Malaysia unveils $32 billion plan to develop rural Malay belt.KUALA LUMPUR Kuala Lumpur (kwä`lə lm`pr), city (1990 est. pop. , Oct. 29 Kyodo
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Monday launched an ambitious 112 billion ringgit ring·git
See Table at currency.
Noun 1. ringgit - the basic unit of money in Malaysia; equal to 100 sen (about $32 billion) plan to boost development in the rural Malay heartland in the east coast.
The plan covers the states of Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang and the district of Mersing in Johor in what is officially known as the Eastern Corridor Economic Region. This is the third and final of a series of large-scale development blueprints that Abdullah rolled out in recent months and what political watchers gauged to be another indicator that an election is around the corner.
''The plan involves 227 projects worth 112 billion ringgit to be implemented within 12 years to boost the image of this region to be more developed and dynamic,'' the premier said at the launch of the project in Kuala Terengganu Kuala Terengganu (kwä`lə tərĕng-gä`n) or Kuala Trengganu (trĕng–), city (1991 pop. , the capital of Terengganu state.
The government would allocate 39 percent of the funding needed while the rest would come from the private sector.
Nearly half of the money would go towards improving infrastructure like building roads, upgrading airports and sea ports and expanding broadband connections in a region known as the Malay heartland where ethnic Malays make up 87 percent of the total 3.9 million population of the three states.
These states are however, among the poorest in the country.
Terengganu may be Malaysia's biggest crude oil producer, but accounted for 15.4 percent of the incidences of poverty in the country. Kelantan's poverty level was 10.6 percent.
These two states are always at the frontline in the battle for votes during elections.
Kelantan is the only state ruled by the opposition Pan Islamic Party An Islamic party is a party that works for promoting Islam while an Islamic political party is a political party that promotes Islam as a political movement by offering nominees for election in a democracy - of which there are several in the Islamic world. . The fundamentalist party also has strong support in Terengganu.
The plan drawn up by national oil company Petronas Bhd. is what Abdullah hoped would be the carrot to lure more support and maybe break the opposition party's 17-year grip on Kelantan.
Under the plan, with agriculture and tourism as the main focus, Abdullah said more than 560,000 jobs would be created by 2020.
The government targets the economy under the Eastern Corridor Economic Region to grow an annual average of 7.2 percent with household income rising to 5,227 ringgit a month by the year 2020 from 2,267 ringgit in 2005.
In Terengganu, where the oil and gas and petrochemical sectors have already drawn investments from major oil companies, there are measures to expand it further. A plastic manufacturing zone would be established in the state, Abdullah said.
An ''International Digital Business Exchange'' that would serve as a major Internet exchange See IXP and NAP. for Southeast Asia would be set up in Terengganu too.
The launch of the Eastern Corridor Economic Region comes on the heels of the 177 billion ringgit Northern Corridor Economic Region Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) (Malay: Wilayah Ekonomi Koridor Utara) is a new economic development corridor in Malaysia. This programme is a Government initiative to accelerate economic growth and elevate income levels in the north of Peninsular Malaysia - master plan that was unveiled in July.
Last November, Abdullah kicked off the 105 billion ringgit Iskandar Development Region in southern Johor state.
The south, north and east of the country have long been neglected as development focused on the capital Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding area.