On August 29, 2018 Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow launched his vision statement – “Penang2030: A Family-focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation” – at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel. Penang Institute has since then been appointed to collate details related to Penang2030 and to oversee the flow of information between state and citizens. This column in Penang Monthly, which will appear regularly in the future, is part of that thrilling task.
At the abovementioned launch, members of the general public were advised to direct their feedback to the state government by messaging Penang2030’s official email: email@example.com. Not surprisingly, questions, suggestions as well as comments began flooding in almost immediately. These have been, and will regularly be collated and analysed by an advisory panel, and presented to the state authorities. To be sure, Penang2030 is not meant to signal the inception of countless new projects and policies by the state. Rather, it is an ordering of ongoing projects in value terms that will deepen these and inspire new projects.
Establishment of the Women and Family Development Committee.
The key issues highlighted so far in emails from the public include the following: housing and improvement of basic infrastructure; demand for better Telco coverage; the establishment of more platforms for the general public to voice their concerns; greater partnership opportunities between the government, private sector and civil society; the status of the Penang Transport Master Plan; women empowerment, senior citizen and OKU welfare; future development in Seberang Perai; and e-sports.
While Penang2030’s success ultimately hinges on the collective efforts by various stakeholders in a bottom-up approach, the state’s Executive Committee members will play a crucial role in ensuring that efforts are aligned as much as possible with the state’s general goals. As Chow puts it, “Getting the Exco members excited over this is important. Without their support and leadership, Penang2030 will not be able to leave the drawing board.”
With that in mind, a one-and-a-half-day executive lab session with all members of the Executive Council was held on January 29-30 at the Royal Belum Rainforest Resort. The aim was for them to gain a deeper understanding of the vision and to work out future commitments. This was done through brainstorming sessions on future achievements. deciding on the indicators of success, relooking existing projects under the respective themes, and nurturing new ideas.
Another initiative is the establishment of the Women and Family Development Committee (JPWK) in all 40 state constituencies, tasked with aligning all programmes undertaken by the State Advisory Committee on Women, Family and Community Development and the Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC) with Penang2030’s goal of developing a more family-focused and inclusive state.
Earlier this year, youth representatives from higher learning institutions all over Penang gathered at Jen Hotel for the Penang Undergraduates Conference hosted by the Penang Youth Development Corporation (PYDC). Enthusiastic individuals contributed their ideas on youth empowerment and social service. Also present was the chief minister, who sought input from the future leaders of Penang and vice versa.
Penang Undergraduates Conference.
Frequent discussions between the private sector and the state are imperative to the success of Penang2030, and cogent dialogues have been held between the state government and trade associations such as the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Malaysian Dutch Business Council about their role in fulfilling the vision.
The Chief Minister’s office now has a special Penang2030 unit to organise events related to the vision. Chow has also recently announced that the official booklet on Penang2030 is to be launched in May this year.
While stimulating ideas and facilitating projects is the main thrust of Penang2030, constructing a way to monitor developments and gauge successes and failures is also deemed a vital element in achieving the goals that have been laid out. For this purpose, the Happiness in Penang (HIP) Index is being developed by Penang Institute. It is based on four stand-alone indices through which the deeper sentiments of citizens about their living conditions and the performance of the state can be gauged, and will be measured every 2-3 years. The four underlying indices are: Freedom Index; Environmental Conservation Index, Economics Index and Liveability Index (FEEL, in short).