Penang welcomes the Federal Government’s initiative by Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak to co-develop a Greater Penang Masterplan, which will ultimately result in a major urban conurbation in line with the Penang State Government’s vision of creating an international and intelligent city.
We look forward to a cooperative venture. In response and to prove our sincerity and commitment to the Prime Minister’s offer, the State Government is willing to set aside our completed Penang Blueprint and Industrial Masterplan for 2011-2015, in favour of the Greater Penang Masterplan.
This major effort is a sign of stable and mature Federal-State relations, and proves that political differences aside, we are able and willing to work together for the greater good of the people. For example, Penang topped the investment charts in Malaysia last year, with the highest ever recorded inflow of investments totalling RM12.2 billion. This achievement would not have been possible without the close cooperation of MIDA as well as the support of the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamad.
Penang welcomes the RM17.9 billion earmarked under the 10th Malaysia Plan but hopes that further details can be provided. Great care needs to be taken to ensure that these funds are targeted and utilised in an efficient manner. The key is to develop a holistic and integrated development approach, targeting a few critical and inter-related areas such as infrastructure, civil and social development, as well as human capital.
In order to create a viable and competitive international city, Penang requires major infrastructural enhancement, including improvements to public transportation, roads, airports, port services, internet penetration and communications. As part of our efforts, Penang is now attempting to become the first wireless state in Malaysia by providing free WiFi for all.
Next, great effort and resources must also be targeted at combating the 3Cs of crime, cleanliness and (traffic) congestion. We have already made progressive breakthroughs in these areas. Penang is now visibly cleaner, greener and safer. Last year, Penang recorded a 27% drop in crime index, the largest drop in the whole country, while anyone who has visited Penang in the last three years can attest to its newfound cleanliness. However, traffic congestion remains a major thorn. The State Government has implemented traffic alleviation programmes but a major breakthrough can only be achieved with support from the Federal Government.
The final key component to achieving the goal of a world-class intelligent city is human talent, reputed to be the new oil of the 21st century. It is human talent that will drive the success of a city and in Penang it is our policy to train, retrain, retain and attract the required human resources. Here, we have already instituted measures to cultivate this important element by establishing the Penang Science Council (PSC), an initiative that is purely driven by the private sector and aimed at inspiring innovation. The PSC aspires to serve as an incubation centre for budding innovators, research & development and scientific entrepreneurs. While training human talent is a necessary foundation for the future, we must also address the question of retaining and attracting expertise. To address the brain drain problem and also to attract regional and foreign talent, Penang must be able to provide a high quality of life. Therefore, we will endeavour to ensure that any development plan, including the Greater Penang Masterplan, must necessarily be people-centric in scope.
With all the above in place, Penang will be well-positioned to make the transformational leap to become an international and intelligent city of the future. To rocket out of the proverbial middle income trap, Penang will have to double our current GDP of RM48 billion in 2010 to RM95 billion by 2020, thereby increasing our GNI per capita from USD10,000 in 2010 to USD15,000 by 2020.
The road to developed nation status is a long race, but we believe that by a joint cooperative effort with the Federal Government, Penang can help spur Malaysia to achieve our national target of a high income economy by 2020.
As stated earlier, Penang recorded RM12.2 billion worth of capital investments in 2010, the highest in Malaysia. Of that sum, RM10.5 billion was derived from Foreign Direct Investment, making Penang’s share 36% of the entire country’s FDI total. We are already leaders in the key area of Electrical & Electronics, and we are now also paving the way in other burgeoning industries such as Bio-Medical, Renewable Energy, Aerospace and Avionics, LED Lighting, Tourism and Healthcare. In 2010, private hospitals in Penang contributed more than 60% of Malaysia’s total medical tourism receipts. Georgetown, as everyone knows, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Therefore, we are confident that with this joint collaboration with the Federal Government, and with efficient planning and targeting of resources, the Greater Penang Masterplan will result in not only a cleaner, greener and safer Penang, but also a viable and competitive international and intelligent city of the future.
A Greater Penang will ultimately mean a Greater Malaysia.