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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        18  April 2011

New city near Singapore moves forward

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A new metropolis three times the size of neighboring Singapore is taking shape in the foothills of southern Malaysia, where officials and investors have equally huge ambitions for the city.

Dust billows across the horizon as sun-scorched construction crews lay roads, drainage canals, street lamps, power stations and other key installations for a development known as Iskandar Malaysia.

Rolling terrain once covered with palm oil plantations and bush has been bulldozed to make way for theme parks, luxury homes, international schools, hotels, hospitals, a movie studio and a business district by 2025.

In short, a new Singapore is being built in an area covering 2,217 square kilometers in Johor state.

Iskandar, one of five “economic growth corridors” Malaysia is developing, was launched in 2006 and will integrate existing towns, seaports and an airport with the new projects being built from scratch.

But instead of pitting it as a rival to the rich city-state, Malaysia is asking Singapore investors to take part in the project.

“We see ourselves as collaborating because both countries realize that in order to create more wealth and better distribution of the wealth, we need each other,” said Ismail Ibrahim, chief executive of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority.

Asia’s strong recovery from the global recession and the improved bilateral ties between Singapore and Malaysia have made the environment more conducive to promote the Iskandar region to investors, analysts said.

The US-based Chelsea Premium Outlets chain — known for no-frills shops selling luxury brands at discounted prices worldwide — will open an outlet in the Iskandar region in November.

Britain’s Newcastle University Medical School — one of six universities in Iskandar’s planned “educity” complex — will admit its first batch of students later this year. Other schools in the complex include the Netherlands’ Maritime Institute of Technology, England’s University of Southampton and Singapore’s Management Development Institute.

Legoland Malaysia — Asia’s first Lego theme park — is slated to open in the Medini sector in late 2012, next to a Legoland Hotel and a lifestyle retail mall.

A 300-bed and 150-suite Gleneagles Medini Hospital costing $156 million is also in the works.

Gleneagles is a popular private hospital in Singapore that caters to wealthy locals, expatriates and “medical tourists” who combine treatment with leisure.

Asian movie production will get a boost with a Pinewood International Studio, supported by an attached “media village.”

Houses, luxury apartments and waterfront enclaves are being built to meet the needs of those relocating to the area.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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