Sunday, September 14, 2008

Malay Contractors' Involvement In Iskandar Malaysia Negligible, Says Association

Malay Contractors' Involvement In Iskandar Malaysia Negligible, Says Association

JOHOR BAHARU, Sept 11 (Bernama) -- Though the 2,200km Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor was launched in 2006, the involvement of Johor Malay contractors in the development projects there is negligible.

Johor Malay Contractors' Association of Malaysia president Mahmood Amir says only a handful of the association members were involved in the development of the economic corridor as compared to the size of Iskandar Malaysia.

"Many outsiders, especially friends from other states, told me how fortunate we are (Johor Malay contractors) to have the Iskandar Malaysia project.

"I could only smile (after hearing their remarks) because what is really happening is that not many of us are involved in the Iskandar Malaysia project," he told Bernama.

Since Iskandar Malaysia, an economic corridor encompassing several districts in south Johor was launched two years ago, it has attracted RM33 billion in domestic and foreign investments.

Due to certain reasons, the Johor Malay contractors were not keen to bid for tenders for development projects in the economic corridor, Mahmood says.

Among the reasons they often lament about are not being able to understand the criteria and procedures for tenders called by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority and Iskandar Investment Berhad.

"They (local Malay contractors) don't understand the criteria and procedures required by the two agencies tasked with developing Iskandar Malaysia," he said.

Instead, Mahmood says, the Johor Malay contractors were more inclined to tender for Public Works Department projects as they were familiar with the procedures and conditions stipulated by the government agency.

Furthermore, most of the tenders called at Iskandar Malaysia involved Class "A" and "B" contractors, for projects costing millions of ringgit, whereas the majority of the 4,000 association members were Class "F" contractors.

Also, given the sluggish economic climate, he said, many of the Malay contractors in Johor were "dying" and could ill-afford to buy the tender documents to bid for development projects in Iskandar Malaysia.

"The documents cost up to RM500 for one project and they cannot afford it. Moreover, there is no guarantee they will be awarded the project," he said.

Under these circumstances, Mahmood says it was difficult to meet the target set by Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman that at least 60 per cent of the infrastructure work be given to Bumiputera contractors.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad said recently the Iskandar Malaysia project had not had any direct impact on local residents so far.

"This has caused Iskandar Malaysia not to be well-received by local residents and the business fraternity," added the Johor Baharu member of parliament.


I hope, Shahrir's comments will not be seen as being naughty in the light of coming UMNO election. Questioning the very essence of Iskandar Malaysia is like pointing fingers onto Abdullah because Iskandar or SJER is all his ideas. Extrapolating Zaid's words, Shahrir should resign or be sacked by Abdullah.