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Lego theme park for Johor

The Straits Times/The Malaysian Insider

JOHOR BARU, Nov 21 – Lego, the Danish manufacturer of toy building blocks, is close to concluding a deal to build a theme park in Johor.

State authorities familiar with the project said a breakthrough in negotiations were proceeding well and preliminary works on “Legoland Malaysia” could start as early as June next year.

The project, to be sited on some 400 acres of land off Danga Bay, is expected to entail an initial investment of under RM1 billion.

Lego now operates theme parks in Denmark, Britain, the United States, Germany and Dubai. The theme parks, built entirely from building blocks, are targeted at young families and include the whole gamut of exciting roller coaster rides and a variety of other attractions.

Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB), the investment arm of Iskandar Malaysia, is expected to be the local partner in the project. Speaking in Dubai last month, IIB managing director Arlida Ariff said that as many as three theme parks were being considered in Iskandar Malaysia.

It is learnt besides Lego, IIB is also pursing talks with Universal Studios and Disney Tokyo.

The plan is to have a core theme park covering 600 to 800 acres, and a few smaller theme parks of 50 to 100 acres each. Some 3,000 acres have been set aside for theme parks, including supporting commercial developments, in Iskandar Malaysia.

Discussions are for park operators to take up a stake in the theme parks so that they can have a long-term interest in these ventures.

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Take a sneak preview of LegoLand Theme Parks at WWW.LEGOLAND.COM.

Badawi’s legacy in Medini Iskandar

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has unofficially resigned so to speak, but will only officially do so in March next year after his party polls.

The question is how well will his tenure be remembered?

Or has he left any good legacy for the country and people, at least so far? I wouldn’t want to mention deeply about this issue but all I can remember from his few years of popular-then-very-unpopular premiership was nothing more than his so-called “Economic Corridors”.

This week at a global real estate event in Dubai, Iskandar Malaysia – one of Mr Badawi’s brainchild corridor project has revealed an ambitious multi-billion dollar development in the Iskandar region of Johor, the southern state neighbouring Singapore.

Medini - Iskandars Financial District

Medini - Iskandar's Financial District

It is called Medini Iskandar (City) or simply known as Iskandar Financial District, which is to be developed by a consortium of investors mainly from the Middle East. (It was also announced that the Iskandar region would have at least three world-class theme parks.)

The unveiling of this urban-centric project came after the privately-funded Penang Global City Centre project in the northern economic region of Penang, another brainchild of the Prime Minister, was scrapped by the recently-elected Opposition government of Penang.

Medini Iskandar

Medini Iskandar

I’m here trying to be a little pessismistic on the prospect of Iskandar Malaysia, not really because it was a brainchild of an unpopular Prime Minister but more of the fact that our political uncertainty since March 2008 is taking its toll (or has had) by driving out the “forces” to other emerging economies, perhaps China and India.

The fact is Malaysia last year already had an “investment deficit” or negative flow of investments due to fund outflows exceeding the inflow of funds (such as FDI and tourism receipts?) into our country, according to the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2008. What more can you say for this year.   

And then we have a record-breaking inflation rate then doesn’t seem to drop at all when crude oil prices already trade well below the $100 per barrel mark (consumer prices at pump have dropped a little). So I ponder why is our government putting enormous importance to mega-projects that no one cares at all than the welfare of the people who are suffering from a 27-year high inflation?      

It is even harder to believe the viability of this dream corridor amidst a very nasty financial crisis evolving in the developed world. The ongoing crisis in the US and Europe will certainly hit Malaysia’s export-oriented economy very very hard. And we all know this for sure.  

In the end, many corridor projects will just be Dreams, not until everything in the world including Malaysia gets better. Mr Badawi would certainly want his Iskandar Malaysia legacy to live on under the hands of his successor, that most of us already know.

Iskandar Malaysia so far…

Malaysia City now reveals upcoming proposed/approved urban megaprojects within Iskandar Malaysia, formerly known as Iskandar Development Region (IDR) and South Johor Economic Region (SJER). The list (may) excludes ongoing developments in Bandar Nusajaya – the future Johor State capital, Port of Tanjung Pelepas, Senai-Skudai and elsewhere within the region. 
The Iskandar Malaysia, encompassing Johor Bahru and (Bandar) Nusajaya is a new major development zone in the southern Malaysian state of Johor, next to Singapore (Johor is often known as Singapore’s hinterland). It is named after the present sultan, Iskandar Al-haj. At 2,215 km², it is two-and-a-half times bigger than Singapore and 48 times the size of Malaysia’s administrative centre, Putrajaya. It is envisioned to draw investment and business to Johor and will be the biggest development project undertaken in Malaysia. Covering 5 economic zones, it is an ambitious plan to develop south Johor into a global metropolis, modelled after China’s Shenzhen which has greatly benefited from neighbouring Hong Kong. As part of the project, the state administrative capital will be moved to Nusajaya. A Disney theme park has been rumoured to open here as well. [Wikipedia Johor; Wikipedia Iskandar Malaysia; TheStar]
Iskandar Malaysia website: www.iskandarmalaysia.com.my or www.irda.com.my
With the very high construction costs and political uncertainty today, these projects would most probably be affected in some ways.
 
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Lido Boulevard, Lido Beach and reclaimed land, Johor Bahru
Developer:  Central Malaysian Properties (Tan Sri Vincent Tan) and Johor State Inc ::: Development Value: RM2.7 billion ::: To commence in September 2008
Lido Boulevard

Lido Boulevard

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Asia Pacific Trade & Exhibition City (APTEC), Lakehill Resort City and 905-acre Nusa Damai, near Pasir Gudang
 
Developer: Malaysia Pacific Corp Bhd ::: Total Estimated Value: RM6.3 billion ::: Website: www.lakehillresortcity.com
Asia Pacific Trade & Exhibition City (APTEC)

Asia Pacific Trade & Exhibition City (APTEC)

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Bandar MSC Cyberport Phase 1, Kulai
 
Developer: Sunil Mantri Ltd of India, MSC Cyberport Sdn Bhd and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor ::: Development Value: RM1.16 billion ::: Website: www.cyberport.cc
Bandar MSC Cyberport, Kulai

Bandar MSC Cyberport, Kulai

IRDA

Bandar MSC Cyberport, Kulai

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Danga Bay Global City, Johor Bahru

Developer: Ekovest Bhd and proposed partners ::: Total Estimated Value: RM19.2 billion ::: Status: Design Concept ::: Website: www.dangabay.com
Danga Bay Global City

Danga Bay Global City and the renewal of Johor Bahru CBD

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Setia EcoCity, Bukit Indah, near Bandar Nusajaya

Developer: SP Setia Bhd ::: Total Estimated Value: +RM5 billion ::: Website: www.setiahomes.com
Setia EcoCity, Bukit Indah, Nusajaya

Setia EcoCity, Bukit Indah, Nusajaya

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Illuminare City, Jalan Tebrau, Johor Bahru

Investor: Al-Hidayah Group ::: Status: Design Concept

Illuminare City

Illuminare City

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Senai International Airport City

Developer: Senai Airport Transit Services (Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary) ::: Website: www.senaiairport.com 

Senai International Airport City

Senai International Airport

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That’s it for now, more to come next round such as the proposed “Mubadala City Johor”, so stay tuned!

See also: Dream of a Malaysian-Singapore regional metropolis ; Malaysia’s faith in economic planning ; Malaysia faces hurdles on big economic zone