Iskandar Development Region renamed Iskandar Malaysia

A public housing scheme for low-income earners will be built in the Iskandar Development Region, which has been renamed Iskandar Malaysia. The scheme comprises 2,000 affordable and spacious apartment units in five self-contained neighbourhoods across Iskandar, which is three times the size of Singapore.

The units will also house those displaced by infrastructure projects currently being built in the region, such as the Eastern Dispersal Link Highway, and villagers living along Iskandar Malaysia’s three rivers. The RM200 million scheme was announced today by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after chairing a board meeting of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) here.

The scheme will be modelled after the high density flat schemes in Singapore and not the low-cost flats currently in use in the country.

Abdullah said units in the scheme would have a minimum of 850 to 900 sq ft of built up space compared to the 650 sq ft units found in low-cost flats.

Each cluster neighbourhood will have amenities such as a kindergarten, places of worship and recreation areas.

“We want the public housing units in Iskandar to be of better quality, bigger and more comfortable than the norm. This is in line with the principles behind Iskandar,” Abdullah told reporters here.

Contracts to build the schemes would be awarded through open tenders so that contractors with no connections to government-linked companies can be involved, he said.

“We will also find ways for bumiputera companies to get a share of the projects and be given a chance to play a role,” he said.

The project is expected to mute claims that Iskandar Malaysia will be an exclusive playground for the rich while low and middle income earners would be sidelined as most houses in the area so far are luxury homes. These claims became a hot-button issue in the recent general election especially among villagers in Gelang Patah, which borders Nusajaya and is tipped to be the central administrative centre of Iskandar Malaysia and the Johor government. It is learnt that once complete, the scheme will be managed and maintained by IRDA either directly or through a reputable professional company.

Abdullah said there would be no let up in the federal government’s commitment to Iskandar Malaysia, adding that the region had attracted RM33 billion in investments thus far, or 70 per cent of the RM47 billion targeted between 2006 and 2010.

Another three investments that Iskandar Malaysia is expected to receive this year are for an oil and gas and bio-diesel industrial estate in Tanjung Langsat, Pasir Gudang (RM1 billion), a maritime centre (RM2 billion) and the Asian Petroleum Hub (RM1.4 billion) both of which are in Tanjung Bin, Pontian.

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