Johor safe for investors, says KL minister

MALAYSIA - Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has assured foreign investors that measures have been taken to ensure their safety, particularly in Johor state, which is home to the ambitious Iskandar investment hub.

In an interview with the Bernama news agency last Friday, he noted that Singaporeans have expressed concerns about their safety in Johor due to frequent media reports about crimes committed there.

But he assured them that "appropriate measures" have been taken to ensure their safety.

Datuk Seri Dr Zahid, who made an introductory three-day visit to Singapore last week, told Bernama: "There have been concerns among Singaporeans when they travel to Johor Baru, due to negative publicity in the Singapore mass media on the perceived low level of safety in Johor.

"What we know is that Singaporeans are the biggest investors in Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor, and Malaysia must provide the safety and security assurance for their huge investments."

Dr Zahid gave no details on the security measures taken by the Malaysian police. But he told Bernama that he had instructed Johor police chief Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff to brief current and potential investors from Singapore on the safety measures.

"We will also bring the Singapore media to Johor Baru next week to brief it on efforts and programmes being made to convince investors and visitors to Malaysia on their safety," he said.

Dr Zahid's reassurances come less than three months after Johor police sought to quash the "exaggerated" perception that the state is unsafe.

Johor has seen some high-profile crime cases involving Singaporeans. In July 2012, several family members of former TV reporter Rita Zahara were kidnapped by two men armed with a knife and a gun. They made off with the car and valuables worth about $100,000, and later released the four victims - Ms Zahara's two children, her sister, and domestic helper - unhurt.

The Johor police authorities have stressed that crimes involving Singaporeans are in the minority. In 2012, for instance, Johor saw about 19,000 crime cases, but less than 500 of them involved Singaporeans. Malaysian and Singaporean law enforcement and security agencies have also worked closely over the years to tackle cross-border crime and other security threats.

Dr Zahid, who is an old friend of Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean, agreed during his Singapore visit this week to meet every year with DPM Teo to maintain close bilateral relations, and keep each other updated on developments in the areas of security and law enforcement.

During his visit, Dr Zahid also called on Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral relations between Singapore and Malaysia.

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