malaysia with an agreement to develop the economic zone together. Originally proposed by Malaysia’s Economy Minister Mohd Rafizi Ramli, the concept has been studied by a special task force established by both countries last July.

The zone is being patterned after the  Shenzhen Economic Zone in China, which has brought in millions of dollars.

The JS-SEZ is expected to further expand trade and business activities in Malaysia and Singapore as well as also position the region as an attractive hub within the region. A number of related initiatives are being studied by Singapore and Malaysia, including a passport-free clearance system.

In his speech at the event, Mr Anwar underlined how important it is that Johor’s economic success uplift the lives of the economically disadvantaged in the state.

At an earlier meeting with Johor’s Chief Minister, Mr Anwar was told that there are “fewer than 2,000 people in the hardcore poor category” in Johor.

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“I am sure we will be able to solve this in a short amount of time and put a full stop to the hardcore poor category,” he said.

He also touched on the flooding problems the state has experienced.

“We cannot see economic development while also having major floods. I hope those involved in government projects can make sure that everything runs swiftly to ease the people’s burden.” /TISG

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