FROM a sleepy town with a little more than a few rows of old shops to one of the most developed areas in Johor, Iskandar Puteri is perhaps the fastest-growing area in the southern region.
Iskandar Puteri is both the name of the parliamentary constituency and a modern city that is carved out of the Johor Baru district.
Prior to 2018, the urban seat was known as Gelang Patah before the redelineation exercise the same year came with the name change.
The city falls under the jurisdiction of Iskandar Puteri City Council (MBIP), which received its city status in 2017 following a steep rise in population and development.
Meanwhile, the Iskandar Puteri parliamentary constituency also includes parts of the Kulai and Johor Baru councils. The constituency has two state seats: Skudai and Kota Iskandar.
Today, Iskandar Puteri is home to an array of attractions such as Legoland Malaysia Resort (Legoland), Puteri Harbour and a number of golf resorts and hotels.
It is also part of the Iskandar Malaysia area that has contributed largely to its development from a small town to one of the most robust business and investment hubs in Johor.
On top of that, the Johor state administration centre as well as the Second Link connecting Johor and Singapore are also located in this area.
Iskandar Educity, an education hub housing international schools and universities, is located in the Iskandar Puteri area too.
Locals said that while they had been able to enjoy steady development over the years, there were concerns about the rapid population increase with many Malaysians working in Singapore opting to reside in Iskandar Puteri.
DAP has announced that its state chairman Liew Chin Tong would contest the Iskandar Puteri seat under the Pakatan Harapan coalition.
The seat was previously held by DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang who had announced earlier that he would not be contesting and would be retiring from politics.
Liew contested the Ayer Hitam seat in GE14 but lost to MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
Barisan Nasional is expected to field Datuk Jason Teoh from MCA again in Iskandar Puteri.
Teoh, who is also Iskandar Puteri MCA division chief, is a well-known figure among locals as he has been serving the constituency for years despite not being its MP.
Meanwhile, former MBIP councillor Jason Tan, who was the special officer of Dr Chong Fat Full who heads Bersatu’s associate wing during the latter’s stint as a state executive councillor, is expected to contest under the Perikatan Nasional ticket.
There are a number of issues the Iskandar Puteri electorate want to see resolved by their elected representative.
Shop assistant Nur Farah Diyanah, 20, said there was a need to increase the number of parking bays in Iskandar Puteri due to the high number of people visiting the area, especially during weekends.
“Parking is a major problem here as this place has become a popular holiday destination for tourists from Singapore, especially due to its close proximity to Legoland and other local attractions.
“There are also people working in Singapore who park their vehicles here and only remove them several hours or even days later. This has made the problem worse,” she said.
Retiree Mahinder Singh Jaginder Singh, 68, said there was an urgent need to increase the number of government medical facilities in the area to cope with the rise in population.
“Iskandar Puteri is located very close to Singapore. Many working in the island republic make Gelang Patah their home as it is easier for them to commute to work daily from here.
“Despite the hike in population, there have not been many improvements in terms of basic facilities such as public hospitals and clinics.
“This has become a major issue as people need to wait for hours to get treatment at existing medical facilities,” he added.
Mahinder said a public library should also be made available for the people, especially children.
“It is unfortunate that there is not a single library here. It is an essential facility for children and youths to develop the reading habit,” he said.
Businessman Jason Chin, 42, said he moved to Iskandar Puteri about 17 years ago because he thought the place had great potential for growth.
“I think our close proximity to Singapore has helped to push for further development.
“My business has improved after the border reopened and is now almost on par with how sales was pre-Covid-19.
“While we have benefitted from the growth here, I hope environmental concerns are not neglected.
“I hope that whoever is elected as the MP for this area will take environmental issues seriously,” he said.
Some 222,337 voters are expected to cast their votes for Iskandar Puteri for GE15.