Penang State Government Chinese New Year Of The Snake Message By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 8.2.2013.
Relying On Penangites “Can Do” Spirit, Multi-racial Unity and Respect For Diversity To Overcome Challenges Such As Traffic Congestion, Affordable Housing And Building Human Talent To Realise Penang’s Aspirations of Being An International And Intelligent City.
These past 5 years have been filled with huge challenges for Penangites who took a leap of faith in an untested and unproven PR state government to chart a new future to bring about not only socio-economic justice but also prosperity, not only integrity in leadership but also good governance and not only public order but also freedom.
Despite enjoying new freedoms of speech and information as well as freedom to protest, Penang is now safer with the highest reduction in the crime index over the last 4 years. Penang has also proven that a clean CAT government(competency, accountability and transparency) can do better than a corrupt one. The yearly surplus budgets and huge reduction in state debts were achieved despite spending nearly 60% more in development funds to build more roads, more drains and more green parks.
Most important giving cash handouts of RM100 million over the last 5 years to the needy has not affected prosperity. Indeed for the first time in history Penang became the top investment location in Malaysia for 2 years running in 2010 and 2011 and the most livable city in Malaysia in 2011 and 2012. Penang is now a fairer and kinder place for the poor since the implementation of Agenda Ekonomi Saksama(AES) to become the first state in Malaysia to wipe out poverty by guaranteeing a minimum household income of RM 770 per month to all families as well as opening the first dialysis centre in Balik Pulau.
These successes were achieved through the energy, expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of Penangites. However these successes that brought in new businesses and people also raised new challenges, especially in dealing with issues of transport, public housing and building human talent. Whilst this is within the Federal government control, Penangites can not afford to follow the Federal government in doing nothing.
If the Federal government refuses to fulfill their promise to build a LRT or issue licenses for trams or buses, the state government is undertaking four separate highways including a 3rd underwater sea link between the island and the mainland to reduce traffic congestion. If the Federal government only offers to build 70 Projek Perumahan Rakyat(PPR) units in Penang, the state government will set up a RM500 million Affordable Housing Fund to build 19,172 affordable housing units.
If the Federal government ignores the brain drain, the state government will give yearly allocations to schools, attract world-class higher educational institutions and build Penang Learning Centres to provide remedial teaching to weak students. The state government will also make Penang a cultural heritage city that is clean, green safe and healthy to attract human talents. Green is not only in pro-active initiatives such as the no-plastic bag campaign but also closing down the giant Lee Rubber factory in Paya Terubong that had polluted the air for the last 20 years.
The state government will rely on Penangites multi-racial unity, respect for diversity and “can do” spirit to overcome these challenges especially traffic congestion, affordable housing and building human talent to realise Penang’s aspirations of being an international and intelligent city. Just as the poor is entitled to live with dignity, Penangites are entitled to have a hope of a brighter future where they can enjoy equal opportunities to realize their full potential and make their dreams come true.
HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!
Lim Guan Eng