Media statement by Chris Lee Chun Kit (State Assemblyperson, Pulau Tikus, Penang), 21 May 2021:
Penang should not be a backward state – Response to Penang Forum’s Khoo Salma and Lim Mah Hui
Penang Forum’s latest articles are replaying the same anti-development tune that underscores their intention to pressure the Penang State Government to cancel the development of the Penang South Islands.
(https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/574291 and https://www.malaymail.com/news/what-you-think/2021/05/17/selling-penang-for-a-song-and-a-dance-lim-mah-hui/1974752)
Besides the misrepresentations contained in their statement, what is more worrisome is their disregard, if not contempt, for the economic and social well-being of the Penang state.
The biggest constraint for Penang’s growth is our small land area. We are actually the state with the second smallest area in the whole country.
Expanding Penang’s industrial sector requires a lot of land mass, which the State Government has been actively seeking for new area for industrial site on the mainland. A total of nine industrial zones are now at Seberang Perai while only one on the island.
The rationale for building the Penang South Islands (PSI) is to address this problem. Without new land, the economic growth of our state will be restricted. The PSI will provide land mass to meet the demand for Penang’s social and economic needs in the upcoming 50 years.
The current economic crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted many Penangites, especially the hospitality sector. There is an urgent need to provide new jobs to sustain the state’s economy and the families in our midst.
The economic stimulant provided by the reclamation work of the PSI will cushion the impact of the crisis. Job creation should be the State Government’s priority, while simultaneously giving attention to the state’s environmental sustainability and livability.
The PSI, along with the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), are the economic recovery drivers to revive Penang, to generate jobs, to enable our people to live decently throughout the present struggling time.
This is the reason why Penang Forum is so wrong in their objection against the projects. Their reason to excuse these projects from occurring by pointing to the current pandemic is misguided. Precisely right now that we need to these initiatives to reboot our economy!
The state of Penang has come far from a backwater state to be the exemplary state that we are today. Penang has the highest export trade and is one of the highest median income states.
Perhaps some more privileged members of the Penang Forum would want a Penang that is just a museum of a glorious past, but we cannot be so selfish not to think about the future of the subsequent generations.
Without new jobs and a thriving economy, what will the future generations do? Should they be fishermen or migrant workers in other more successful states and countries?
It is the responsibility of the present State Government to provide better infrastructure and a vibrant job market for the young. Their future should not be in a backward Penang.
Chris Lee Chun Kit