“This is no ordinary manifesto.” This was how Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin described the Barisan Nasional Johor manifesto, which he unveiled yesterday.
The manifesto was drafted based on three targets. First, to fulfil the requirements and enhance the overall wellbeing of Bangsa Johor.
Second, to position Johor as the new southern economic force which has its unique, sizeable and significant contributions to Malaysia.
Third, to prepare and catapult Johor as a viable competitor to all, especially Singapore.
These three targets will be achieved via five future pledges or Johor Hi-5, which are: prosperous economic growth; a comprehensive infrastructure; mental, talent and skills development; an achievement-oriented leadership, and a cultured community guided by Islam.
Johor’s aspiration to be a southern powerhouse is not merely built on economic targets or erecting skyscrapers, but shaping a society that is prosperous.
This is the pith and marrow of the first pledge, which is, “a prosperous economic growth, which aims to create 25,000 new jobs, while easing the cost of living for those in the B40 and middle-income group”.
A total of 100,000 affordable homes will be built come 2023, which is in line with the wish of Johor folk who dream of owning their own homes.
Does prosperity not begin with owning a home?
Johor pays great attention to enhance the capability of its people to lead a better life. Thus, this manifesto focuses on a comprehensive infrastructure system.
These include providing widespread cellular phone network connectivity and upgrading the speed capacity and expanding Johor WiFi.
Johor’s proximity to Singapore has positioned it as the southern gateway for the country.
The construction of the high-speed rail will connect Kuala Lumpur with Singapore through main cities in Johor such as Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat and Muar. The project will have tremendous economic benefits for Johor folk.
The New Johor Decade will be spearheaded by top talents, minds and skills native to the state.
The BN Johor manifesto pledges to multiply opportunities for education and training for Bangsa Johor, hence realising the one family, one skill policy.
The religious education system, which is part and parcel of Johor’s identity, will continue to be modernised and enhanced.
In conjunction with the 100 years of Sekolah Agama Kerajaan Johor (SAKJ), many initiatives will be set in motion, such as the construction of another 30 SAKJs, the introduction of a skills module to meet the needs of the 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) like language classes, coding, self-improvement and a Bangsa Johor curriculum.
The aspiration for Johor to be the most developed state by 2028 would depend on exemplary leadership.
To achieve this, the state has developed a transparent, inclusive and integral administration culture, particularly among excos and civil servants.
This includes making it compulsory for its 56 state legislative assembly members and all 5,000 local authorities to take the corruption-free pledge.
What makes Johor extraordinary is because its people still adhere to religious and cultural teachings.
Hence, Johor Hi-5 provides a special segment on efforts to generate an Islamic, cultured and sustainable society.
Despite its goal to be a developed state, Johor has not neglected its roots and heritage. This is evident with the state government’s intention of making Johor the international centre for Malay civilisation.
Work is in progress to build a digital library to compile all materials and documents of the Johor Malay Civilisation. To protect and conserve the environment, two million trees will be planted by 2020.
The Green Johor Incentive worth RM1 million will be given to 50 suppliers and distributors of food trays made from plant-based biodegradable items.
In pursuit of the Islamic Johor agenda, more Johor Wakaf Clinics will be built to accommodate the rural clinic services in each district.
Two wakaf hospitals will be built in the next 10 years, while ensuring that there is at least one haemodialysis centre in every state legislative assembly.
Apart from the five main agendas in Johor Hi-5, the manifesto focuses on five special target groups — Johor youth (OMJ), Felda community, people with disability (OKU), Orang Asli and women.
The youth, who are the most important segment of voters in the 14th General Election, will be taken care of with employment opportunities, education, skills training and a prosperous life.
The Johor Jobs for Johoreans and other Malaysians policy is introduced, on top of providing an initial capital of RM1,000 to RM2,000 annually through the OMJ Indienomics.
The Felda community will continue to be assisted through initiatives, such as funding for skills training for 500 youth annually for the next five years and socio-economic transformation programmes to upskill entrepreneurs and cooperatives.
No one in Team Johor will be iscriminated, especially women and mothers, as well as groups, such as OKUs and the Orang Asli, who need protection. Capacity-building and social-engineering will enable them to contribute to the state’s development, too.
The writer is unable to list all the initiatives under BN Johor manifesto. Nevertheless, it is clear that the manifesto is an important document that has outlined programmes for the future of Johor for the next five years. It certainly looks like the opposition would have to wait longer to capture the “Southern Tiger”, which is going after the lion.
DR MOHD IZANI MOHD ZAIN is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Human Ecology,
Universiti Putra Malaysia, and
Associate Fellow of the National Professors Council