Speech at EU-Penang Day

Speech by YAB Tuan Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang at EU-Penang Day Luncheon-G Hotel at 12.30 pm on 20 November 2013

This year marks the 3rd year in the row the EU-Penang Day is celebrated in Penang. I wish to thank the EU delegation for continuing the tradition of forging better ties and cooperation with Penang through EU-Penang Day.Today, we have the presence of representatives of 16 nations of the European Union through their various Ambassadors and representatives.

This annual function is indeed the best opportunity to promote people to people link between Malaysia and member nations of the EU. The European Union has 27 nations and a total population of 500 million people.

It is important that the Humanity or World Community including EU and Penang to instil the three practices in its public administration.

1. The Courage ToBreak Racial Stereotypes and Facilitate Inter-faith Dialogue.
2. Public Service for Community by improving their lives and the value of citizenship for an individual by asking not what the country can do for you but what you can do for the country.

3. To Reduce Inequality as if we cannot help the many who are poor, we cannot save the few who are rich and to allow us to live with dignity in accordance with the United Nation Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Malaysia is the EU’s second most important trading partner in ASEAN, after Singapore. No bilateral preferential trade arrangements exist between Malaysia and the EU, but under the new Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), in force since January 2006, the share of Malaysia’s merchandise exports to the EU eligible for preferential treatment rose from 16% to 81%. Over 70% of Malaysia’s exports to the EU now enter duty-free. Malaysia records a trade surplus with most EU Member States.

Penang has earned itself a new nickname – the Silicone Valley of Malaysia, due to nearly all the large semi-conductor, electronics & electrical factories from the USA, Europe & Japan which catalyzed the growth of the manufacturing industry in Penang.

We have the top manufacturing companies like Intel, Bose, Honeywell and Motorola, medical devices like B Braun and St. Jude Medical, and in the services sector Wilmar, IHS, Air Asia& Citigroup. Practically all the branded names in the manufacturing sector are in Penang. Penang contributes 25% of Malaysia’s imports and exports. Today, the manufacturing industry contributes to 50% of the GDP of Penang. While we still endeavor to improve in the manufacturing sector, our bigger focus is to grow the tourism sector and service sector even more.

“Tourism” is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. According to UNWTO, in 2012 over 1 billion tourists travelled the world; generating a total of over US$ 1 trillion in earnings for the countries they visited. ASEAN attracted more than 74.8 million visitors last year, posting a strong 10.14 per cent growth. Out of 25 Million tourist arrivals to Malaysia last year, Penang received 6.09 million tourists, making us the top 3 state in Malaysia with the highest tourist arrivals.

Since George Town was accorded UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage City, we have seen a tremendous rise in the tourist arrivals in Penang. For the last 2 years, hotels in Penang are experiencing close to 100% occupancy rates; especially during festive occasions and school holidays. We can also see hotels, especially boutique heritage hotels mushrooming all over Penang, especially George Town.

We have also the No.1 street art mural in the world ` Siblings on a bicycle’. No wonder Yahoo! Travel listed Penang as one of the 10 islands in the world that you must explore before you die. There is a renewed spirit of pride among the locals, who are keen to share with the world how special Penang is.

Currently the attractions in Penang such as Street Art, George Town Festival, Penang Bridge Marathon, Penang World Music Festival and the Escape Theme Park has garnered international attention. The Penang Bridge Run which was held on November 17 had seen a recorded participants of 47,000 from local and abroad.

As the appreciation of George Town now draws more visitors, the locals too rise to reclaim the city. All of this has generated a palpable buzz, which in turn draws even more visitors. Therefore, the State government has set up its own agencies to address not only tourism but also heritage and green initiatives.

Penang is the first state to prioritize green growth in order to maintain a robust green economy for the state, and to secure the state’s international competitiveness in manufacturing, tourism, services and building sectors. Penang is one of the top three governments that have the most projects registered and certified by GBI.

The state government and the local governments are studying the possibilities of making compulsory for all new developments in the city to be in compliance with GBI.

As at 8 October 2013, there are 38 Penang based projects registered with GBI, which is about 8% of the national total.Out of these 38 registered projects, 16 projects have received GBI certification, and the remaining 22 are pending submission of their design to GBI. The 16 projects represent 11% of the total projects certified by GBI nationwide.

I am told that GBI is recognized by the World Green Building Council, GBI has certified more than 70 million square feet of Gross Floor Area of buildings in Malaysia. More than 5.4 million square feet or 8%, came from projects based in Penang. To achieve 70 million square feet of Gross Floor Area in four years is indeed a clear sign that GBI is widely accepted by the industry. Penang State Government is serious about making Penang the No. 1 in Malaysia in creating a cleaner, greener, safer and healthier state.

Finally to improve the quality of our workforce requires us to improve the quality of our educational institutions. Penang has managed to attract world-class universities. The Asian Women Leadership University (AWLU) driven by the No.1 women university in the US, Smith College, and the United Kingdom’s Hull University together with the local KDU University have committed to Penang offering liberal arts courses, engineering, accounting, business studies, logistics and law.

I was informed that in thisafternoon, representatives of the EU nation will visit the George Town’s Heritage Trail and the lively living heritage in town. Finally, the evening will not be complete without the launching of the European Film Festival at GSC Gurney. Let us understand each other through art and films which requires no language but serves to remind us all despite our different faces, we come from one race – the human race.

I hope all the delegates will enjoy their trip to Penang and I wish to take this opportunity to once again thank the organizers of the EU-Penang Day especially the EU Embassy, Penang Institute, Penang Global Tourismand investPenang for jointly organizing the successful and memorable event today.

Thank You.

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