Technological Competence And Democratic Institutional Change Based On Talent, Technology And Tolerance Of New Ideas.(e/c)

SOCDEM Asia Conference on Lessons and Best Practices on Local Democracy and Governance in the 21st Century

Keynote address by Rt. Honourable Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang
2 December 2014 | George Town

The George Town Conurbation (GTC) consists of the highly urbanised Penang Island, Seberang Perai, Sungai Petani, Kulim and the surrounding areas (see map). With a population of 1.6 million according to the National Cencus in 2000, it was the second-largest metropolitan area in Malaysia after the Kuala Lumpur conurbation (Klang Valley), which had a population of 4.9 million. Johor Bahru had 1.5 million. The population of the GTC is now estimated at 2 million.

A conurbation is defined as “an urban area that encompasses several cities or towns physically agglomerated and forming a built-up area through population growth”.

Today, 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050. The urban population of the world has grown rapidly from 746 million in 1950 to 3.9 billion in 2014 and may approach seven billion by 2050. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs close to 90 percent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. In Malaysia, 72% of the population lives in cities and towns.

No wonder Edward Glaeser the Harvard economist announced the triumph of the cities. The city is where the best of human economic, intellectual, social and political achievements take place. It is therefore apt that the SOCDEM Asia conference this year is focused on local governance and democracy.

Everywhere around the world, cities and towns generate 80% of gross national product. As a result, managing urban areas poses the greatest development challenges of this century especially meeting the needs of growing urban populations relating to housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy and employment, as well as for basic services such as education and health care.

We are also honoured that you chose Penang and Malaysia this year as the venue of your conference. Indeed Penang strives to be a model international city where it becomes a location of choice for investors, a destination of choice for tourists and a habitat of choice for residents who desire a truly sustainable living.

How then do we achieve this?

Institution Building By Implementing CAT Governance In The Public Delivery System
Fundamentally, we hope to create a better Penang through the C.A.T principle which stands for Competency, Accountability and Transparency. This has been the state government’s philosophy of governance since 2008 and will continue to be so.

What we are aiming at is firstly, the efficient delivery of public services. Without a good public delivery system, the state collapses. Something as simple as solid waste management for example, if we cannot keep our streets clean, we can forget about being a location of choice or a habitat of choice for anyone. One of our first focuses therefore when we were first elected into office in 2008 was to make Penang Cleaner and Greener.

Our former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammed even had labeled Penang as a “garbage state” but in a short time, we managed to make Penang one of the most liveable cities not just in Malaysia but also in the Southeast Asia region. This was confirmed when ECA International Location Rating named Penang the Most Liveable City in Malaysia and 8th Most Liveable City in Asia, ahead of even the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

What caused the transformation of Penang from being the “garbage state” to the Most Liveable City in Malaysia? I strongly believed it was a new working ethics which we instilled in the civil service. We did not change a new set of civil service when we took over. What we did was to change the work ethics.

Corruption and abuse of power are not tolerated, we established the state Integrity reward with monetary prize of RM10,000 to civil servants who exposed wrongdoings within the state department. The state government also appointed professional, well-established but most importantly clean technocrats to key leadership positions in the state civil service. All public contracts by the state government are awarded through an open competitive tender system. Family members political office bearers are barred from having any business dealings with the government. Even state ministers or executive councilors, state legislators and municipal councilor are not allowed to purchase any state land. In other words, we have the same faces in the civil service but infused with a new spirit and a new sense of pride to better serve the people.

Due to a clean and more efficient state government, Penang has been recording surpluses every year since 2008 that was confirmed by the yearly Auditor-General Reports that commended us as the best financially managed government in Malaysia. Some in the Opposition has accused us of not spending money just to show a surplus, but the truth is we spent more than 90% of our budgeted expenditure each year as well as spending almost double the development expenditure of the previous government.

The savings come from open tender as well as efficient management and financial prudence. We have also increased our state reserves by more than 50% and reduced our state debts by more than 90% in the 6 years we are in power. This is Competency, Accountability and Transparency at work for the people.

Focus On Human Capital Development
Our economic policy based on pro-growth, pro-job creation and pro-poor to eradicate poverty has enabled our GDP has increased from RM46.8 billion in 2008 to RM62.6 billion in 2013. Having said that, the most valuable asset to Penang is undeniably our human capital.

Penang has been a top economic driver of Malaysia since the 70s as well as its first industrialised state. Today Penang still punches above its weight. Despite being the second smallest state we still contribute 25 % to Malaysia’s total imports and exports.

Thus human development is two-fold in Penang. Firstly, the state government realised that after over four decades of electronic manufacturing-based growth, it is time for Penang to climb up the value chain, to create more and better job opportunities for the people as well as to further drive the state economy. In the past few years, the state government has provided incentives to encourage home-grown industry through the nurturing and support of small and medium enterprises.

Through various initiatives such as the SME village offering industrial land, SME Centres that offers subsidized rentals at prime sites to start-ups and a free market advisory service to match technology and markets, we hope to build up our own technology innovators, start-ups, incubators, accelerators and entrepreneurs who are able to participate in the global economy. In addition, we are also steering a new category of investments on high-value industries such as pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical equipments manufacturing and creative animation technology.

With the creation of an RM3.3 billion IT-BPO hub announced on 1 March this year in collaboration with the federal government, Penang is expected to further boost the state economy and create over 30,000 high income jobs in the state.

Secondly we know that growth alone is not enough. Wealth and prosperity must be shared by all. This is the principle of solidarity which we all here as social democrats gathered share. Penang is the first state in Malaysia to institutionalised an annual cash transfer programmes for senior citizens, single mothers, people with disability, children, students as well as full time homemakers in the state. Since 2008, the state government have channeled more than RM287 million and have allocated another RM117 million next year(more than 12% of our annual budget) towards these social welfare programmes. We believe in building up human capital as well as providing a social protection for the vulnerable groups.

Like in many cities in Malaysia, due to rapid development, property prices in Penang have become unattainable by the low and middle income families. The old model of public housing which was partly driven by private developers is no longer sufficient. Not only it created unnecessary burdens for businesses but it also failed to fulfill the demand on public housing due to the often conflicting commercial and social objectives.

Hence, Penang became the first state in Malaysia to establish an RM500 million Affordable Housing Fund to build over 22,545 units of affordable housing throughout the state. While this will be done in collaboration with the private sector, the overall public housing strategy and planning will be driven by the state to ensure social objectives are not passed over for commercial ones. Currently, a few of these projects are already in work and are expected to be completed within the next three years. This includes the 1,320 units of social housing built on a prime land in the city-centre. We want to ensure that the poor will not be further alienated by having to live far away from centres of social and economic activities.

On the problems of poverty, Penang is also the first state in Malaysia to introduce income guarantee of RM790 a month. This means, every household in Penang will be guaranteed a monthly income exceeding that of the federal Poverty Income Line of RM760. As such, we become the first state in Malaysia to wipe out absolute poverty.

Through all these social programmes, we are able to reduce the state’s Gini Coefficient significantly from 0.419 in 2009 to 0.37 in 2012, the biggest drop in income inequality in Malaysia.

Yet, we know that these are just the first steps.

Investing In Education To Empower Future Generations
The state government understands that education is an important factor to improve the people’s lives. According to Jacob Mincer, the father of modern labour economy, income distribution is correlated to formal and informal education. Each year of formal education increases a worker’s annual salary by 5-10%, and the same also with informal education albeit at a lower rate of increase.

Although education is under the purview of the federal government, the state government also puts in an education agenda to further fulfill the needs in the local context. Local intervention in education is crucial to ensure better delivery to the people. In fact, a 2012 World Bank report stated that local decision-making authority and greater accountability are contributing factors towards better outcomes in the education system.

Since 2008, the state government has been providing annual allocations to vernacular schools, missionary schools as well as religious schools all which have previously being sidelined by the federal government especially in terms of funding. We hope to encourage a plural education system which can better equip our children to face today’s life and career challenges.

Given the context of Penang as a highly industrialised state, we must be the center of excellence for science and technology. To this purpose, the state government has also set up the Penang Science Cluster, RM25 million Penang Tech Dome to showcase our local scientific inventions and science education, the Penang Science Cafes to teach kids robotics, the Penang Learning Centre to improve the capacity in ESTEEM – Engagement, Science, Technology, Engineering, English and Mathematics. This is important as the national education system due to narrow and unnecessary political intervention has resulted in the decline in these areas, notably evident from internationally-recognised assessments such as PISA where recent reports showed Malaysia lagging behind in maths, science and reading compared to our neighbours such as Singapore and Vietnam.

The state government is also looking at setting up institutions which will offer the world-famous German vocational education system. It is hope that through these interventions in the education system, we can enable and empower our next generation to a better life.

Creating, Promoting And Expanding Democratic Space
Economy is not the only dimension of the human society. As the saying goes, man shall not live by bread alone. Thus, the Penang state government is also at the forefront of promoting democracy in this country. The federal government continues to regress through undemocratic practices such as the usage of the colonial era Sedition Act. This law has been used by the federal ruling regime to stifle alternative views and political dissents. Although the Prime Minister has promised to abolish the Sedition Act before the last general election, he has recently back-tracked on his promise succumbing to pressures by extreme-right groups to preserve the law.

In Penang, we cherish a tradition of freedom and democracy. Historically, Penang was where the first suffrage election in this country was held in 1950 when its residents elected the George Town Municipal Councillor.

Next year marked the fiftieth year of the abolishment of the local government election. The state government representing the people of Penang is pushing for the restoration of the third vote. In 2012, we have passed the Local Government Elections (Penang Island and Province Wellesley) Enactment to allow the Election Commission to conduct local government elections in Penang.

The federal controlled Election Commission however refused our request to conduct such local government elections. Hence, the state government brought the matter up to the Federal Court for a judicial review. The Federal Court however rejected the state’s application. But we have not given up. The state government will continue to pursue this matter until we are finally able to return the third vote to the people.

Democratic space is very important to us. And we want to ensure democracy is not only in words but also in deeds. Other than our campaign for local government election, here in Penang, we have not just one, but two Speakers’ Corners. I always say that while the federal government gags the freedom of speech, here, the people not only have freedom of speech, but freedom after speech.

In the same spirit, Penang together with Selangor, another Pakatan Rakyat state government, also passed the Freedom of Information Enactment to allow full access of government information to the public. This is revolutionary in the context of a federal government which continues to hide its weaknesses under the mantle of the federal Official Secrets Act.

At the local level, Penang has also adopted the first ever city complaint mobile app, the Citizens Action Technology which not only provide residents ease of making complaints on municipal issues, but it also allow for a more transparent dealing with the local governments. By allowing the people to access information and evaluate the performance of the local governments, we are ensuring that there is full accountability especially towards ratepayers.

Here in Penang, differences are celebrated not frowned upon. As I have mentioned, vernacular schools of different languages are given annual allocations. While Islam is accorded respect as the religion of the federation, other religious groups are given the freedom of worship. Penang has always been the melting pot of Malaysia, a gathering place for people from all over the country and the world. We celebrate cultural diversity here – road signs in various local languages, festivals, celebrations. Come again to Penang next year when we hold our now world-famous George Town Festival and you will experience Malaysia and the world in one city.

Gender equality is also an agenda of the state government. As early as 2011, the local governments of Penang adopted the resolution to implement gender responsive budgeting. The state also implemented various women and family friendly policy to enable women play greater role in public life including in the market place.

Successful Despite Limitations
The Penang state government seeks to create a state where Talent, Technology and Tolerance thrive. These are the ingredient towards a sustainable and successful city. It is undeniable that we are faced with a great challenge especially given the over-centralisation in Malaysia. The state government has little or no power on issues such as education, policing, public transport, and even taxations.

Our budget is more than 250 times smaller than the federal budget even though Penang contributes about 25% of the country’s export. Yet within this limitation, in the spirit of Penang Leads, Penang has shown in the past few years that not only we are resilient to challenges but we are able to emerge as one of the best-run state and city in Malaysia and in the region.

The choice for policymakers is clear, either a bloody revolution marked by chaos because the people are angry with elite politics which alienates them, or the quiet evolution of cities such as that in Penang marked by the informed and humane policy-making which seeks to promote justice, democracy and solidarity.

Two words summarise the key needs for developing growth opportunities across a number of sectors: technology and democratic institutions. Technology upgrading is a prerequisite for developing a globally-competitive industry especially creative clusters. Penang has what it takes to develop a creative cluster – Talent, Technology and tolerance of new ideas. In other words freedom to freely realize your potential and express yourself.

Democratic institutional change is one way to encourage better use of technology as well as to ensure that stakeholders not only have a say but also exercise ownership in these changes.

Thank you very much and may you have a fruitful conference.

—- Mandarin Version–

社会民主主义亚洲论坛– 21 世纪地方民主与政治之研习与良好实践
槟州首席部长林冠英于2014年12月2日在槟城乔治市依恩奥酒店发表主题演说重点:

目前世界上54%的人口是居住在城市区,并预料这数目会在2050年增至66%。全球城市人口从1950年的7亿4千600万增至 2014年的39亿人,并预料将于2050年突破70亿人口。在马来西亚, 72%的人口生活在城市区。
透过能干、公信、透明(CAT)施政方针的公众传递系统,建设制度

我们期望透过一个CAT(能干、公信、透明)施政方针,打造一个更美好的槟城。这也是自我们在2008年执政以来的执政理念。

我们首先瞄准的是公众传递系统的快捷交货。没有一个好的传递系统,一个州将会垮。打个比方,一些再简单不过的事,如固体废料的处理:若我们没办法保持街道的干净,我们根本没办法将槟城打造成任何人的首选地。我们在2008年执政后的首个目标,就是将槟城打造成一个更干净、更绿化的州属。

曾经,我们的前首相敦马哈迪把槟城标签成“垃圾州”。但是在很短的时间内,我们成功地把槟城转变成不只是马来西亚,甚至是东南亚最宜居的城市。ECA国际将槟城列为马来西亚最宜居的城市,是亚洲第8宜居的城市,排名比我国首都吉隆坡更高。

是什么让槟城可经从一个“垃圾州”转变成一个宜居城市呢?我相信这是基于我们在公众体系中灌入的新一套工作道德观。我们执政后,并没有更换整组新的工作团队,我们改变的,只是他们对工作的态度。.

贪污和滥权是绝不能被容忍的。我们创立了总奖金高达1万令吉的“廉洁奖”,奖掖那些有勇气揭发相关政府部门内贪腐行为的公务员。州政府了也委任专业及廉洁的技术人员掌管州内高职。所有州政府的工程,都是透过公开招标发给。政府长官的家属是不被允许与州政府有任何的生意往来。州行政议员、州议员及市议员是不被允许购买任何州政府地。换言之,我们在政府部门有着旧的面孔,但却注入了新的灵魂,更视能够提供人民优质服务为荣有新荣誉感。

凭着廉洁及更有效能的政府,槟州自2008年起每年皆创下财政盈余,年度总稽查司报告中也被点评为全马财务管理最优秀的州属。一些反对党声称,我们为了要展示盈余所以政府不花钱。但事实上我们比前朝政府花了双倍的钱,我们也花了财政预算中的90%年度预算。

我们是通过公开招标、有效管理及谨慎理财而达至财政盈余的目标。我们也将州储备金增加了超过50%,并在短短6年内将债务减少了超过90%。

重视人力资源发展
我们的经济政策乃建基于重视成长、制造就业机会以及消除贫穷,这让我们的国内生产总值从2008年的4千680万跃升至2013年的6千260万令吉。无疑的,人力资源是槟城最宝贵的资产。

作为全国首个工业化的州属,槟州的经济力自70年代以来,一直遥遥领先各州。直至今日,槟州的地位仍难以动摇,即便我们是全国第二小的州属,却贡献了我国出入口总额的25%。

槟州的人力资源发展共有两个重要面向:第一,从过去四十年打下的电子制造业江山转型,攀上价值链里更高的位置,以创造更多高素质的工作机会。这几年来,我们提供各式优惠予中小型企业,帮助他们成长,以搭上世界经济的列车。

除此之外,我们也进军高价值工业,诸如制药、生物科技、医疗器材以及创意动画工艺。耗资33亿令吉的“槟城资讯工艺商务流程外包中心”(IT-BPO)届时将能成为槟州经济的促进器,使槟州摆脱中等收入,迈向高收入经济模式,让槟民从中受惠。这计划预计将带来3万个高收入的就业机会。

第二,单有经济成长是不足够的,财富必须能够平均分配予全民。槟州是全国首个制度化拨款予人民的州属,受惠对象包括了乐龄人士、单亲妈妈、身心障碍者、学生、儿童以及家庭主妇等等。自2008年起,槟州政府已拨出超过2亿8700万令吉在社会福利上。

一如国内其他城市,因迅速发展,导致槟州的房地产价位上升,让中低收入家庭难以负荷。为此,州政府再次领先各州,设置5亿令吉的可负担房屋基金,以在州内建造2万2545个房屋单位。

另,在贫穷课题上,槟州保障每户家庭每月收入至少达致790令吉,比起联邦政府的760令吉还多,成为全国首个解决赤贫的州属。透过种种的努力,我们的基尼指数从2009年的0.419进步至2012年的0.37。但我们知道,我们还有很长的路要走。

投资在教育以让下一代掌握自己的前途
教育是千秋大业,是改善人民生活的关键因素。现代劳动经济之父耶谷敏瑟说,收入的分配与正规、非正规教育有关。每一年,出身正规教育的工人年薪增加5-10%, 同样的,出身非正规教育的工人年薪增长较低。

虽然教育是联邦政府的权限,州政府也把教育列入发展议程,以符合本地的需求。地方介入教育是重要的以提升人民工作素质。事实上2012年世界银行报告指出地方政府的决策及更大的责任能够产生更好的教育制度。

自2008年,州政府就一直拨款给华小、淡小、教会学校及宗教学校,这些都是在拨款方面被联邦政府边缘化的学校。我们希望提倡多源流教育制度,让我们的孩子能够面对今天生活及事业的挑战。

由于槟城是个高度工业化的州属,槟州政府也成立槟州科学集群人公司,打造价值2500万令吉的槟州科学馆以展示本地的科学研究成果,进行科学教育,在槟城科学咖啡馆教导孩子制造机器人,成立科学学习中心以改善ESTEEM能力(参与、科学、科技、工程、英文及数学)这是非常重要的,由于国民教育系统的狭隘及不必要的政治干预,这导致上述领域在国家教育中被忽略。最明显的是国际知名的PISA分析也指出我国学生的数理、阅读能力比我们的领国新加坡及越南差。

州政府也研究成立机构,进行德国式技职教育系统,希望通过这些干预,我们能够让下一代的生活更好。
创造、推广及扩大民主空间

槟州政府也是我国的民主前线。联邦政府开倒车继续打压民主比如恢复煽动法令。这条法令已经被联邦的执政党用来打压异己。虽然首相在上一届大选之前承诺废除煽动法令,可是,他最近食言,向极右势力低头,继续保存煽动法令。

在槟城,我们珍惜自由和民主的传统。历史上,槟城也是第一个在1950年进行选举投票的地方,当时的居民可以投造乔治市市议员。

明年是地方政府选举被废除的50周年。州政府代表槟城人民,要求恢复地方政府选举(槟岛及威省),允许选委会在槟城举行地方政府选举。但是选委会拒绝我们的要求,因此,州政府把此事带上联邦法院,但是也遭联邦法院拒绝。

我们没有放弃,州政府会继续追究这件事,直到我们能够把人民第三票归还。
在槟城,我们有两个演说者广场。

同样地,槟城与雪兰莪民联州政府一样,通过资讯自由法案,允许人民获得州政府的资讯。这是革命性的改革,因为联邦政府继续把它的弱点扫入官方机密法令之下。

我们也成为第一个使用手机程式的城市,市民行动科技(Citizens Action Technology)不只提供市民向地方政府投诉的管道,也让地方政府更加透明。

性别平等也是州政府的议程之一。2011年,地方政府推行性别回响预算。州政府也推行几个妇女及家庭友善计划,让妇女在公共领域扮演更重要的角色。

槟州政府希望打造拥有人才、重视科技及包容的州属。这些都是迈向可持续及成功的城市。无可否认,我们面对极大的挑战,特别是中央过度集权。州政府在教育、警察、公共交通甚至税务的权力有限、甚至没有权力。我们贡献税收25%,但是我们的预算案比联邦政府小250倍。但是我们还是领先。在过去几年,我们不只有弹性地面对挑战,我们也是全马管理最好的州属及城市。

两个字来总结各个领域发展成长机会的需要:科技及民主机构。

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