Malaysia GE15: Ismail Sabri promises projects worth RM6 billion in Johor if BN gets elected
Among the projects that might receive funding is a widening of the North-South Expressway between Yong Peng and Johor Bahru, as well as a rapid bus system in the Iskandar region.
AYER HITAM, Johor: Malaysian caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has pledged to roll out around RM6 billion (US$1.28 billion) worth of development projects in Johor if the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition gets elected into government after the Nov 19 polls.
Speaking during a BN campaign event in Ayer Hitam on Wednesday (Nov 9), Mr Ismail Sabri said: "All in all, for the 2023 Budget, there is almost RM6 billion set aside for developments in the state of Johor.
"But the implementation (of these projects) can only be done if BN returns to government. We tabled this in the 2023 budget, but for it to come to fruition, we have to table again (after we are elected)."
He outlined that these projects included widening the North-South Expressway between Yong Peng and Johor Bahru from four lanes to six lanes which will cost around RM510 million for preliminary work. The upgrading will be done in phases, he added.
Mr Ismail Sabri said that RM1 billion would also be set aside to develop the Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit system in Johor Bahru and more than RM3 billion set aside for the JB-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link project.
He added that a portion of the budget will also be allocated to clean Sungai Kim Kim, which has suffered from pollution, as well as to develop the Pasir Gudang Highway.
"This does not include the upgrading of several federal highways in the state. We will set aside RM1 billion, for the whole of Malaysia for this," he added.
On BN's chances in the polls, Mr Ismail Sabri was bullish that the coalition will win enough seats to form the new government. He was also optimistic that BN would prevail in the federal seat of Ayer Hitam.
Incumbent BN candidate Wee Ka Siong will be defending Ayer Hitam for his fifth term. In 2018, the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) president only won with a narrow margin of around 303 votes over his opponent Liew Chin Tong from the Democratic Action Party (DAP).
For the 15th General Election (GE15), DAP has picked Malay candidate Sheikh Umar Bagharib Ali, a former state assemblyman for Paloh. Mr Sheikh Umar lost his seat in the Johor state elections earlier this year to an MCA candidate.
Commenting on the fierce contest in Ayer Hitam, Mr Ismail Sabri claimed that Pakatan Harapan (PH) was using racial issues to garner support in the constituency.
"I've been informed by colleagues that the issue in this area, is that the PH candidate is Malay. I want to tell you, when PH was in government, the prime minister was Malay. But the government was controlled by DAP," said Mr Ismail Sabri.
"A vote for the PH candidate here is a vote for DAP," he added.
DAP is a Chinese-dominated party in the PH coalition.
Mr Ismail Sabri also highlighted that even though Dr Wee is Chinese, he was able to work with BN partners and remained loyal to the coalition even after the coalition lost in GE14.
"Our strength is we have strong ties between different races within BN. When we lost in GE14 and failed to form a government, MCA remained loyal to UMNO," said Mr Ismail Sabri.
"Today we must prove our loyalty to our friends. We must repay MCA's faith and stand behind Wee Ka Siong in Ayer Hitam.”
There are 26 federal seats in Johor state out of the 222-seat Lower House.