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‘Shenzhen of Southeast Asia’: Malaysia’s Johor plays up Singapore-linked special economic zone

The suggested area will comprise Iskandar Malaysia and Pengerang on the east coast of the state, Johor’s chief minister Onn Hafiz Ghazi was cited as saying at the state assembly on Sunday.

If it goes ahead, the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone would be nearly twice the size of China’s Shenzhen at 3,505 sq km.

“I am confident that with the help of the [special economic zone], Johor can become the Shenzhen of Southeast Asia,” Onn Hafiz said, according to The Star.

“In terms of geographical make-up, Shenzhen-Hong Kong is quite similar to Johor-Singapore.”

Johor is proposing 16 economic sectors as part of the zone, spanning electrical and electronics, manufacturing, healthcare and tourism, he said.

“Secretary Meng shared with us their recipe for success: governance reforms to reduce bureaucracy and increase transparency, with an emphasis on openness towards policy changes, technology and knowledge transfer, and innovation in order to remain competitive,” Onn Hafiz said.

Iskandar Malaysia is a 2,217 sq km economic corridor established in 2006 which covers most of Johor’s strategic infrastructure and real estate projects.

Pengerang is home to the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex, a major petrochemical facility that includes the Pengerang Energy Complex being developed by Singapore’s ChemOne Holdings Pte.