FROM THE GROUND UP

Malaysia 2019 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

Medini City was launched in 2008 with the vision of becoming the icon of future city living and has subsequently emerged with many industry firsts.

Dr. James Tee
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. James Tee is the Managing Director and CEO of Medini Iskandar Malaysia, the master planner and master developer of Medini City, a prime urban township in Iskandar Puteri, Johor, which has a gross development value of USD20 billion. He has almost 20 years of working experience covering property development and investment, asset management, insurance and management consulting. Dr. James holds a Ph.D. in materials science and metallurgy from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the best-selling book Malaysian Real Estate Industry-Value Creation Strategies.

Could you introduce the history behind and vision underneath the Medini City master plan?

Medini City is part of the comprehensive national agenda to grow Iskandar Malaysia. There are five flagship zones in Iskandar Malaysia, and Medini City is the central business district of one of the flagship zones, Iskandar Puteri, which was declared the 14th city in Malaysia in November 2017. Almost 80% of the components in Medini City are commercial property developments, and the remainder are residential developments and pockets of public parks. One of the important elements of Medini City is job creation, which will propel economic and population growth. Medini City consists of 2,230 acres of integrated township with the vision of creating a smart, green, and sustainable development. Medini City is strategically located, five minutes away from Singapore's Tuas immigration checkpoint. Medini City was launched in 2008 with the vision of becoming the icon of future city living and, in this pursuit, has come forward with many industry firsts. Together with that, Medini City has attracted many iconic projects such as LEGOLAND Malaysia, the first LEGOLAND theme park in Asia, and many other unique offerings not only provided by Medini Iskandar Malaysia but also by more than 10 active sub-developers who own lands and co-develop different parts of this city. MIM as well Medini City's sub-developers bring up this place at a faster pace in a collaborative and strategic manner. That, in a nutshell, is the vision of MIM.

How do you encourage and incentivize investments?

Investors who come to Medini City to lease or build facilities and whose activities fall within the scope of six promoted service sectors can enjoy a 10-year income tax exemption for these qualifying activities or a five-year full investment tax allowance. These promoted service sectors are tourism, healthcare, creative, financial and global business services, logistics, and education. In addition to this tax exemption scheme, knowledge workers residing within Iskandar Malaysia and working in qualifying activities within the five flagship zones are eligible for a 15% income tax rate, and they are eligible to import or purchase certain items duty free. In terms of real estate, there is no price cap for foreigners to purchase properties in Medini City, as opposed to other areas in Malaysia. Complementing the development within Medini City are the other catalytic projects located nearby such as EduCity, where their prestigious international universities such as Reading University, Newcastle University, Southampton University and a few more have attracted both foreign and local Malaysian students to receive best-in-class education at a fraction of the cost.

What is your outlook for the year ahead?

It is not only about the hardware; the software is just as important. Two of the key elements are the culture and the lifestyle we want to create. As a master developer and planner, we bring together the communities to sustainable living through our events and activities. We have 22km of cycling paths, nature and sustainable living classes, and green markets held at the Edible Park. We want to share sustainable values, and we start from the young, which is why we engage with schools and colleges as well. Because we are a greenfield development, we have the opportunity to shape the city. The master plan was meticulously prepared more than 12 years ago, and what keeps us close to our development intent is the urban design guideline to ensure a systematic and organized development. Nevertheless, as a master developer we continue to study trends and technology advancements to adopt and adapt. We are excited to see more developments, people, and companies moving into this place. In addition to LEGOLAND, visitors to Medini City can soon enjoy Sea Life, a large aquarium, and can go to Puteri Harbor to sail their yachts. They can enjoy the parks and the greenery. We feel privileged to create and shape a city that is distinctive, sustainable, and enjoyable.