Tong still committed to Iskandar, after quitting UEM

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Tong Kooi Ong continues to believe in the prospects of Iskandar Malaysia and hopes to continue playing a part in forging closer ties between Malaysia and Singapore despite his decision to resign from the board of UEM Land Holdings Bhd come Jan 1, 2013.

In a statement yesterday, Tong said he would remain as a director of M+S Pte Ltd -- a vehicle 60:40 owned by Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Singapore’s state-owned Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd -- which has been tasked to develop what’s broadly known as the KTM railway land tract in Singapore that is worth S$11 billion (RM27.4 billion) in gross development value (GDV).

“Its significance is beyond monetary valuations as it also symbolises the strong relationship between the governments of Malaysia and Singapore. This involvement has taken a substantial part of my time and I expect it to be even more demanding in the months ahead,” Tong said of the M+S venture, whose formation in June 2011 was hailed as a breakthrough in Malaysia-Singapore relations.

On his tenure with UEM Land -- which he took on from February 2011 after the company’s acquisition of Sunrise Bhd -- Tong, who was chairman of Sunrise, said: “I believe I have contributed much and have learnt even more. Over the past two years, I had the opportunity to learn and work on Iskandar Malaysia in general and Nusajaya in particular.”

Gerbang Nusajaya is an integrated 4,500-acre development with a GDV of RM40 billion that is expected to create 76,000 new jobs.

“Dreams are turning into reality. The planned industrial development by Ascendas has put ink to paper. Other planned projects are also accelerating at a good pace … The success of areas like Puteri Harbour is beyond my expectations, in terms of demand, prices and activities. I believe this success will generate its own momentum,” Tong said, expressing confidence in the current state of both UEM Land and the Iskandar development.

Besides his role as a Khazanah-appointee to M+S, Tong said he looked forward to working closely with both Khazanah and UEM Land to build on the growing success of Iskandar Malaysia.

“I’ve developed good relationships with international investors and entrepreneurs, many of whom I believe are now interested in Iskandar. I hope to bring such investments and participate in the development and future success of Iskandar,” he said.

Tong is chairman of The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd, which publishes The Edge Malaysia weekly, The Edge Financial Daily and Personal Money magazine. In Singapore, he is chairman of The Edge Publishing Pte Ltd, which publishes The Edge Singapore.

He is also executive chairman and CEO of SGX-listed UPP Holdings Ltd, which in October signed a memorandum of understanding with Myanmar’s ministry of electric power on the setting-up of a new gas-generating power plant project in Yangon.

Tong held a 26.91% stake in UPP as at Oct 17, while Singapore billionaire “remisier king” Peter Lim Eng Hock had a 23.25% stake.

This story first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily on Nov 8, 2012.

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