WE grew up eating his father’s mee rebus, either biasa or “special”.
Zainal has since taken over Haji Wahid’s restaurant at Taman Sri Tebrau in Johor Baru. He has since added variety to his late father’s original dish such as mee rebus tulang, mee rebus udang and mee rebus ayam.
I took my boss for breakfast at Zainal’s place on Tuesday morning, Nothing has changed, I told him. Well, the taste of the mee rebus that is. But I cannot say the same for Johor.
I find that every nook and cranny of the state is changing.
Colleagues visiting Batu Pahat town enthused how the town is a happening place.
Even my boss is amazed with the state’s transformation. A colleague had picked him up from the airport and drove him into the city. He remembered several places he had gone to before but these areas have changed tremendously. “What was here before?” he asked as we drove to Iskandar Puteri.
Housing estates have replaced what used to be oil palm plantations. Who would have guessed that Iskandar Puteri-Gelang Patah was a black area back then.
My mother had said it was notorious for being communist infested. She remembered an old photograph of her uncle and another policeman, who later became my late father’s brother-in-law, with a detained communist.
In fact, that uncle resigned from the police force when he was told he was going to be transferred to Gelang Patah. “Aku dah hilang akal kalau aku pergi sana (I would have lost my mind if I agree to go there),” he had told his wife back then.
The residential housing business is booming there. It is progressing from being a communist-infested village to a fully integrated city with a world-class environment for business, living and leisure. Oh, Gelang Patah used to be famous for its otak-otak. I wonder if it still is as we are finding more and more otak-otak kempas being sold at stalls and eateries.
Kempas is another area that has benefited from Johor’s development as it is part of Iskandar Malaysia, an ambitious economic region mooted by former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi 10 years ago.
Its progress is nothing short of phenomenal as described by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was on a two-working visit to Johor early this week.
It was hardly surprising when Najib, at a press conference at the end of the visit, expressed his satisfaction with Johor’s progress under the stewardship of Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
Iskandar Malaysia alone has received RM221 billion in committed investments to date. With that, the government can expect a 10-fold returns on investments. The government had pumped in RM20 billion into Iskandar Malaysia since its formation in 2006. Iskandar Malaysia is in the third and last phase of its development.
Besides Iskandar Puteri, Najib was also in Pengerang on Monday to officiate the installation of the tallest and heaviest propylene fractionator process column for Petronas’s steam cracker facility at the national oil company’s US$27 billion Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC).
Now, Pengerang was what we termed as tempat jin bertendang but developments there are progressing well. One of the largest industrial developments in the region as well as Petronas’s largest downstream investment to date, PIC is on track for overall start-up in the first quarter of 2019. The project is 48 per cent completed. Najib said he would make frequent visits to Pengerang.
He also announced a RM5 million Federal Government allocation for the construction of a mosque there.
He also launched four new stadium projects, of which three will be in Larkin and one in Mount Austin. Now, we were told by Khaled that the prime minister had never launched anything that has yet to be up and running but high confidence in the state government’s projects undertaken by Johor Corporation and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor could probably be the reason why he did it.
He also visited Johor Baru’s hippiest place, Kilang Bateri. Impressed with what he saw there, especially since the traders there are operating without any government assistance, he announced a RM2 million grant by Khazanah Nasional for small traders. During the visit, Najib also had an audience with Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
At the end of the working visit, a senior local politician noticed that the prime minister looked happy. “He seems to be in a good mood,” another said.
He probably knows that he can bank on Johor to help the country achieve the status of a RM2 trillion economy in the next seven to eight years.