[作者 Contributor Andy Chia 中译 Translator 吕大人 照片 Photo credit 刘大人]
Driving around Bukit Indah, Medini and Puteri Harbour in Iskandar Malaysia, we can easily spot many Korean restaurants that serve authentic Korean cuisine and you will be greeted by friendly Korean restaurant owners that make you feel like you are actually ordering food in Korea. There are also many Korean hair salons, Korean grocery store and Korean kids walking around the streets. Clearly, Iskandar Malaysia is becoming a more and more popular destination for Korean to live, work, study and play.
At the same time, Chinese is also moving to Iskandar Malaysia with at least 20 Chinese restaurants in Bukit Indah region and there are more and more Chinese young kids schooling at international school in Iskandar Puteri. These are the rich Chinese from big Chinese cities such as Beijing and they are moving to Malaysia to start a new life.
So, what is attracting foreigners to move to Iskandar Malaysia?
A breath of “fresh air”
没错，正是我们每日赖以为生所呼吸的空气。大部分马来西亚国民认为空气清新这回事是理所当然的生活场景，见惯了蓝天白云，几乎无法想像这到底有何诱人之处。殊不知，对于移居至马的海外人士而言，这却是吸引他们最关键的因素之一，绝大部分本地人 (或几乎每个人) 都没有戴口罩的习惯，但在某些国家，由于空污严重，戴口罩这一日常现象也就显得不足为奇了。
Yes, the air that we breathe in and out. Most of the Malaysian take the clean air in Malaysia for granted and we have so used to seeing the blue sky with white clouds every day. This is possibly the least expected factor from the Malaysian perspective but it is one of the most important factors to foreigners living in Malaysia. Most people (or almost everyone) in Malaysia do not wear a mask but it is a common sight in some countries that people wear the mask due to air pollution.
Building Infrastructure to Support Growth
大多数的马来西亚城镇皆与高速公路紧密相连，交通便利。此外，全马各地皆可轻易取得净水、互联网设施与电力供应。马来西亚亦有两个集装箱港口 (分别位于吉隆坡与依斯干达特区)，就吞吐量而言，已跻身全球最繁忙的20大集装箱港口之一。而位于马来西亚雪邦的吉隆坡国际机场 (KLIA) ，也在全球连通性最强的机场中排名第12位。
Most of the cities and towns in Malaysia are well connected to highway and there is easy access to clean treated water, internet access and electricity supply across Malaysia. Malaysia has 2 container ports (located in Kuala Lumpur and Iskandar Malaysia) that are ranked as top 20 busiest container port in the world in terms of volume. Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is ranked as 12th most well-connected airport in the world (3rd in Asia Pacific region).
Embracing diversity in multicultural communities
It is very common for Malaysian to speak at least 2 to 5 different languages and English is one of the most widely spoken languages in Malaysia. Malaysia also has about 8 million population that can speak fluent Mandarin and Cantonese which make visitors from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore feel at home. There is virtually no language barrier for most foreigners visiting Malaysia.
Affluent yet affordable living
Although the cost of living in Malaysia has been on the rising trend, Malaysia is still sitting outside the global top 150 list. Kuala Lumpur is the most expensive city in Malaysia with a global ranking of 188th. The low cost of living has attracted many foreigners moving to Malaysia to expand the business and settle down with the whole families. There is a recent trend that, people are moving from Singapore to Iskandar Malaysia (only 2km apart) to enjoy the quality of lifestyle at 1/3 of the cost in Singapore.
A lifestyle of convenience
在马来西亚的大街小巷，随处可见许多全球知名的连锁品牌如麦当劳、肯德基、星巴克、The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf、鼎泰丰、7-Evelen便利店、全家便利商店、屈臣氏、永旺零售及乐购 (特易购)。此外，大型超市与杂货商如雨后春笋般在各区涌现，许多从欧美、澳洲、日韩、中国、台湾及马来西亚本土的产品皆可轻易购得。
Malaysia is home to many global well-known retail franchises and you can easily find them in every corner of the streets in Malaysia, for example, McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Din Tai Fung, 7-Eleven, Family Mart, Watsons, AEON and Tesco. Supermarkets and grocery stores are mushrooming in Malaysia, offering a wide range of products from the US, Europe, Australia, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and Malaysia.
Asia’s emerging education hub
来自英、美、加、新加坡以及荷兰的知名国际学校、学院及大学皆在马来西亚依斯干达特区设校，为来自亚洲与欧洲各地的学生提供相同质量的小学、中学以及高等教育。目前，区内闻名国际的英国顶尖学府马尔堡学院马来西亚分校 (Marlborough College) 约有80%的学生来自欧洲、日本与韩国；而双威国际学校 (Sunway International School) 亦有约30-40%的韩国学生；莱佛士美国学校更拥有全东南亚唯一的天文馆。
Many reputable international schools, colleges and universities from the UK, US, Canada, Singapore and the Netherlands have set up their campus in Iskandar Malaysia to offer the same quality primary, secondary and tertiary education to the Asian & European students. For example, Marlborough College (the top college in the UK) has about 80% students from Europe, Japan and Korea, Sunway International School has about 30-40% students from Korea and Raffles American School is the only school in Southeast Asia that has its own planetarium.
Freedom from natural disasters
Malaysia has no typhoon, earthquake, tsunami and volcano and the weather in Malaysia has been consistent at the comfortable range of about 24-32 degree Celsius throughout the year. Malaysia has recently been awarded as the best country to retire in Asia by US-based International Living Magazine, also partly due to the excellent healthcare system and friendly policies towards foreigners.
Positive economic growth outlook
Iskandar Malaysia has attracted USD69 billion from both domestic and foreign investors since the inception of Iskandar Malaysia in 2006 and the vast creation of new jobs over the past 10 years has driven the strong influx of Malaysian from other parts of Malaysia and foreigners into Iskandar Malaysia. The Malaysian government forecasts 1 million population growth from now to achieve the 3 million population mark by 2025.
The “Singapore” factor
Singapore is a beautiful and developed country but the high cost of living has been a major concern for most people and companies in Singapore. The close collaboration between Malaysia and Singapore to set up Singapore hospital, Singapore industrial park, Singapore universities and Singapore marina club in Iskandar Malaysia has paved way for Iskandar Malaysia to be a developed city in the near future. The discussion about the extension of Singapore MRT to Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail (with a stop in Iskandar Malaysia) is currently on-going.
The above factors are driving the strong growth of population (both Malaysian and foreigners) in Iskandar Malaysia and it is not surprising that IKEA, and most recently Toppen has chosen to open the Southeast Asia largest outlet in Iskandar Malaysia in anticipation of the strong growth in demand for furniture on the back of rapidly growing population size in Iskandar Malaysia. Shenzhen is not built overnight and it is normal for a new city to take 2 to 3 decades to go through a complete cycle of planning, execution and growth before it becomes a world-class metropolitan.
We are witnessing and writing the history of the growth of Iskandar Malaysia and it is heartening to see many foreigners having strong confidence about Iskandar Malaysia and joining hand with the Malaysian government and Malaysian people to develop the city together. Once you start analysing and looking at Iskandar Malaysia from foreigner perspective and comparing the difference between Iskandar Malaysia and other Asian cities, you will be amazed by the huge potential and good opportunities that Iskandar Malaysia is presenting to you. Let’s move forward together to make Iskandar Malaysia the best place to live, work, play and study!
Andy Chia has spent 7 years in promoting Iskandar Malaysia as the ideal destination for business expansion and property investment in the Asia Pacific region including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore. He has a master degree in finance from the UK university and has previously worked in finance and banking sector (Westport from Hutchison Whampoa, HSBC bank and UOB bank) for about 15 years in Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.