Speech By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng During The Penang Soroptimists Ladies Annual Dinner For Charity In The E&O Hotel In Penang on 5.11.2011.
I am pleased to be at the “Soroptimist” Penang Dinner for Charity. Soroptimist are `ladies at their best, doing their best.’ In Penang we are unique. Not only do we have many capable ladies at their best and doing their best, we are different in that our ladies’ achievements are appreciated by the men in Penang.
Because men appreciate our women, that is the reason why there are so many women holding top state government positions. Both the President of both the Penang Island Municipal Council and the Seberang Perai Municipal Council are women, creating history as the first women local government presidents in Peninsular Malaysia.
However we need the men to also come in if we want to ensure individual progress and a successful transformation of Penang as an international and intelligent city. I just want to share four points of fellowship.
One, there is no substitute for excellence and human talent. This is especially true in Penang which has no natural resources. We need to train, retrain, retain and attract human talent. Only when we choose the best, then only can we on top of the best. We must not only choose the right person but also choose them for the right job.
Two, we must stay connected with each other as Malaysians and internationally with other global citizens. It does not matter what is the colour of your skin, but the content of your character and competency that counts. You are who you are because of what you do. Only when we connect with each other as human beings and Malaysians then can we confront the challenges of the future together.
Three, we must establish integrity in leadership, corporate and non-corporate governance as well as society. Honesty as the best policy must be taught in schools and practiced by grown-ups in society. Who says that honesty does not pay?
When we took over power in Penang on 8 March 2008, we set out to prove that a clean government can out-perform a corrupt and dirty government. We have recorded a budget surplus every year for our 4 years in power, which allows us to carry out social programs and give cash aid to Penangites for the first time in history. Equally important, we have reduced our debt from RM630 million on 8 March 2008 to RM30 million at end September 2011. This RM600 million debt reduction of 95% is the largest amongst all states in Malaysian history.
Fourth, we must all stay a little foolish and idealistic. Only the idealistic and the little foolish allows society to progress because they refuse to accept the status quo but simply want to be better. Because those who are a little foolish dare to dream dreams that never were, we have seen tremendous advances in technology and social media. I admit to being little foolish, until I was imprisoned because I refused to accept the status quo of racism, injustice and endemic corruption.
The future does not belong to the faint-hearted but to those with courage and a little foolishness in pursuing their dreams. Penang offers itself as a platform that gives equal opportunity for everyone to make your dreams come true.
——- Mandarin Translation—-