Speech by YAB Tuan Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang at AMCHAM Penang Dialogue 2016
I wish to thank the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) for organizing and inviting me to speak at the AMCHAM Penang Dialogue 2016 today. Also, the presence of many industry captains is a strong testimony that Penang remains a vital investment and reinvestment locations for many of these American Multinational companies.
On July 1st this year, Mr. Joseph Y. Yun, former Ambassador of United States to Malaysia, and I marked the US 240th Independence Day at a Gala Dinner in Penang. The recently concluded US elections which saw the election of Mr. Donald Trump as the next US President. We regret and are concerned at his anti-free trade policies.
Penang investment records
Despite the challenging global economic environment, Penang has recorded strong investment over last 8 years. For the 8 years period between 2008-2015, Penang recorded an investment of RM 55 billion, a 90% increase compared to the previous 8 years period 2000 to 2007 of RM 29 billion. Out of the RM55 billion approved investment recorded from 2008-2015, RM13.7 billion or 25% were from US investors, which makes US as the largest FDI contributor to the Penang economy. In the first eight months of 2016, USA is the third largest manufacturing FDI contributor to Penang with FDI totalling RM390.3 million.
A large portion of Foreign Direct Investments in Penang is from the United States, and this includes luminaries such as Jabil, HP, Sandisk and Flex. Boston Scientific is the latest in a series of FDIs and is the direct result of the State government’s efforts in steering Penang towards becoming a high-income and a knowledge economy. Apart from manufacturing, US MNCs are also expanding into the Global Business Services (GBS) sector in Penang.
The State government will continue to focus on good governance and clean leadership, increasing our talent pool and improving public infrastructure. We also seek convergence in the public, manufacturing and services sector to enable us to partake in the 4th Industrial Revolution of Big Data Analytics, Cloud Computing, IOT and e-commerce.
Increasing talent pool
As part of the State’s effort in retaining talents, the Penang Future Foundation awards merit based scholarships to Malaysian undergraduates in local public as well as private universities studying in designated courses identified by the industry and services sectors. Upon completion of their studies, scholars would only be required to work in Penang in any company or agencies of their choice for a period of up to 8 years.
Another program launched late year is the first ever German Dual Vocational Training Program. This skill development program, based on the world renowned German vocational training module, will see apprentices hired by and working in factories (with guidance from experienced tutors) and studying in designated centres such as PSDC. The Penang State Government is allocating RM2 mil to pay the tuition fees. Being hired by the companies, students will also receive monthly salaries. In other words students under this programme are paid to study.
We have also invested RM23 million into @CAT at Wisma Yeap Chor Ee as a platform and launch pad in bringing the tech-startup community under one roof and provide the necessary support and services to build a strong ecosystem which includes promotion and teaching of coding and makerfest. Penang has also established Penang Science Café, RM28 million Penang Tech Dome and the recently launched RM3.5 million Penang Digital Library to spur the interest of our children and to provide an avenue for them to learn science and technology in an interactive and fun manner. We encourage them in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education to establish Penang as a Centre of Excellence for science & technology.
Improving public infrastructure
It is the state government’s belief that “the business of government is not to get into business”. The state government believes that we play a much better role when we work towards building public infrastructure for the people and businesses in Penang. Whilst it is not possible to list out all of our initiatives, I wish to highlight on Penang’s flood mitigation allocation and the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
In the recently tabled Penang state budget 2017, the state government has allocated RM220 million for flood mitigation project, the largest Penang state allocation for flood mitigation. Whilst flood mitigation is under the responsibility of the Federal government, only RM150 million was approved by the Federal government, instead of the total cost of RM350 for RTB Sungai Pinang. To ensure that the Penang people and businesses is not affected by floods in the state, the RM220 million by the state will be able to provide long-term solutions to mitigate flooding caused by climate change.
The RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan which covers the Bayan Lepas LRT, Pan Island Link (PIL) and Penang South Reclamation (PSR) is the state government’s plan to address the lack of an efficient public transportation system and traffic congestion in the state. It will consist of a combination of LRT, monorail, BRT and tram and the Pan Island Link to address the strategic importance of traffic dispersal. We believe that an efficient public transport will make Penang more liveable and encourage more investments into the state.
Once again, I wish to congratulate and thank AMCHAM for organising this dialogue today. Penang is proud that we have over 40 years of industrial experience, and host to many reputable American MNCs that has chosen Penang to invest in. With the state government’s focus on good governance and clean leadership, increasing talent pool and improving public infrastructure, we are confident that Penang will remain as a destination of choice to the American investors for many more years to come.