A Key Meeting Between Penang Institute and World Bank


The World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Vice President Victoria Kwakwa and its Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand recently visited Penang for consultations on regional economic developments, the Malaysian economy and the role of the World Bank Group’s Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia. During a luncheon jointly organised by the World Bank and Penang Institute on December 8, 2018 at Jen Hotel, Penang Institute’s Executive Director Dato’ Dr Ooi Kee Beng briefed the guests on the historical role Penang had played in Malaysia’s industrialisation and on the island’s unique cultural dynamics.

Since May 9, 2018, Penang is no longer an opposition state and now sees its leaders placed right at the centre of Malaysian governance. The state can now take on new challenges – Industry 4.0 being one of them. Smart technologies will be emphasised to increase the productivity, efficiency and quality of its industries. Penang knows very well that it should never take things for granted, particularly in the retaining of talents.

Kwakwa after the briefing said that she found Penang2030 – which envisions Penang being a “family-focused, green and smart state that inspires the nation” – to be very impressive as it revolves around the concept of family; a vision she felt was unique.

She looks forward to supporting Penang in two interrelated ways. First, the World Bank has done a lot of work on productivity issues, including the digital economy, and this is aligned with Penang’s ambition for sustainable growth, and will therefore be able to bring its strong network to bear in helping the state.

National economic strategies are all well and good, but Kwakwa emphasised that the implementation of policies is carried out at the local level; and that is where World Bank and Penang Institute can work closely together and learn from one another. Second, urban regeneration and revitalisation is needed to maximise liveability in the city. Kwakwa reiterated that attention should be paid to issues of inequality. The World Bank has for quite some time now carried out various projects with several countries on liveability, urban regeneration and sustainable strategies. She hopes that the World Bank’s keeping Penang as part of its network connecting an array of countries will enable all involved to share experiences and solutions with one another.

The luncheon meeting was also attended by Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain (Exco for International & Domestic Trade, Consumer Affairs and Entrepreneurship), Dr Firas Raad (World Bank Country Manager for Malaysia), Dr Richard Record (World Bank Chief Economist for Malaysia), Tan Mei Ling (World Bank Country Operations Officer), Khoo Boo Lim (MAH Penang Chairman), Koay Chiew Guan (SAMENTA Penang Chairman), Lee Soo Cheran (investPenang), Michel Van Crombrugge (MICCI, Penang branch Chairman), Dato’ Dr Ooi Eng Hock (FMM Penang Chairman), Tang Ching Siang former PDC Telco CEO) and researchers from Penang Institute.

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