Posted: 04 Oct 2010 03:10 AM PDT
BALANCED development with optimal growth, human talent and innovation and establishing an intelligent city for Penang are the three main objectives beng pursued by the state government in its endeavour to put Penang on the international map.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng outlined these fundamentals which he says are vital for Penang to forge ahead as an international city — a habitat of choice for all.
"What is the concept of growth? Economic growth cannot be balanced and you must follow its natural growth patterns as part of a natural phenomena. You have to go along with the stream so that you can maximise growth rather than try to go upstream," he said.
"That is the fundamental point and any efforts to try to restrain growth would not be efficient and would not allow pareto(corrected) optimality which will have an impact on our competitiveness and productivity," he added.
Secondly, Lim said there is a need to establish what the new "oil" of the 21st century is.
"The new oil of the 21st century will be human talents so are we doing enough to train, retrain, retain and to track new human talents?
Lim outlined the six disparate sources of intelligence — individual, collective, digital, institutional, integrity and environmental/sustainable intelligence which would be vital to breeding human talent.
"If you have these, then the benefits of agglomeration(corrected) caused by the advantages of networking, specialisation, will kick in and that is when the synergies take effect.
"The main advantage of cities is amalgamation — you have the networking, you have all the resources, supplies and at the same time, specialisation as everyone has choices and can specialise in a specific field. And when you specialise you can shift the curve with greater outputs and efficiencies, productivities and even new technologies from innovation," Lim stressed.
He said the third point to consider from a macro perspective is growing cities.
"Who does this century essentially belong to? Some say it belongs to Asia, China, Europe, India. I would say that this century belongs to cities. More and more of the global population will be living in cities. In fact by 2050, some estimate that 70% to 75% of population will live in cities, big and small. So whether we like it or not, cities would be the primary source of growth.
"You must allow for building up of cities and while some say liveable cities [and] some say compact cities, I would use the word intelligent city.
"What I said earlier about balanced development but optimal growth, human talent and innovation are the keys to creating cities," Lim added.
This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, October 4, 2010.
Posted: 04 Oct 2010 03:07 AM PDT
In March 2008, Pakatan Rakyat was swept to power in Penang by the political tsunami of the 12th general election. For the PR state government led by DAP's secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, it was sink or swim. Today, just over 30 months later, many observers would say that the PR has come a long way.
But as Lim would tell you, the going has not been easy — he and his team of PR leaders have had their fair share of brickbats regardless of which corner they turned.
Every action or decision by the state government has come under close scrutiny. Some decisions have even prompted certain groups to take to the streets to demonstrate. Besides governing, Lim and his team have also had to deflect allegations — many of which have been racial and religious in nature — hurled at them.
The Edge Financial Daily caught up with the Chief Minister in between his busy schedule at his office at Komtar recently to talk about his expectations and plans for Penang. The following is an excerpt of the interview.
That is why people are looking at Penang. It is pointless to have the most intelligent people if the government is stupid. That's where you'll have brain drain. The government must also be as smart as the people and must not fear the best.
You mentioned previously that Penang has turned down FDI because it did not have the required talent. How successful has the state been in luring back Malaysians working overseas?
I had to refuse an investment worth billions of dollars as they wanted me to guarantee that I could provide them 1,000 engineers. I refused to do that, so they did not invest here. If I had guaranteed that and if I can't deliver, I would have ended up paying billions in compensation as we would not have been able to supply so many engineers.
No matter what the opposition says, they cannot guarantee the engineers as we are already facing a shortage of E&E engineers. I don't think there is a severe shortage elsewhere but it's acute in Penang and there must be something done about it.
As for attracting the Penang diaspora back, they are willing to look in Penang as they are now having a favourable opinion. Some have started to come but it has not reached tipping point and we have to keep improving ourselves, especially the infrastructure, good governance, good international benchmarks and settings. Then people will follow on their own accord. So I think we're moving in the right direction, transforming Penang to become an international city. That is our vision, but it is for the long term and it cannot be done overnight.
We are looking for high technology, high value-added and knowledge-intensive investments and it is not only the quantity but quality that is important. We are looking for quality investments. We have set ourselves a high target of RM4.2 billion this year but so far, we have only achieved RM1.5 billion. But we are working doubly hard to achieve our target.
With the electrical and electronics sector in Penang losing some of its shine, what do you see as the next economic sector that will drive the state's economy?
The Penang Science Council is going to set up the Penang Tech Centre which will be the bridge between maximising and optimising existing resources and moving up to the next technological level.
We have to go back to our core competencies. This is our strength and we have to utilise and specialise based on our strength. Though other industries like biotech are coming in, we will still rely on our core competencies.
Don't forget we have 40 years of experience and our supply chain management is second to none worldwide. We also have to work on tourism.
Over the last six months, tourist arrivals went up by 40%. Most importantly, we are getting our act together. We started from scratch as we had to set up the Penang Global Tourism Centre, due to lack of help from the federal agencies. I believe we need to drive people to get the machinery going and I am confident we will get there. If you get the right people and give them the right tools, and the timing is right, they will bring the right results.
What steps are being taken to put Penang back on the international tourism map?
What needs to be done to make Penang more liveable and economically dynamic so as to make it a destination of choice for investment and talent?
I would say that we still want to be the best international role model even though we are still some way off. We have in place the heritage office, we have the people there doing their job and of course we can do very much better, but we are making progress. We also have to find our own funds as federal funds have not been forthcoming. The state government will provide necessary funding wherever we can. It is going on well under these circumstances even though it could go better with funds.
The guidelines have impacted businesses negatively but on the whole, in the long run, it will be positive for Penang even though those who bought properties say they are subject to limitations and constraints and it doesn't make their properties viable because there are no returns. You must have deep pockets and those without will be left high and dry because banks won't fund you as the rate of return and gestation period is too long. But if you have deep pockets it is all right as the value of properties will rise.
What measures have been taken in the last two years to facilitate the business environment in Penang?
Hiccups continue to interrupt federal funding for Penang's development, such as the role of federal-appointed commissioners in channelling funds to Pakatan-held constituencies. What is the way forward to address this problem?
There are still some, not that many, forward-looking civil servants who know that by cutting down the funds, they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. You think by holding back Penang, Malaysia can move forward? No, Malaysia will go backwards. Don't forget we contribute one-third of Malaysia's exports and by pulling Penang back, you're pulling Malaysia backwards while other countries are forging ahead. If it still has a feudal mindset, the government's transformation programme will all be humbug. How can you expect people who cause problems of inertia to be forward-looking? Don't use the same solutions to treat new problems, just like using the same person who has failed is also insanity.
You… must keep hammering for a win-win solution, like MIDA and Mustapa (Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed) — they listen because they know it benefits Malaysia in the end. There are actually many good civil servants, not all are feudal but we must punish the bad and reward the good so you can get maximum results. If you don't, they will run riot and spoil the whole basket of apples.
What have been your biggest challenges since Pakatan Rakyat took over the state government in 2008?
What about the perception that the Barisan Nasional will not be able to regain Penang in the near future?
Penangites know we work hard and we are doing our best. They know we have the best interests of Penang and the people at heart and we are trying to create history not only in Penang but Malaysia. Finally, as I said, let Penang be a beacon of hope for democracy, freedom, excellence and performance. We have established the Speakers Square and people are coming from all over. We should feel proud as it shows our maturity and ability to discuss any issue. We have come a long way in the last two years, but I think there is so much more to do, so (much) further to go for Penang.
With the Economic Transformation Programme, how does Penang hope to benefit seeing that two of the National Key Result Areas laid down in the 10th Malaysia Plan are tourism, and electrical and electronics?
Look at tourism, Penang generates 70% of the receipts for health tourism and in terms of electronics and electrical exports, Penang accounts for 57%. One-third of the nation's exports are from Penang. These are huge numbers.
That is why the federal government should invest in areas where you have natural growth patterns so you can maximise your outputs. If you do not do that, you won't get the necessary receipts to ensure balanced development.
Whether you like it or not, the global trend is towards cities, so you must develop cities. With the George Town conurbation, our logistics hub, human talent, and very importantly, supply chain management, good governance and effective leadership are very strong points for a liveable city.
This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, October 4, 2010.
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