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Johor to develop agriculture, export extra meals to Singapore, says Chief Minister on COVID-19 financial pivot

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JOHOR BAHRU: Because it pivots from the cruel financial influence brought on by COVID-19, Johor is eager to develop its agriculture sector and place itself as a key meals exporter to Singapore, mentioned the state’s Chief Minister Hasni Mohammad.

Talking to CNA in an unique interview on Thursday (Nov 19), Mr Hasni was requested on the state authorities’s plans to assist companies and residents impacted by the pandemic.

He mentioned that the federal government is seeking to deal with agricultural actions and create secure digital platforms in order that locals may be concerned within the gig financial system.

“I imagine that Johor has at all times been robust in our agricultural exercise and I wish to increase it additional. The truth is, greater than US$20 billion of meals product is exported to Singapore, and if Johor can place ourselves strongly, I imagine that our meals business shall be a key contributor to our future financial system,” mentioned Mr Hasni.

Johor’s main agricultural merchandise embody oil palm, livestock farming in addition to vegatables and fruits.

Singapore reportedly imports about 37 per cent of its hen provide and 15 per cent of its fish from Malaysia, amongst different produce like eggs, greens and milk.

Mr Hasni added that increasing Johor’s agriculture sector would additionally increase the state’s meals safety. It can additionally imply the southern state can act as a “meals financial institution” for different nations, together with Singapore.

Mr Hasni mentioned that serving as a meals financial institution for Singapore could be one space of collaboration between the 2 neighbours.

READ: From malls to hotels, the Singaporean haunts that have gone quiet in Johor Bahru amid COVID-19


Commenting on broader efforts to assist Johor get better from COVID-19, Mr Hasni famous that many Johoreans have been retrenched or are unemployed. 

He mentioned that the state authorities is set to assist them with job alternatives or supply to coach and upskill them.

Nonetheless, he acknowledged that the state authorities may not have enough information, to precisely collate info on the residents who require help.

“The one challenge the state is going through is the (lack of) information. We all know for a reality that everyone is affected (by COVID-19), however we have to know whether or not our information covers those that require our assist,” mentioned Mr Hasni.

“(Now the info we’ve) positively doesn’t embody 100 per cent of these on the market. If it’s lower than 50 per cent or 60 per cent, then it’s positively not sufficient. I’ve to do one thing as a result of I would like to have the ability to seize all those that require help in no matter kind. If we’ve full and correct information, we can plan issues out significantly better,” the chief minister added.


Commenting on Singapore-Malaysia bilateral tasks, Mr Hasni was optimistic that the 2 rail tasks, the Fast Transit System (RTS) Hyperlink and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore Excessive-Pace Rail (HSR) mission, would profit Johoreans as soon as they’re accomplished.

The RTS Hyperlink goals to attach Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru to Woodlands in Singapore, serving about 10,000 passengers per hour every method to assist ease site visitors congestion on the Causeway.

Building for Bukit Chagar station is scheduled to kick off on Sunday afternoon through a digital floor breaking ceremony.

“(The RTS Hyperlink) is a recreation changer for us as a result of for the primary time in historical past, we’ve such a complicated and up to date mode of journey between Malaysia and Singapore. So I look ahead to that launching and it’ll create jobs and it’ll increase the financial system,” mentioned Mr Hasni.

RTS Link signing: Lee Hsien Loong and Muhyiddin Yassin on Causeway
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met on the halfway level of the Causeway on Jul 30, 2020 to witness the ceremony marking the official resumption of the Fast Transit System (RTS) Hyperlink mission. (Photograph: Gaya Chandramohan)

Beforehand, it was introduced that the development will occur in two phases. The event and civil section will happen from 2021 to finish of 2024, whereas the commissioning and testing section will happen from 2025 till the tip of 2026. 

Passenger service is focused to start out from end-2026. 

In the meantime, for the HSR, Mr Hasni mentioned he was optimistic {that a} resolution shall be made earlier than the tip of the yr on whether or not either side will proceed with the development section.

He added that the mission is one thing which “offers hope and expectations” to the locals because it boosts employment alternatives and financial actions within the area.

HSR blueprint Malaysia station
An artist’s impression of a KL-Singapore Excessive Pace Rail (HSR) station. (Photograph: MyHSR) 

In September 2018, Singapore and Malaysia agreed to postpone the development of the HSR till end-Might this yr. Malaysia needed to pay Singapore S$15 million for prices incurred in suspending the mission.

Malaysia later requested an additional seven-month extension to permit either side to debate and assess Malaysia’s proposed modifications to the mission.

Mr Khaw Boon Wan, who was then Singapore’s Transport Minister, agreed to the “remaining extension of the suspension interval” till Dec 31. 

Each nations had additionally introduced that the HSR service could be anticipated to start out by Jan 1, 2031, as an alternative of the unique graduation date of Dec 31, 2026, because of that suspension.

The proposed HSR line goals to cut back journey time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to round 90 minutes by practice, from the present 11 hours on present practice companies.

When operational, the road will supply an categorical service between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, a home service from Kuala Lumpur to Iskandar Puteri and a shuttle service from Iskandar Puteri to Jurong East.

In the course of the interview, the chief minister additionally touched on the Johor Financial Tourism and Cultural workplace (JETCO) in Singapore, which is slated to open within the first quarter of 2021.

Mr Hasni mentioned the workplace will facilitate Singapore companies who’re to start operations in Johor in addition to entice investments for the state.

READ: Johor state government to establish company in Singapore for boosting trade ties

He added that JETCO can also be a car for the Johor state authorities officers to be seconded to varied businesses in Singapore, in order that “they’ll study and be uncovered to new methods of doing issues”.

“We must always study from Singapore’s success tales,” mentioned Mr Hasni.

“In managing water, the surroundings, how sure infrastructure are carried out, and even housing insurance policies,” he added.

Tune in to CNA on Monday morning from 7am to see extra of what the Chief Minister has to say about Johor’s financial system and cooperation with Singapore.

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