SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
AT THE OPENING OF ASIA PACIFIC CONFERENCE:
LOCALISING THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGs)
25 OCTOBER 2017
A very good morning to you all, and a warm welcome to Penang to those of you who have come from far away, from neighbouring states and countries.
It is Penang’s privilege to host this event , the Asian Pacific Regional Conference on “Localising the Sustainable Development Goals - Leaving No one Behind.” This is a timely and important Conference. In discussing, agreeing and signing up to the Sustainable Development Goals, our respective countries have recognised that there are major challenges facing us together. And we can only overcome the challenges together.
The Penang State Government is happy to support the focus on local communities, local government, and local initiatives. As SDG 11 tells us: the cities will be especially important locations for action, and tapping into local resources, expertise and creativity will be essential if we are to have a chance of meeting the SDG targets and to really leave no one behind. Think global, act local!
We welcome your discussions which will help us all identify the key smart partnerships needed, involve as many people of different backgrounds, ages and experiences in the designing and delivery of initiatives and ideas. And integrate issues related to gender equality into all our processes.
The Penang State Government has also made it a priority to be future ready, to be aware of the dramatic changes which the 4th Industrial Revolution will bring. In responding appropriately to the new digital future, where 'data is king', we say 'talent is everything'. We need to train our schools to be adept at coding, including girls. The State Government has adopted a RM2 million coding programme to reach out to 118,000 primary and secondary students to expose them to the digital economy.
And when we talk about environment, as so many of the SDGs do, we are proud in Penang to have a Cleaner, Greener, Safer, Healthier, and Happier Penang. This we have done through a series of environmental initiatives to promote resource efficiency including introducing free bus routes, putting a total ban on polystyrene food containers, providing incentives to green buildings, building cycling lanes, building pocket parks, and lighting up green spaces, reclaiming and rehabilitating back lanes, and enforcing a Waste Segregation at Source policy.
And when we talk about gender, I will just say that Penang is very proud to have an innovative and ground-breaking Gender Responsive and Participatory Budgeting programme, appointing women to top government leadership positions, a strategic partnership of local Government with local community organisations facilitated through the work of PWDC. This initiative is gaining increasing regional and global recognition, as a viable model of community participation and people-oriented government.
Ladies and gentlemen,
When we first took over the state government in 2008, I stated that we can have good governance in Penang because we have good people. I have not lost faith in that commitment. But I would also say that as a government, it is our responsibility to govern in a way that allows people to participate, to contribute, to be heard and for their talents and skills to be fully realised. That is why our commitment has been to be a government which is people-centric, focused on enabling, empowering and enriching the people. We aim to enable our citizens with adequate skills and knowledge that they need. We aim to empower our people with rights, opportunities and freedom. We aim to enrich lives by securing equitable development for all. Of course, these are goals that fit squarely into the goals of the SDGs and of this Conference.
We are committed to sharing and to learning, so that we can enjoy the benefits together. Only by embracing the future, can we win the future. To do that, we must invest in education, especially female education. We are committed to increase the female labour participation rate so that we can empower them to be self-reliant and take care of their families. And help society achieve high-income economy status for only with a high female labour participation rate, can we achieve developed economy status. Remember, when we teach a man, we teach a person, when we teach a woman, we teach a family! This Conference is all about families that makes up a nation.
It remains for me to say, on behalf of the state government, that we wish you all the best for an inspiring Conference, and let us work together for a future which is sustainable, secure, inclusive and equitable.