Objective: The Dialogue will bring together governors and mayors from the ten ASEAN countries and China to discuss ways of promoting pragmatic cooperation through exchanges at the local level The Dialogue theme is “Local Cooperation: Driving Force to Build a Community of Common Destiny”
First, let me commend the organiser of “Boao Forum for Asia” for gathering the distinguished governors, mayors and leaders from ASEAN and China, bent on creating synergies through mutual partnership and local cooperation.
Penang, often known as “the Pearl of the Orient”, has a long history and relationship to China and the region. Since the British first colonised the island in 1786, Penang had played the role of global trading hub in spices, tin and rubber. The importance of Penang and China is highlighted by 3 historical events.
One, many Chinese migrated to Penang and Penang now has the largest number of ethnic Chinese in Malaysia. Secondly, prominent Chinese considered Penang a natural shelter and center for excellence. Examples of Chinese heroes included Sun Yat Sen who lived two years in Penang and the famous plague fighter, Dr Wu Lien Teh, born in Penang, and saved millions of Chinese lives in Harbin by finding a cure.
Three, the Chinese in Penang adopted an international approach for the cosmopolitan city of Penang. Penang is the melting pot for different communities living in harmony despite the diverse cultures and religion. George Town in Penang is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage City and also famed for having the best street food in the world. We are the top five choice for retires in the world.
Today, Penang is one of the global hubs in the electronics and electrical manufacturing and plays host to over 300 multinational companies. Penang is an industrialised state dependent on manufacturing and services. Penang is a favoured location of choice for foreign investment, contributing about one third of Malaysia’s trade surplus and one quarter of Malaysia’s total imports and exports. Penang is an open economy and China is our top trading partner.
Penang envisages itself as an international and intelligent city that is the location of choice for investors, tourists and businesses. To achieve that, we must have a livable city that is clean, green, safe and healthy; have world class infrastructure; clean and good governance as well as high quality education institutions. One advantage for Penang is that you are only 10 minutes drive away from the beach or the hills.
Penang is a top tourist destination because it is inclusive and friendly to foreigners who enjoy our world class infrastructure. We have an international seaport, airport and broadband internet; and even free wifi in public places. Many people in Penang are multi-lingual. Penang possesses the 3Ts of talent, technology and tolerance of new ideas to establish creative and innovation clusters.
By the end of this year, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will provide immense opportunities with a market of 620 million people and by the end of 2015 will lead to a single market with GDP of more than USD 2 trillion . We hope to make Penang as the gateway for Chinese businesses to expand and reach one part of ASEAN. Penang is at the door step of Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country as well as near to countries like Thailand and Myanmar.
Ladies and gentlemen, Penang believes in convergence of the manufacturing, services and public sector as well as forging public private partnerships to move forward. We welcome you to a mutually beneficial win-win formula as the basis of a most productive partnership. See you in Penang. Thank you.
LIM GUAN ENG