KL-Singapore high-speed rail to enhance growth of Iskandar

PETALING JAYA: The proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail link (HSR) will further boost the growth of Iskandar Malaysia in Johor and create more growth areas.

Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) senior vice-president of corporate business Nor Azam Taib told The Edge Financial Daily: “Since it was initiated six years ago, Iskandar Malaysia has received warm response for most new property launches from both local and foreign buyers.”

The completion of several catalytic projects in Iskandar sent strong signals to investors of the good growth prospects of the area. A recent investor is Kuok Brothers Sdn Bhd, which put in RM182 million.

The Johor property market is expected to remain bullish, driven by the growth of Iskandar in the years to come.

“Iskandar would not only enlarge the economic pie of Johor, but also enhance Malaysia’s strategic position as an investment destination in the Asean region,” said Nor Azam.

He added that there is growing international recognition of Iskandar as Malaysia’s future engine of growth as the KL-Singapore HSR will enhance connectivity between the two countries.

According to Kumar Tharmalingam, executive director of Sunway Bhd, with the travel time from KL to Singapore expected to be reduced to 90 minutes door-to-door via the HSR compared with the current four to five hours via road, more businesses are expected to explore opportunities in both countries.

“There will be a lot of businesses benefiting from the HSR, including financial services, real estate, and oil and gas companies located in Singapore.

There will also be more inter-migration of professionals between the two countries and more joint venture trading, manufacturing and services as talent flows from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and vice versa,” said Kumar.

He added that the economic benefits to Malaysia will be exponential as investments move from Singapore to Malaysia. “Economic connectivity will push up the quality of life in Kuala Lumpur and parts of Malaysia as well as bring real benefits to both countries. The HSR will ease the pressure on living space in Singapore.”

Knight Frank Malaysia managing director Sarkunan Subramaniam expects more growth areas to emerge along the HSR’s proposed stops. As three of the stops will be within Iskandar, the region is expected to remain the one growth area in Malaysia to have three sub centres.

“Although Johor, as Malaysia’s biggest attraction for foreign investors in the future could be a long-term possibility, Selangor will be tough to beat as its infrastructure development is decades ahead,” said Sarkunan.

From January to March this year, Iskandar recorded RM5.06 billion in new investments with a cumulative committed investment from 2006 to end-March 2013 of RM111.37 billion. Property development contributed RM40.02 billion, comprising residential, retail and industrial products.

Nor Azam, Sarkunan and Kumar will be sharing their views at a panel discussion on “The impact of the KL-Singapore high-speed rail” at The Edge Investment Forum on Real Estate on May 11. The forum is sponsored by MBSB and supported by Sunway.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on May 3 2013.

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