The “never say die” spirit of the Penang people will let us bounce back from setbacks to allow Penang to be on course to be a developed economy and the first green state in Malaysia in 5 years. This spirit is evident from the worst natural disaster in history on 4-5 November 2017, when a heavy rainstorm lashed Penang with 40 mph winds that lifted a ferry up from the sea and pushed it inland, and 372 mm or one and a half months of rain fell in a mere 15 hours.
In only 10 days, Penang bounced back and was cleaned up. Yesterday the Penang Hill train resumed service after being out for 51 days because of the rainstorm that caused 194 landslides and cut off roads to the Hill. Taking only 51 days to repair is a remarkable success, when many had expected the repair works to take 12-18 months.
The quality of Penang talent is evident amongst the private sector that has transformed Penang into a global world-class cluster for manufacturing, especially electronics and medical devices industry. This is evident when Penang came out tops in Malaysia in manufacturing investment for the first 6 months of 2017, with RM7.7 billion whilst Kelantan came out last with RM4.2 million.
However the quality of Penang talent now extends to the civil service. 10 years of CAT governance of competency, accountability and transparency have the desired effect of turning Penang into a cleaner, greener, healthier and safer state. CAT governance has also improved our financial health with annual budget surpluses, doubling of asset reserves and reduction of our state debts by a record 90%. The UNESCO World Heritage city of George Town is recognised as one of the best in Asia under our management to preserve, protect and promote our heritage sites.
These successes have attracted global attention until they have head-hunted and taken our Penang City Council Mayor Dato Maimunah bt Mohd Sharif to be the new Executive Director of the UN Habitat organisation. Dato Maimunah is the first Asian and woman to head the UN Habitat, a major achievement that has brought pride not only to Penang but also to Malaysia.
There are always greater challenges awaiting us just as they are only higher mountains to climb. However, if Penangites persevere and adopt the attitude of “when the going gets tough, the tough will always get going”, we will not only overcome the challenges but can scale greater heights to be the habitat of choice for those desiring sustainable living, destination of choice for tourists and location of choice for investors.
LIM GUAN ENG