SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
GEORGE TOWN FESTIVAL 2017
8 June 2017
Salam Sejahtera and a good afternoon.
Dato' Patahiyah bt Ismail
Mayor of George Town, Penang
Dato’ Rosli bin Jaafar
General Manager, Penang Development Corporation (PDC)
Dato’ Ir. Jaseni Maidinsa
Chief Executive Office, PBA Sdn Bhd
Dr. Ang Ming Chee
General Manager George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI)
Working partners with George Town Festival and members of the media.
The George Town Festival has come at a time when fellow citizens of our country are plagued by daily news of uncertainties and troubling times ahead, including those extremist statements made by racists, who seek to divide and create disharmony amongst the people.
We need to re-focus all that toxic energy and instead talk about the way forward through the arts. When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favor of WWII, he replied, “then, what are we fighting for?” What Winston Churchill said is apt if we are to be civilized society, we must first embrace culture.
It is important at this present time to urge our fellow citizens to immerse themselves in various cultural endeavours - for not only does it soothe the soul, it educates and informs about the complex, yet fascinating nature, of humankind. Celebrating its 8th year, the George Town Festival - with its wide array of exciting and insightful events - is the perfect occasion to do so.
The Penang government has supported a number of initiatives in recent years, and George Town Festival is one that has allowed the artistic freedom and inclining growth of the embracement of arts in Penang. Over the years, George Town Festival has garnered a huge international following and consistently delivers shows reflecting the rich tapestry of the cultural world. And our beautiful heritage city of George Town has proved time and time again that it is the best canvas to host various acts of local and international stature.
The State has always been at the forefront of being recognised as a vibrant arts and cultural hub, not only in Malaysia but also Southeast Asia. It is a positive testament to the scale of tourism and the steady strewn of visitors that flock the town each year. GTF has been a fundamental factor in bringing us that reputation; both local and international visitors converging into our great city to experience a festival like no other.
The State is also proud to be supporting the progressive development of activities oriented towards empowering youth, the community and women. I have been informed by Joe Sidek that many of the programs are skewed and tailor-made to generate a strong following from these groups of people. For a start, the Macullum Theatre is an exciting project this year as it sets the mood for appreciation of cultural arts within an urban village – one of the high-density dwellings in town.
Allow me to pass the time to Joe Sidek, the Festival Director to elaborate more on the project and to announce the exciting programme line up of George Town Festival.