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Business

Building on Singapore's land shortage

Iskandar Malaysia, an integrated development bordering Singapore, owes something to the Shenzhen-Hong Kong model in China.

SINGAPORE -- Land-starved Singapore is building an industrial park and motor circuit next door in Malaysia to feed its need for space and speed.

     Ascendas Group, Singapore's leading developer, is partnering Malaysia's UEM Sunrise in a 40-60 joint venture to develop Nusajaya Tech Park on 2 sq. km in Iskandar Malaysia, the development corridor in Johor, Malaysia's southern state.

     Nusajaya is a long-term integrated development with dedicated residential, education and leisure zones alongside the industrial area. With a gross development value of 3.7 billion ringgit ($1 billion), the project is being pitched to Singaporean companies in various sectors, including precision engineering, marine construction, logistics and solar energy.

     Located 15 minutes from the border and three times the overall size of Singapore, Iskandar Malaysia has attracted 158 billion ringgit in total investment since its inception in 2006 as the Iskandar Development Region.  

     Commercial sites are not the only attraction Malaysia has to offer Singapore. Fastrack Autosports, a company linked to Singaporean tycoon Peter Lim, is developing Motorsports City on 270 acres. Billed as the "Nurburgring of Iskandar Malaysia", the circuit will cater to motor, motorcycle and kart enthusiasts.

     "We will also look for German and Japanese carmakers to use the track to study consumer needs," said Fastrack Director Barry Kan at a press briefing on Wednesday.

     UEM Sunrise is also the master developer of Gerbang Nusajaya, which covers another 18.4 sq. km area within Iskandar Malaysia and has a gross development value of 42 billion ringgit.

     The developer is partnering plantation company Kuala Lumpur Kepong to build high-end residential properties. There have been concerns about a luxury residential bubble in Iskandar Malaysia as leading developers from China, Malaysia and Singapore compete for affluent buyers, particularly from Singapore.

     "Sales of properties, especially landed ones, are still doing well despite the negative perceptions," said Ho Chin Soon, a real estate research company owner.

     The Malaysian and Singaporean governments have agreed in principle to build high speed rail and subway links between the two countries by 2020, but there are no signs of these projects starting any time soon. 

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