Penang State Government 2017 Chinese New Year Message By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 26.1.2017.
In welcoming the Year of the Golden Rooster, 1.6 million Penangites take a well-deserved break with their families and loved ones, after notching up sterling successes one after another, such as being No.2 on CNN’s list of 17 best place to visit in the world by CNN in 2017, and rated No.1 by CNBC for having the best health-care in the world.
At the same time, manufacturing has maintained its prominence as one of the twin engines of Penang’s economic growth with high-quality, high-tech and capital-intensive investments. From 2008-2015, Penang attracted RM55 billion in investments, up by 90% as compared to the corresponding 8 year period, from 2000-2007 of RM29 billion.
These successes are due in part to CAT governance of competency, accountability and transparenct that has allowed Penang to record annual budget surpluses, cut down state debts by 90% and increase our reserves by 50% from 2008-2015. A case in point is our accumulated budget surplues of RM 574 million from 2008-2015 far surpasses the accumulated budget surpluses of RM373 million from 1957-2007. Clearly 8 years of Penang under Pakatan’s rule is far better than 50 years under BN.
These annual budget surpluses were achieved despite the Pakatan state government doubling development expenditure and paying out a historic sum of more than RM400 million in cash to 1.6 million Penangites, through our “golden people’s” programme to schools, senior citizens, housewifes, newly-born child, disabled, single mothers, students, taxi drivers, trishaw pullers, school bus operators, fishermen and hard-core poverty eradication. Unlike the BN Federal government that to-date, cannot even come out with a miserly RM50 million allocation for Chinese primary schools promised in 2016, the Penang state government has given out 2017 allocations to Chinese schools within 30 days of 2017!
Penang’s professional financial management has been praised not only in the annual Auditor-General’s Reports but also by Transparency International(TI). Our record annual budget surpluses were achieved in part to our open and competitive tenders that saved 30% of project costs and allowed our annual projected budget deficits to be turned into annual budget surpluses. Even Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang confirmed that corruption or malpractices cost 30% of project costs, a sum that could cost Malaysia up to RM27 billion of losses and leakages annually.
The critical success factor behind Penang’s achievements is upholding our values of celebrating diversity, excellence and service delivery. This can be seen by our emphasis on building up public infrastructure and connectivity, building up human talent as well as building up good governance and integrity in leadership. Clearly Penang is not a failed state unlike some states that preaches but cannot even pay their civils servants without borrowing from the federal government or fail to even provide housing to flood victims or worse cut down up to 100,000 hectares of forests.
Penang will continue to build on our successes by spending a historic sum of RM220 million on flood mitigation; focus on STEM teaching of science, technology engineering and maths helped by the opening of the Malaysia’s first digital library; and propose the RM27 billion on the Penang Public Transport Masterplan(still awaiting approval from the Federal government) to overcome traffic congestion.
Happy Chinese New Year!
LIM GUAN ENG