KUALA LUMPUR: Mindful of the negative impact of urbanisation, Johor ― the second most populous state in the country after Selangor ― is taking steps to mitigate these issues.

In Malaysia, the proportion of urban population increased to 71 per cent in 2010 compared with 62 per cent in 2000.

According to the state's Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, his administration has always been focused on inclusive urbanisation.

“This means no matter how rapid our progress is, no one is left behind. To ensure that we have a balanced development with strong foreign investment, while safeguarding our local interests, we have established international zones for foreign ownership.

“Our approach goes deeper in the heartlands where we are embarking on a rural rejuvenation plan so that the urban-rural gap can be further narrowed,” he told Malay Mail Online.

Saying that each district holds widely untapped economic potential, Khaled added that the Johor Strategic Growth Plan has identified key growth enablers unique to each.

“This strategy will be the catalyst while leveraging on each district's unique economic proposition, which will spur growth through a much more diversified income generator.

“This ultimately allows us to achieve equal economic distribution throughout the state,” he added.

In terms of transportation, Khaled pointed out that the state was “already well connected”, noting that the arteries of a well-developed state encompasses accessibility, which includes public transportation as a whole.

To complement the state's rapid urbanisation and issues that it may pose in the transportation sector, Khaled cited the mapping of the state's transportation plan through its Public Transformation Masterplan Johor 2015-2045 (PIPAJ).

“Ultimately, our mission is to achieve a reduced dependency on private transportation; an integrated and sustainable transit transportation system; transition into an environment-friendly transportation; and a fast and efficient logistics system,” he said.

PIPAJ, launched by Khaled earlier this month, is a comprehensive transportation plan that aims to improve land, air and sea transport.

With the High Speed Rail (HSR) plan in the pipeline, Khaled said he was taking the state a step further by addressing future transportation needs.

“We are embarking on a more revolutionary project to enhance the urban transportation network via the HSR that connects Kuala Lumpur to Singapore through Johor.

“This will become an important stimulus to intensify Johor's economy thus becoming one of the highest contributors to Malaysia’s GDP,” he said.

On whether there were enough job opportunities to create new businesses and further stimulate economic activities in the state, Khaled said Johor's economic sources were diversified and that they were enough to cater to the current and growing demand.

“We leverage on the unique strength of each district and this increases the value proposition,” he added.

In Pontian, he cited the Southern Sanctuary, an eco-tourism development for fishery and maritime activities, light manufacturing, food processing and construction as among the development strategies drafted under the Johor Strategic Development Plan.

When contacted, Johor DAP chairman Liew Chin Tong acknowledged some of these developments in the state to tackle possible urbanisation issues, but stressed that more can be done.

“In the context of Johor, the development in Iskandar [Malaysia] shouldn't be all about properties alone.

“There should be more efforts to generate decent employments in smaller towns in central and northern Johor,” he said.

According to the Department of Statistics, Johor's population was at 3.35 million in 2010 and it recorded 71.9 per cent in the level of urbanisation in the same period.

In terms of the level of urbanisation, Johor was placed behind Labuan, Malacca, Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya for that year.

Both Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya recorded 100 per cent in the level of urbanisation in 2010.

Source: Malay Mail