Speech by Chief Minister of Penang
AT MOU Signing Ceremony Between Sim Leisure Group & Fei Country Wonderstone Town Development Co. Ltd.
For Escape Theme Park Development in Linyi, China
1st September 2018, 2.30p.m.
YB Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik,
Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture; and Member of Parliament of Balik Pulau
Mr Sun Bowen,
Executive Director of Fei County Development Company Ltd.
Mr Sim Choo Kheng,
Founder and CEO of Sim Leisure Group
Our foreign guests from China and Singapore, members of the media and friends.
I am honoured to receive the invitation to witness the signing of an MOU between Sim Leisure Group and Fei County Development. This MOU will see the construction on an ESCAPE Theme Park in Linyi, Shandong Province, China. Congratulations to ESCAPE for its achievement.
I am proud our Penang-born brand and IP is making its debut into the international Theme Park industry. Having won many tourism awards since its inception, today’s announcement comes therefore as no surprise.
Congratulations to Fei Country Development for the launch of your tourism township development project in Linyi, China. I am sure ESCAPE will be a success in drawing many tourists to your incredible development.
Penang State Government has always been supportive of private initiatives like ESCAPE. In 2009, as part of our Tourism Masterplan, we released a public tender seeking innovative submissions to turn this former construction site of theTeluk Bahang Dam into a major tourism destination. Based on merit and the innovation we sought, Sim Leisure won that open tender and ESCAPE was born.
In 2010, before the construction of ESCAPE Park, there were some NGOs calling for the project to be scrapped. Apparently, they were concerned about the potential negative environmental impact ESCAPE may cause to the area. I wish those NGOs are here today to see ESCAPE Park for themselves. This project is probably the greenest project the State has ever had.
Right here where we are, I was told, it used to be the kitchen for the Chinese engineers and workers who built the Teluk Bahang Dam. This building had been repurposed from a canteen into a conference room. All done without creating a new carbon footprint. Its roof is planted with grass to reduce surface rainwater run-off, as well as to reduce energy needed to cool the building.
ESCAPE is a fine example that not all developments are destructive. NGOs must not be narrow minded or stereotype or associate all developments with destruction or disasters to the community. As long as it brings benefit to the people in an overall sense, there can be no reason why they should not proceed. Saying no, for the sake of objecting to changes can, at times, be selfish.
The decision of Government cannot be only for the interest of certain “minority” groups. It must benefit the people we represent. By now you’d probably know what I am referring to. I am aware there are more often than not, 2 sides to a story, but as the head of the state government I have a mandate from the people. I ought to decide what will bring benefit to the people of Penang in the long run.
If we had not been firm with our stance back then, we would have missed the opportunity for the local community for the creation of jobs and business spin-offs of the hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting ESCAPE in Teluk Bahang. I also know that ESCAPE helps to fill some of the hotel rooms along the Batu Ferringhi stretch.
Finally, on this very special occasion of this MOU signing, I am proud that this ‘born in Penang’ brand that is ESCAPE, will make Penang famous in China.