Speech by Chief Minister of Penang
At The Official Opening of ESCAPE Waterplay
16 December 2017
It is great to be here at ESCAPE again to witness another milestone of ESCAPE’s evolution. ESCAPE has added a new attraction – the Waterplay, and this second phase of the GREEN theme park development has doubled the park size from 11 acres to 22 acres, and has added more than 20 new games. The total land PBA has leased to ESCAPE is 44 acres which means there will be plenty room for even more FUN activities at ESCAPE.
ESCAPE is well on the way to creating an ultimate world-class theme park destination in the region.
I am amazed that Sim Leisure has taken the former PBA construction site of Teluk Bahang dam and transformed it into a natural playground by transplanting 104 big trees from various construction sites around the island. It also involves planting of more than 1,000 new trees of various species to create the Penang Kampong theme.
I am pleased to hear lots of good news about ESCAPE despite their low-profile approach in doing business. We are very pleased to understand ESCAPE is currently ranked the Number 1 theme park in Malaysia according to travel review site TripAdvisor. It even ranks ahead of Legoland and Sunway Lagoon. ESCAPE has also been awarded the Certificate of Excellence 4 years in a row since 2014.
Sim has said many times that it is business and political environment that the Penang State Government that took over in 2008 have spearheading changes that created the level playing field where talented Penangites like Sim can come back home and help grow Penang. And Sim is a firm believer in Penang State Government’s CAT governance of Competency, Accountability and Transparency.
While many theme parks are spending millions and millions of dollars to buy foreign brands and IPs, I am proud that we can show the world that in Penang we do not have to import brands to create great theme parks. In fact, ESCAPE is a brand that was born in Penang and we will soon see the ESCAPE brand expand into many countries soon. I have been told that Sim Leisure Group has started negotiations for a major ESCAPE project in Thailand.
Khazanah had spent more than RM700 million on Legoland Malaysia in Iskandar. The Movie Animation Parks Studios (MAPS) park in Ipoh was built with a budget of RM593 million and was opened in July this year.
To put this into perspective, ESCAPE Waterplay has been built to international standards at a budget of only RM28 million! The difference is ESCAPE focuses on how to create a great park with limited budget using Sim’s 27 years of international theme park experience. Also being a successful entrepreneur Sim thinks hard about the Return on Investment and realistic business models. So, it’s not just about money – it’s about creativity, modesty, and having a passion. Sim is an example of how you can create excellence without having to brag about how much money you have wasted!
ESCAPE is a clear example Penang State Government’s open tender policy to allow the best party to be selected based on merit and in a transparent manner.
ESCAPE has set the bar high by showing what can be achieved when the private sector is allowed to operate in a free honest and transparent manner and I call on all those involved in tourism in Penang to grasp the global mindset to join the drive for quality and excellence.