Lim: Talent and innovation are key to growth (Interview with The Edge- Part 2)

BALANCED development with optimal growth, human talent and innovation and establishing an intelligent city for Penang are the three main objectives beng pursued by the state government in its endeavour to put Penang on the international map.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng outlined these fundamentals which he says are vital for Penang to forge ahead as an international city — a habitat of choice for all.

“What is the concept of growth? Economic growth cannot be balanced and you must follow its natural growth patterns as part of a natural phenomena. You have to go along with the stream so that you can maximise growth rather than try to go upstream,” he said.

Lim added that there is a need for balanced development so that in areas which were deficient, money could be poured in so growth would be equitable. He stressed however that growth must be allowed to take its own natural pattern and trajectory.

“That is the fundamental point and any efforts to try to restrain growth would not be efficient and would not allow pareto(corrected) optimality which will have an impact on our competitiveness and productivity,” he added.

Secondly, Lim said there is a need to establish what the new “oil” of the 21st century is.

“The new oil of the 21st century will be human talents so are we doing enough to train, retrain, retain and to track new human talents?
“Of course that goes to the next aspect, (which is) what are we doing to encourage innovation or, to quote my Penang Science Council motto, ‘how to inspire innovation?”
“These are interlinked as talent breeds talent and innovation feeds innovation. Only then can we join the race to the top instead of joining the race to the bottom. And to join the race to the top, you need to have human talent,” he stressed.

Lim outlined the six disparate sources of intelligence — individual, collective, digital, institutional, integrity and environmental/sustainable intelligence which would be vital to breeding human talent.

“If you have these, then the benefits of agglomeration(corrected) caused by the advantages of networking, specialisation, will kick in and that is when the synergies take effect.

“The main advantage of cities is amalgamation — you have the networking, you have all the resources, supplies and at the same time, specialisation as everyone has choices and can specialise in a specific field. And when you specialise you can shift the curve with greater outputs and efficiencies, productivities and even new technologies from innovation,” Lim stressed.

He said the third point to consider from a macro perspective is growing cities.

“Who does this century essentially belong to? Some say it belongs to Asia, China, Europe, India. I would say that this century belongs to cities. More and more of the global population will be living in cities. In fact by 2050, some estimate that 70% to 75% of population will live in cities, big and small. So whether we like it or not, cities would be the primary source of growth.

“You must allow for building up of cities and while some say liveable cities [and] some say compact cities, I would use the word intelligent city.

“What I said earlier about balanced development but optimal growth, human talent and innovation are the keys to creating cities,” Lim added.

This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, October 4, 2010.

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