PORT KLANG, Malaysia - Seeing is believing and the sight of Port Klang Free Zone now tells a very different story.
Once a controversial project, and described by some critics as scandalous, PKFZ is now a progressive business hub with participation from big domestic and foreign players.
"PKFZ is very vibrant now," said Port Klang Authority (PKA) chairman Tan Sri Kong Cho Ha during a tour of the zone by The Star media team on Thursday. Also present was PKFZ chairman Datuk Teh Kim Poo.
The majority of PKFZ investors were big players, he said, singling out Norwegian oil and gas company, Aker Solutions, which boasts almost a billion ringgit of investments. It was among the early birds in PKFZ which began operations in 2006.
"PKFZ has the confidence of investors, with more than 80 per cent of its land for lease already taken up," Kong said, adding that some 243ha out of the 405ha in PKFZ is for lease.
The rest of the area comprises a hotel, four office blocks, an exhibition centre and warehouses. The four-star Harbour View Worldwide Hotel opened last month.
Kong said the free zone had its advantages and the activities there such as manufacturing for export were not subjected to tax.
PKFZ, he said, had raked in about RM2bil in investments to date, and the amount was expected to go up to RM3bil in the next three years.
Kong said the current annual revenue was between RM50mil and RM60mil, and it was expected to go up to more than RM100mil in the next three to five years.
He said PKFZ would also add much value to Port Klang, which owns the free zone. Ranked the 12th largest container port in the world with a volume of 11 million twenty-foot equivalent units (Teus) now, Kong said PKFZ would be able to contribute one million of the volume.
He said that PKA was confident of Port Klang meeting its target to become one of the world's busiest container ports.
To cope with the demand for PKFZ, Kong said PKA would consider opportunities for expansion and the land should ideally be not more than a 2km radius from Port Klang.
He said PKFZ would be going all out to woo Chinese investors in line with the China Initiative - 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai recently said the Silk Road initiative would strengthen connectivity between China and ASEAN nations and support economic growth and trade activities within the region.