6th Political Tsunami Anniversary Message by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng in Komtar, George Town on 7.3.2014.
As we celebrate the political tsunami of 8 March 2008 that ushered in a new era of democratic politics by establishing a two-coalition system in Malaysia, where a change of government is not an imagined possibility but a likely probability, we must not forget that the PR state government’s policies must give priority both to the rakyat and also towards winning the future.
Penang can only win the future for our children by investing in public infrastructure, building human talent, sustainable policies, reducing inequality, good and clean governance. For that reason, Government must also invest and innovate. The government must invest in infrastructure, people, incentives and subsidies.
The government must also innovate with new policies that stresses on:-
• liberalisation of the existing rules and to reduce red-tape,
• divestment from non-core businesses or accept that the “business of government is to stay out of business”,
• permit free and fair competition; and
• encourage human capital formation where human talent is now the new oil of the global economy.
The state government has embarked on building roads, bridges, drainage and even green parks both on the island and on the mainland to ensure balanced development. Physical public infrastructure is now extended to include free wifi hotspots where Penang is the first state in Malaysia to provide 1,550 free wifi hotspots in public places throughout the state. The number of free wifi hotspots will double over the next 4 years.
Investing in education and building human talent is crucial not because human talent is the new oil of the 21st century but also because Penang has no other natural resources. At the same time, policies must be sustainable to ensure that resources we use today are still available tomorrow. As the only state to impose a no free plastic bag rulings and car free Sundays, Penang records the highest recycling rate of 26% in the country. At the same time Penang is fortunate not to suffer from water rationing because of efficient water supply management.
Penang’s economic successes of attracting foreign investment and tourism have been facilitated by integrity in leadership that targets zero tolerance to corruption and good governance that enables Penang to be a most livable city in Malaysia that is clean, green, safe and healthy. However economic growth is meaningless if inequality widens. Building affordable housing, cash aid and becoming the first state in Malaysia to wipe out poverty in Penang with cash handouts demonstrates PR’s commitment towards a people-centric government.
These successes can only be sustained with a budget-based administration that deals with leakages such as corruption and wastages, and also an outcome-based administration that focuses on projects bringing positive impact to the people. Ensuring that money spent is not wasted, together with making a positive difference in the lives of the rakyat offers hope for the rakyat to live with dignity.
Penang is much changed during these last 6 years. It is not just the new RM 4.5 billion Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge or the refurbished RM250 million Penang International Airport by the Federal government. What counts as well is that Penang is cleaner, greener, safer and healthier. Let Penang be one of the game-changers that can change Malaysia for the better.
LIM GUAN ENG