SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE AQUATIC CENTRE
AT SPICE ARENA, PENANG
Good morning and Salam Sejahtera.
I wish to congratulate SP Setia for the official opening of the Setia SPICE (which is the abbreviation for Subterranean Penang International Conference & Exhibition Centre)Aquatic Centre. Also kudos to SP Setia for successfully completing, to date, the Setia SPICE Aquatic Centre, Setia SPICE Canopy, comprising F&B retail outlets and the upgrading works of Setia SPICE Arena, formerly known as Penang International Sports Arena.
This is part of the RM350 million project undertaken by SP Setia to build a new SPICE, a 7-acre public park and upgrade existing facilities. SPICE will put Penang in the picture for a slice of the lucrative MICE market.
Since we took over the administration of Penang in 2008, we have been diligently identifying areas of improvements within the state to improve liveability and foreign direct investment into Penang. Today, I am proud to say that we have witnessed much positive changes in Penang, one of which is the rejuvenation of the former run-down PISA into a refurbished and internationally bench-marked SPICE today.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
I still remember the strong opposition by NGOs and opposition parties against this project. The state government was even sued but this was thrown out by the courts. We were asked stupid questions like “why does Penang need an exhibition or a convention center?”. I was even accused by Sin Chew of giving preferential treatment to SP Setia by selling the land at below market price even though the contract was given out by open tender and Tan Sri Liew has shown that he can win contracts internationally by open tender even in London. Despite these lies and challenges, we boldly proceeded ahead because we are clean.
And today Penang enjoys the success of our bold decision with improved and internationally bench-marked facilities in SPICE. Will the NGO's, opposition parties and Sin Chew apologise to me for their wrong allegations and lies?
Penang is a location of choice for investors. Investment has increased by almost 100% with RM48.2 billion from 2008-2014 compared to a similar period of RM24.9 billion from 2001-2007.
As Penang flourishes into an international business hub, there is a need for exhibition centres of this scale and size to cater for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) activities which the former run-down and poorly appointed PISA building was not able to provide.
With its strategic location, situated within close proximity of the Penang International Airport and surrounded by major roads with easy accessibility to the first Penang Bridge and the second bridge, the refurbishment and enhancement of PISA that was just a sports centre, now includes retail, F&B, a 4 star hotel and a MICE centre, has increased the service offerings and value tremendously.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
With the completion of the Setia SPICE Aquatic Centre, the public can enjoy a long list of facilities which includes an Olympic-sized swimming pool, diving pool, children’s water theme park, badminton courts, squash courts, gym, function rooms, cafes, even a sports clinic and swim school. With the myriad of activities made available, Penangites can look forward to a venue where they can enjoy a healthier lifestyle, all under one roof.
The aquatic centre will be complemented by a world-class convention centre, hotel, retail and F&B outlets, spread over 25-acres upon its completion. It features the Penang Indoor Stadium and Arena (PISA) which serves as an exhibition centre as well as an indoor stadium, the Setia SPICE Canopy, which was recently opened for business in December, the Setia SPICE which is the convention centre and an approximately 450-room 4 star hotel to accommodate the MICE activities.
With the continuous support from reputable developers such as S P Setia, I am confident that Penang will continue to attract quality investors for the overall benefits of Penangites.I look forward to witness continuous support from the private sector to transform Penang into an international and intelligent city and to achieve our mission to make Penang the preferred city that is clean, green, safe and healthy.
LIM GUAN ENG