The past few months have seen efforts to transform Penang into a more family-focused green and smart state grow more distinct.
- Case in point: the DoctorOnCall initiative – an online clinical service set up to provide certified doctor consultations and medication delivery service to treat common illnesses such as coughs, colds and fevers – is an initiative aligned with Penang2030’s theme, of “increasing liveability to enhance quality of life”. The portal allows customers to interact with doctors through video calls, voice calls or even text messages. With the promotional code “Penang2030”, citizens in the B40 range are able to access free healthcare consultation and low-cost medication.1
- The state also took a step forward in its quest to stop single-use plastic. Starting from July 1, there will no longer be plastic bags for shoppers on Mondays even if they are willing to pay the 20 sen it costs per bag. According to state executive councillor for Welfare, Caring Society and the Environment, Phee Boon Poh, operators of fixed premises – hypermarkets, pharmacies, and convenience and department stores – are encouraged to stop giving out plastic bags to shoppers. He says that the initiative will be on a voluntary basis. The money collected by the state since the “No Free Plastic Bag” move was introduced in 2009 totalled RM8.9mil.2
- Digital Penang, one of the four Foundational Projects of Penang2030, aims to coordinate and facilitate the digital transformation of Penang; and contribute towards a supportive environment for the pervasive use of digital technologies across the board.3 A decision has been made by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow where it will be proposed in the upcoming state assembly in November, following studies done of policy paths on this subject taken in Britain, in Singapore and in Sarawak. The studies were led by Zairil Khir Johari, Penang’s executive councillor for Public Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation, aided by researchers from Penang Institute and members of the civil service. A company is being put together to begin work on digital transformation issues, which will then transit to become Digital Penang later in the year, state assembly willing.
- Penang Institute is kick-starting a webpage dedicated to vital Penang statistics. Visualisation tools are used to illustratelong-term trends and patterns in an easily comprehensible form with hopes that it will inspire users to communicate with the data in effective and cogent ways. Each visual is accompanied by a short analysis often highlighting key trends and outliers in the statistics. What’s more, the graphics are also available for download in the form of spreadsheets, images, PDFs or as PowerPoint presentations to enable its maximum potential. The page mainly caters to statistical data that are socioeconomic in nature. Currently, five indicators are up, namely Gross Domestic Product, Labour Force, Graduate Employability, External Trade and State Finance; while the other half – Populations Demographics, Manufacturing Investment, Residential Property, Health, and Household Income/Household Consumption – is expected to be ready sometime this month. The webpage can be accessed at Penang Institute’s website, www.penanginstitute.org, under the Resources tab.
- Other news aligned with Penang2030, just to name a few, are as follows: Penang Green Council’s “Bring Your Own Bag” initiative and the hosting of the “Penang Green and Smart City” international conference at Gurney Paragon this September; Penang’s first Connectivity Master Plan meeting with CEOs of telecommunication companies to become the nation’s first gigabyte city; introduction of the nation’s first Gender Inclusiveness Policy which sets a 40:40:20 ratio (40% male, 40% female, 20% male or female) as a new benchmark for decision-making positions in every state agency and department in an effort to put women on par with or equal to men (incidentally, Penang Institute has recently adopted this principle at its Board of Directors level); and the formation of a business partnership between top cloud service provider in South-east Asia, Exabytes Network, and leading wholesale mobile marketplace for global trade Alibaba.com.
- Earlier in April, the English version of the Penang2030 guide, an evolving document which serves as easy reference for all to participate in policy-thinking, was launched by Chow. To cater to Malay readers, the guide underwent a laborious translation process by the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka and is expected to be published sometime in July. The Malay language version will be made accessible at www.penang2030.com along with its English counterpart. In addition, Chow, in an interview with the New Straits Times, mentioned that 12 officers have been identified by the state secretary to be in charge of the 12 strategic initiatives in the vision respectively.
Readers are encouraged to leave their feedback at www.penang2030.com.
1https://www.buletinmutiara.com/kod-promosi-penang2030-konsultasi-klinik-atas-talian-doctoroncall-percuma/ 2https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/06/08/zero-plastic-bag-day-on-mondays-in-penang-from-july-1/ 3https://www.penang2030.com/files/The%20Penang2030%20Guide_First%20Edition%202019_eBook_.pdf