Saturday, May 26, 2007

IDR brewing

You must give credit to the Malaysians for their sheer scale, vision and ambition in coming up with the plans for the Iskandar Development Region. The area that IDR covers is bigger than the whole of Singapore! So if it took Singapore 40 years to arrive at where it is today, I wonder how many decades it will take for the IDR to be realised!

Already, some Malaysians are acting as if the IDR is already built. Well, it is - on paper that is. They are jealous that Singapore is described as a partner in the whole plan, part of a committee that will look into its development. They say, not without justification, that this is a Malaysia plan and vision and that Singapore is but an investor, just like any other country that shows interest in pumping their money into it. But such is the close yet suspicious relationship between the two nations that this has become inevitable.

Malaysians do not have to be too worried though. Remember Suzhou, China? Well, Singapore now has a minority stake in it although it took a lead in planning, developing and realizing the IP. After much public posturing and behind-the-scenes struggles (a word only too familiar with our communist friends), China has majority control over the IP today. If history were to repeat itself, Malaysia will have its IDR - nobody is going to take it away from them. But they must have greater self-confidence and not feel immediately threaten the moment a Singaporean shows up at their doorstep, never mind if no plans are offered. Its a Malaysian plan, OK? Yeah, and I don't think Singapore wants to take it away from them.

But given the sheer scale of the project, Malaysia really needs the right people with the track record to pull off the IDR. Otherwise, the IDR will likely end up as no more than a beautiful model that businessman marvelled at for a while and then moved on to something more practical.

Taking out your spoons before the broth is cooked and ready to eat seems to me to be premature.