Is Batu Pahat in Johor the next Iskandar? Developing the area could signify the northward expansion of the Singapore-Johor megalopolis
July 11, 2014
ON July 30, the Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor will celebrate its eighth anniversary. Thus far, Iskandar has been a great success story, attracting over S$54 billion in investments since 2006. Nonetheless, it may already be time to search for the next frontier of investment.
THE Hillview Loft condominium complex, perched on a quiet hill and surrounded by lush rainforest, towers above the city of Batu Pahat, Johor. Dubbed "The Fortress" by some residents, the three luxury high-rise buildings are housed within a gated compound equipped with entry checkpoints and 24-hour security. Wealthy Malaysians and a handful of expats from all over the world - Canada, China, Germany, the Middle East, Singapore, and the United States - park their BMWs and Range Rovers in an underground deck beneath the Olympic-sized swimming pool. After work, residents hit the in-house gym or the synthetic-grass tennis courts before retiring to their flats to chow down on organic dinners purchased from local markets.
Batu Pahat's transformation
Located just 110 kilometres north-west of Singapore and 240 kilometres south-east of Kuala Lumpur, the district of Batu Pahat (meaning "chiselled stone" in Malay) is comprised of nearly half-a-million people. Some 20 years ago, the sort of lifestyle and economic prosperity seen today would have been unthinkable; Batu Pahat was little more than a set of sleepy villages. But today, "BP", as it is affectionately referred to by locals, is the second largest city in the state of Johor (after Johor Bahru) in terms of both population and manufacturing production. The area has transformed itself into something of a boomtown, relying on industries as wide-ranging as textiles, food processing, and electronics to spur growth. BP accounts for 50 per cent of the textiles exported out of Malaysia, and is home to production facilities for a number of multinational corporations, including Fujitsu and Sharp.