SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
AT THE OPENING OF THE 44TH ARTDO WORLD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
ON LEADERSHIP & TALENT DEVELOPMENT
13th October, 2017 on Friday (8AM)
E&O Hotel, Penang
Allow me first to extend a very warm welcome to all of you to this lovely island of Penang. I am pleased that ARTDO International, an organisation dedicated to developing human resources, promoting corporate leadership, nurturing and retaining talent, has chosen Penang for its annual conference this year. Your choice is indeed apt. Apart from its excellent infrastructure and conducive learning environment, Penang offers an excellent case study for successful talent and skills development.
The 44th ARTDO International Conference
I understand that the theme for this year’s ARTDO International Leadership and Talent Development Conference is “Transforming Leaders and Talents for a Better World”. Given the many challenges that business entities face, such as rapid technological advancements, changing labour hiring practices, and enhanced competition in markets for goods and skilled labour, corporate leaders need to continuously adapt, reform and transform their business corporations in order to stay ahead of the pack.
They need in particular to develop and strengthen capacity in nurturing and retaining talents that can spearhead their businesses’ innovative and creative capabilities, so essential for staying on and even pushing the production possibility frontier outwards. Talent development is and has always been a key factor in high performing organisations.
Relevant to Penang
I also find what you all plan to deliberate later today and over the next couple of days to be particularly relevant to Penang. Here is a state that is resource scarce, yet is able to transform its economy structurally to attain full employment and to be among the fastest growing in the country. Our per capita Gross Regional Product is also among the highest among all the states in the country.
We are also proud that Penang hosts the No.1 & No.2 single largest exporter in Malaysia, with Avago contributing RM20 billion of exports annually in 2017 or 2.3% of Malaysia's total exports and Broadcom contributing RM70 billion by 2018. Broadcom alone will contribute 8% of Malaysia total annual exports. The value of exports for Penang in Q1 2017 is RM52.9 billion an increase of 22% y-o-y compared to RM43.5 billion, largely contributed by E&E exports. Penang’s export contribution to the total national export is 23.5% and is expected to exceed 30% next year.
Good governance described as Competent, Accountable and Transparent (CAT) governance, clean leadership and the practice of open tenders in the award of contracts allows us to curb corruption and our ability, within the constraints faced, to continuously develop and upgrade our skilled workforce. Corruption-free good governance is reflected by our sterling financial performance. Penang has recorded annual surpluses since 2008, we have also doubled our asset reserves to RM1.8 billion and remarkably reduced our state debts by 90%! We have the lowest debts in the country at RM65 million as compared to the debt champion Pahang with RM3.1 billion, Sabah (RM2.8 billion), Kedah (RM2.7 billion), Sarawak (RM2.5 billion) and Kelantan (RM1.4 billion). If there is a gold medal for overall financial performance by a state, Penang would definitely have clinched it! This success in skills development has been achieved largely through our success in institution building and in harnessing collaboration between the different stakeholders.
For example, we have the Penang Skills Development Corporation (PSDC), the leading skills training centre in the country, where the State Government, industry and university are partners in designing and imparting skills that are relevant to the needs of industry. We have also set up the Penang Future Foundation, which has as its objective the granting of scholarships to young talented students from Penang. The condition is these scholarship recipients must return to work and live in Penang for 8 years upon completing their tertiary education.
Making Penang a livable city that is cleaner, greener, safer and healthier as well as being an international and intelligent city helps to attract young talents to choose Penang as their home. We are the 8th most livable city in Asia and most livable city in Malaysia according to ECA International. We intend to be better with world – class tourist attraction, bicycle lanes and a centre for art and culture.
However, our effort here is constrained by the larger socio-political environment which is determined by the social, economic and political policies of the Federal Government. To cultivate an interest in science and technology among our young, we have embarked scientific initiatives upon an initiative with industry to launch exciting and interesting science –based programmes. The State Government has spent RM68 million in STEM – related teaching facilities.
Skills shortage still a problem
Despite our progress in developing skills and talents, skills shortages remain a problem faced by the state economy. Over the years, Penang has moved from low value-added, high volume and low skilled manufacturing to high skilled, high value-added and knowledge-intensive manufacturing and services. To succeed in such a move along this value-added chain, we need a huge pool of skilled workers in design engineering and research and development (R&D).
In a way Penang is a victim of our own success. Penang is an industrial state with 95% of our GDP contributed by both the manufacturing and services sector has seen tremendous growth since 2008. Penang has recorded strong investment in manufacturing sector over last 9 years. For the 9-year period between 2008-2016, Penang recorded an investment of RM 59 billion, a 73% increase compared to the previous 9 years period between 1999 to 2007 of RM 34 billion. Penang has recorded employment growth of 15% from 121,511 jobs for the period from 1999 to 2007 to 139,133 jobs over the same period from 2008 to 2016.
Penang has also recorded a growth of 14.8% in medical tourists from 302,000 in 2015 to 347,000 in 2016. This has resulted in one of the lowest unemployment rate in Malaysia of 1.6%.
Bringing in highly skilled professionals and talents from overseas can be used as a temporary measure to overcome the skills shortages. This again is not within our ambit as both labour and immigration policies are under the control of the Federal Government.
Overall, continued human capital development is still of paramount importance in moving Penang along the trajectory towards a high income state. The State Government is committed to this development and is hence prepared to listen to constructive views on how to realise the goals of developing a huge pool of skills, nurturing talents and retaining them.
I would like to wish your conference every success and do hope that all of you, especially those of you from overseas, will have a very productive and enjoyable stay in Penang especially the UNESCO World Heritage City of George Town and the best street food in the world! I now have great pleasure in officially declaring open the 44th ARTDO International Conference on Leadership and Talent Development open.