KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali has proposed a new economic corridor stretching from Kuala Lumpur to Johor, which also will involve the sleepy fishing village of Tanjung Piai.
The opposition, however, has poured cold water on the proposal, noting that Tanjung Piai – currently the focus of a hard-fought by-election campaign – is already part of the Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor.
Speaking to voters on the campaign trail on Sunday (Nov 10), Mr Azmin said the proposal, which is expected to be implemented next year, will encourage development while giving an economic boost to small districts in Johor.
He said he was briefed on the proposal on Saturday and would present it to the Economic Action Council (EAC) and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
“We will create a new nucleus of development to develop the small towns, up until Johor.
“We do not want the development to be concentrated only in the Klang Valley or in the cities but these small districts need the government’s attention to be developed too as it can benefit the people,” he said.
The minister added that currently, development could be seen in coastal areas such as Muar and Batu Pahat, and he wanted to see similar development in rural areas.
“The number of towns to be developed is still being discussed and I think Tanjung Piai will not be excluded,” he said.
Mr Azmin was in Tanjung Piai to support Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate Karmaine Sardini. Mr Karmaine is up against Barisan Nasional’s Wee Jeck Seng, Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam and Berjasa’s Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz.
Two independent candidates, Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar are also contesting.
The Tanjung Piai by-election was called following the death of its PH member of parliament Dr Md Farid Md Rafik on Sep 21 due to a heart attack. The polls will be held on Saturday.
Meanwhile, United Malays National Organisation’s Johor state chief Shahrir Abdul Samad has claimed that Mr Azmin’s proposal shows a lack of understanding of Iskandar Malaysia. He also questioned whether the proposal was politically motivated, according to a report by the Star.
He stressed that both Tanjung Piai and Pontian were included under the Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor.
"As a minister, using outside advisers or even special officers and turning his back on civil servants, will be a waste as they are making a policy that already existed during Barisan Nasional time," Mr Shahrir said, without elaborating.
The Iskandar economic corridor – covering an area of more than 4,700 sq km – encompasses the districts of Johor Bahru, Kulai, Pontian, Kota Tinggi and Kluang.