VASAKHI FESTIVAL 2019

Posted in Dari Meja Ketua Menteri

SPEECH BY THE HONORABLE

CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG

YAB TUAN CHOW KON YEOW

VASAKHI FESTIVAL 2019

27 APRIL 2019

I am very delighted to be with all of you for this joyous and glorious celebration – The Vasakhi Festival 2019. What started out as a small celebration by the Sikh community in Penang many years ago has now grown to be a state level event that is organized with great pomp and show.

I have been made to understand that this year marks the 19th year the State Level Vasakhi Open House is being organized.  I would like to wish the Sikh community of Penang a Happy Vasakhi. I would also like to congratulate the Persatuan Wadda Gurdwara Sahib Penang under the abled leadership of Sardar Daljit Singh and his organizing team for coming together in organizing this wonderful event, so people from all walks of life can experience the Sikh culture and way of life.

The State Government has always supported such efforts to enable the various ethnic groups to organize such events, so as to foster greater unity amongst Penangites whilst preserving and promoting the rich cultural heritage of Penang. Such events also open doors for us to learn about each other’s cultural practices and traditions which form the bedrock for a mutually respecting, cooperative, vibrant and a productive society. This is what Penang needs; a society that is accepting of each other and that is able to work in harmony with each other and most importantly remains productive in this highly competitive and challenging times.

Diversity is a great source of pride, a great source of creativity and if used as a uniting force it can transform into a source of economic prosperity. Even global corporations are deliberately trying to infuse diversity into their workforce for they see diversity as a source of creativity that can drive greater innovation. Penang must remain competitive and for that we need a highly productive and performing society. Not one that is divided by differences, intolerance and incompetence. Divisiveness in our multi cultural and multi religious nation will only tear the social fabric apart and create chaos.

It is precisely with this in mind, that the State Government in our vision Penang2030 to make Penang a Family-focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation, has adopted as one of our strategic initiatives – diversify recreation, sports, arts and culture facilities – to increase liveability to enhance the quality of life. Do take note that culture like the other mentioned areas of sports and arts loved so much by Malaysians, is an effective platform to celebrate our uniqueness and differences rather than to be made use of as a tool by the heartless to cause disunity and segregation like what’s happening elsewhere.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

Despite being a small community, the Sikhs have contributed much towards the political, social and economical development of this nation. This Vasakhi Festival is going to bring you vibrant cultural performances and there is also an exhibition section to allow people from other communities to learn about the Sikh traditions, culture and religion. Finally, the most important and fundamental part of our Malaysian culture is the food. An event is considered incomplete without food and food is the soul of a culture. So be sure to enjoy the scrumptious Punjabi food that has been prepared by the Sikh community for everyone to enjoy.

I would like once again congratulate the organizing committee and thank all of you for having me here to be part of this wonderful and colourful celebration.

A very Happy Vasakhi to all of you and have a wonderful evening to the sound of the Punjabi drum or what is referred to as the dhol and mesmerizing cultural performances.

Thank you

LAUNCHING CEREMONY FOR PARTNERSHIP OF EXABYTES AND ALIBABA.COM

Posted in Dari Meja Ketua Menteri

SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG

AT THE LAUNCHING CEREMONY FOR PARTNERSHIP

OF EXABYTES AND ALIBABA.COM

 

25 April 2019

The Light Hotel, Penang

 

Mr Chan Kee Siak

CEO and Founder, Exabytes Network

Mr Eric Zhang

Head of Operations, Alibaba.com Malaysia

Dato’ Seri Lee Kah Choon

Special Advisor to Chief Minister of Penang

Encik Mohamad Imran bin Mohamad Radzi

Assistant Director, MATRADE (Northern Region)

Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon to all distinguished guests. It gives me great pleasure to be here today to officiate the launching ceremony for the strategic channel partnership between Exabytes and Alibaba.com. 

Market access has been a barrier for SMEs to sell their products and ideas in the past decades but digitalization has revolutionized market access. I believe the collaboration between Exabytes and Alibaba.com could expose the local SMEs to tap into millions of potential customers worldwide and to discover new business opportunities. This is also in line with the state government’s initiative to encourage SME companies to adopt digitalization and Industry 4.0 in their operations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Continued digitalization is unstoppable and the digital economy would be the new growth driver for the country. The Malaysian digital economy grew at 9% per annum in value-added terms in 2010 to 2016. This was faster than Malaysia’s overall GDP growth, suggesting the role of the digital economy as a source of expansion. Moreover, study from International Data Corporation (IDC) estimated that over 21% of Malaysia's GDP will be digitalized by 2022, versus the current level of 18%. Malaysia’s digital economy, with e-commerce being one of the key components, is at its fast-growing phase. Against this backdrop, I strongly encourage SMEs and local businesses to innovate and make the most of the benefits available out there. The development of SMEs in tandem with the technology change is crucial, given that SMEs provided two thirds of total jobs in Malaysia and contributed 37% of the total GDP in 2017.

I am hopeful that this partnership between Alibaba.com and Exabytes will further encourage local SMEs to digitize their businesses and achieve bigger goals by making their business successful beyond Malaysia.

In order to achieve one of the themes in my Penang2030 vision“Upgrade the economy to raise household incomes” – pushing for digitalization in different aspects of the economy would be the main agenda.

The State Government understands that digitalization in the private sector, particularly for the SMEs, would not be able to progress smoothly without the readiness of affordable high-quality internet. I believe the recent launch by the federal government of the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP) could spur the digital economy and accelerate the development of broadband infrastructure.

Beyond that, we must be mindful that the era of 5G is coming and we cannot afford to stay stagnant and complacent with our current achievement of 97.7% of Penang area being covered with 4G connectivity. In this regard, I am pleased that the state is targeting to obtain its 5G connectivity by 2021.

Last but not least, I would like to congratulate Exabytes for its achievement. I am proud to see Exabytes being another successful Penang-based startup story. Started his venture as just a web hosting reseller, the founder of Exabytes, who is also the current CEO, managed to grow his business into a leading web hosting and cloud services provider in Southeast Asia. The appointment of Exabytes by Alibaba.com as the latter’s Channel Partner suggests that its capability is recognized by a global leading player. This has once again proved that Penang is not lacking in talents with an entrepreneurial mindset. 

With that, I once again would like to thank Exabytes and Alibaba.com for inviting me to witness this meaningful event and I wish you both a fruitful cooperation.

Thank you.

WATER SECURITY CONFERENCE

Posted in Dari Meja Ketua Menteri

SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG

YAB CHOW KON YEOW

AT WATER SECURITY CONFERENCE

25TH APRIL 2019

ST GILES WEMBLEY HOTEL

YB Tengku Zulpuri Shah Bin Raja Puji, Deputy Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources

His Excellency YB Zairil Khir Johari, Penang State Executive Councillor, Public Works, Utilities and Flood Management

His Excellency YB Ir Zamri Yusuf, Kedah State Executive Councillor for Water and Energy

Mr Vijay Padmanabhan, Director, Urban Development and Water Division, the Asian Development Bank

Ladies and gentlemen,

A very good morning to all of you attending the Water Security Conference today organised by Asian Development Bank and Penang Institute. In fact, achieving water security is imperative for Penang since we aim to become a high-income green and smart state. The state’s robust manufacturing sector is highly dependent on continuous and affordable water supply, and any disruption to that supply holds grave implications for Penang’s economy.

Chronic water shortages challenge has become the norm for urban Asia’s water management over the decades. For the case of Malaysia, we are often blessed with abundance rainfall but due to extreme weather such as prolonged drought, which leads to low fresh water supply, and prolonged rain, it causes severe flooding in the country during certain period of the year that gives us two extreme conditions to manage and plan for.

Water is indeed the key source of life, yet its value is often priced much lower than that of liquid petroleum. Like many other natural resources, the amount of water in this earth is finite. It is important to note that only 2.5% of world’s water is fresh. Although water is a renewable natural resource, but much of this resource is being locked away in various forms that is not immediately accessible or potable. Worse, out of the 1% of our freshwater which is easily accessible worldwide – river for instance; many are badly polluted hence it is not safe for life to thrive.

In the vision I have planned for Penang, the Penang2030: A Family-focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation, I imagined a state of Penang that is liveable, economically prosperous, with active civic participation and to have a resilience-built environment where no one or family is left behind. In order to achieve this, I expect the collaboration between various parties – the government, the private sector, the professionals, the academe as well as the people, to work together for both vertical and horizontal integration because in this vision, everyone is an actor and a contributor. In this sense, water plays a big role in ensuring liveability and a resilience-built environment for Penang, but it is not achievable without public participation in both the preservation and conservation of water.

Human collaboration knows no boundary, so is mother nature. A resilience-built environment requires the active participation of people in this region to work hand-in-hand in the protection of the very basic natural resource, water, in order to sustain life itself. The Ulu Muda Forest Reserve in Kedah is an important water catchment area for the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER). Around 80% of Penang’s raw water supply, 96% of Kedah’s and 50% of Perlis’ come from its Muda River. Furthermore, the Muda irrigation scheme in Kedah, which accounts for about 40% of the country’s total rice production, also relies heavily on water sourced from the same river. The Ulu Muda region is therefore a vital site for the environmental well-being of the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER).

For this very reason, it is important for us to also look into the complete water cycle in urban settings to ensure water security in urban areas are being taken care of. Where the water supply is concerned, Penang’s water supply utilities penetration is currently placed at 99%. Having the cheapest domestic water tariff in Malaysia, Penang’s non-revenue water’s percentage is also kept at the lowest in the country, being one of the most effective in the country in reducing water loss. It is probably due to the very reason that water tariff in Penang is cheap, Penang’s daily domestic water consumption per capita is the highest in the country at 276 litres in 2017, which is 67% higher than the 165 litres per capita per day recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Measures must be taken to improve the efficiency in water consumption to ensure that the potable water supply we have today can supply us beyond year 2030.

The urban water cycle will not be complete if you do not look into sanitation especially in terms of the amount of water used for sanitation system and its discharge water quality. Water being in the form of liquid is able to dissolve more substances than any other liquid on earth, which makes it most susceptible to pollution. Therefore, an effective and efficient sanitation system is essential to ensure that disposal of human excreta and sewerage will not pollute the water sources for the decline in water quality could endangers the health of human as well as the ecosystem.

Finally, to close the loop, flood risk management must be included in the urban water cycle. It has always been a challenging task because flood risk management requires a combination of both engineering and environmental science knowledge into applicable flood mitigation infrastructure. The conventional technique in flood mitigation by channelling surface water runoffs to the final discharge point, usually the river or sea, must be changed. While we are actively working on flood mitigation infrastructures, I believe that it is timely for us to look into some of the sustainable measure in solving both excessive storm water as well as lack of potable water supply, to embrace the Blue-Green ideal of reconfiguring the urban water cycle to resemble natural water cycle as much as possible.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the organisers of this conference, the Asian Development Bank and Penang Institute, for bringing together the industrial experts to share their best practices and innovation in the water industries from various countries today. With this, I wish you all a very successful meeting and fruitful deliberations.