Unprecedented M’sia-S’pore ties

JOHOR BARU: Relations between Malaysia and Singapore entered a dynamic phase as investments from the island republic poured into property development projects in Iskandar Malaysia and the prime ministers of both countries agreed to a long-awaited high-speed rail link connecting Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong jointly launched two integrated wellness projects in Medini, Iskandar Malaysia, an event further cementing Singapore’s commitment to Iskandar Malaysia.

Earlier yesterday in Singapore, both prime ministers witnessed the unveiling of the design of the Marina One project which is developed by M+S Pte Ltd, a 60:40 joint venture between Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd.

Temasek and CapitaLand Pte Ltd yesterday also signed an agreement with Integrated Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd for the joint development of a piece of land in Danga Bay.

The entry of the Singapore companies into Iskandar Malaysia is unprecedented and a far cry from the muted relations between both countries in the 1990s when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Lee Kuan Yew were heading the governments in Malaysia and Singapore.

On the high speed rail link, Bernama reports that the project was announced following a four-eye meeting between both prime ministers and bilateral talks held in Singapore in conjunction with the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat.

According to the announcement, the rail project, which is expected to be completed in 2020, will dramatically improve the connectivity between Malaysia and Singapore as travel time would be cut down to only 90 minutes. A joint ministerial committee will look into the details and design of the high speed rail link.

The two wellness projects that were launched in Medini yesterday are Afiniti Medini and Avira. They have a combined gross development value of RM3 billion.

Avira is being positioned as a wellness resort consisting of residential and commercial development while Afiniti Medini is set to be shaped  into a regional wellness centre for families, tourists and professionals.

Speaking at the launch of the wellness projects, Najib said the developments would not only benefit those involved in the projects but also help strengthen ties between Malaysia and Singapore.

“During our bilateral discussions this [yesterday] morning, we discussed the importance for business groups from both countries to meet on a regular basis and to encourage investors from Singapore to relocate here, as well as attract new investors to Iskandar,” he said in his speech.

Singapore’s Lee said the Malaysian government has shown its commitment in developing projects in Iskandar Malaysia, which has encouraged private sector investments to pour into the region, especially from the republic.

“I believe there are a lot of opportunities because from the Singapore point of view, we are developing and at the same time there are a lot of spillovers.

“ (For) Singapore companies that want to expand, or foreign companies that come to Singapore but couldn’t quite fit in, then I think Iskandar Malaysia offers a lot of opportunities for them,” he said.

The Afiniti Medini wellness project is developed by Pulau Indah Ventures Sdn Bhd, a 50:50 joint venture between Khazanah Nasional and Temasek.

Located on an approximately five-acre site in Medini North, Afiniti will encompass among others a five-storey wellness centre and a 33-storey building with 310 service apartment units which will be managed by The Ascott Ltd’s Somerset brand.

The urban wellness centre will also have a four-storey corporate training centre and a 22-storey strata residence.

The wellness centre will be run by Parkway Pantai Ltd, a subsidiary of IHH Healthcare Bhd, while CIMB Investment Bank Bhd, the investment bank arm of CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, will acquire the corporate training centre.

According to Tan Boon Khai, regional general manager of The Ascott Ltd, the total land acquisition cost for Afiniti was about RM300 million. The first phase of the centre, which is the strata residences portion, will be launched in the second quarter this year.

“Monitoring the market trend, with surrounding launches of strata residences being priced at between RM700 to RM800 psf, our price will be competitive along with the market trend and we believe that we have a unique proposition, being a wellness centre in the heart of Medini,” said Tan.

The Avira wellness centre is developed by Nuri Merdu Sdn Bhd, a 50:50 joint venture between Pulau Indah Ventures and Eastern & Oriental Bhd.

Spanning approximately 210 acres, Avira will feature a wellness sanctuary which spreads over 12.5 acres, 96 bungalow units, 458 units of  terrace homes, 168 units of semi-detached homes, 1,769 units of condominiums, 320 units of serviced apartments and 13.8 acres of commercial centres.

Launched in 2006 as the South Johor Economic Region, Iskandar Malaysia has since received investment pledges worth more than RM100 billion from local and foreign investors. The development is modelled after the Shenzhen-Hong Kong development, and it leverages on the location and strength of Singapore and the fast growing economies of the region.

 

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 20, 2013.

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