Excerpt from speech on Tiger Park Issue

The Penang State Government of Penang is a C.A.T. government – adhering to the principles of Competency, Accountability and Transparency. We believe that a clean government applying CAT principles can provide good governance that generates prosperity that can be shared equitably.

The Penang government is a CAT government. Lions are big cats with a wide reputation for courage. But success is not determined alone by courage but also by another four characteristics of righteousness, effort, ability and with a little luck. These are the five characteristics of success. Whilst the first four are up to the individual, the Penang state government hopes to give everyone a little bit of luck by offering equal opportunities in economics, employment education, social and political.

This can be seen by our Penang wireless initiative where we want to be the first wifi state in Malaysian in two years time – where you can be connected to the internet anytime anyplace anywhere in Penang. And this wifi is offered free to all in Penang bridging the digital divide between the rich and the poor the urban and the kampong areas. Even in Seberang Jaya you can now enjoy free wifi access at Sunway Carnival – a promise of more to come.

We also wish to maximize our natural scenic spots not to do construction projects but to develop sustainable eco tourism. When I see two tigers at Bukit Jambul, reared in captivity under license from Malaysian authorities,locked in a cage, I feel that we should give them more space. That is why the Penang state government is proposing a Tiger Park as tigers are magnificent animals and should not be caged. I have been caged before and I know what it is like to be caged.

First I wish to emphasise that this proposal is still in the conceptual stage based on certain pre-conditions for deliberation.

One, this ia a PPP – public private partnership ie. the state government is only offering land in exchange for the private investor to provide both the operational and infrastructure costs. The state government will not be spending any money but expects to get revenue from this lease and also make more productive use of the present reserved recreational land to prevent illegal land use, especially illegal farming.

Two, the tigers must be obtained legally approved by the relevant national departments and conform to wildlife conservation efforts and benchmarks. The tigers must be given protection Whilst we note the views of those who call for banning of zoos, we are willing to appoint noted conservation groups to advise and monitor these efforts.

Thirdly, the park must be self-contained and safe to ensure that the tigers do not escape and harm human residents.

No doubt a project of such high public interest will have both detractors and advocates as evidenced from the feedback we have received so far. Be assured that the final decision will be in the best interests of Penangites, and the well-being of the tigers!

(Speech during 10th Chartered Anniversary Gala Celebration of Lions Club of Bagan)

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