A YEAR AND a half has come and gone since chief minister Chow Kon Yeow announced his vision for the state.
The vision, Penang2030: A Family-focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation, comprises four overarching themes of focus. These are: increase liveability to enhance quality of life; upgrade the economy to raise household income; empower the people to strengthen civic participation; and lastly, invest in the built environment to improve resilience.
Each theme is supported by four strategic initiatives, which are placed under the portfolios of the respective state executive councillors. Tasked with following up, monitoring and reporting on their progress are 16 Champion Officers elected by the state excos and Chow himself.
Giving words to these ideals is the official Penang2030 Guide1 – the result of rigorous consultations with several stakeholder engagement sessions – that was launched last April. The guide is a living document that will be continuously updated, and contains the state government’s projects for the years to come as well as its aspired targets.
To achieve said targets, a total of 16 Strategic Initiative workshops facilitated by Anushia Kandasamy were conducted between September and December last year. This were to define the specific actions and projects that are ongoing and those that are to be rolled out; and participants from both the public and private sectors were invited to share their ideas.
In order to deliver results, strategising and communication between state agencies is crucial. Hence, a Prioritisation workshop – a conclusion to the string of Strategic Initiative workshops – was conducted by the Penang2030 Advisory Panel and Unit Penang2030 to consolidate the state government’s previously discussed short-, medium- and long-term plans, as well as to determine their respective implementing agencies and bodies. The workshop was attended by state excos, mayors and heads of various state agencies, including the Secretary of State, the State Legal Advisor, the State Finance Officer and the Chief Minister himself. It was held at Batu Ferringhi on February 22, 2020 – a mere two days before Malaysia’s politics went haywire.
The participants discussed openly the bottlenecks faced and the support they each would require in realising the shared vision. At the end of the day, a common consensus was agreed on: the need to implement Penang2030 is now stronger than ever, and constant monitoring of the progress being made is imperative. The output from the workshop will be reflected in the updated version of the Penang2030 Guide, to be released to the general public soon.
Still on the topic of progress, collaboration between the public and private sectors have taken place over the months in accordance with Penang2030; present-time updates can be obtained from the state’s Buletin Mutiara. One recent collaboration is that between the Penang Youth Development Corporation and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), to introduce volunteer, student exchange and training programmes to the youths of Penang. This partnership is in line with Penang2030’s Strategic Initiative C3 of Theme C: to boost the participation of youth, women and seniors in community life.2
Likewise, a recent MoU signing between Majlis Bandaraya Seberang Perai (MBSP) and Malaysia Green Building Council Northern Chapter signified a strategic collaboration to promote green and sustainable development in Seberang Perai. This aligns with the Strategic Initiative D4 of Theme D: implement climate change adaptation plans.
The state’s think tank Penang Institute, together with the US Embassy, also recently organised a civic engagement workshop – one of the many initiatives parked under its People Empowerment Programme that supports Theme C: empowering the citizens of Penang. This session, aimed to develop a sense of civic responsibility among the participants and explore ways for them to prompt others, was led by Brian MacHarg, the director of civic engagement at Appalachian State University, North Carolina.
Additionally, on a recent visit to USM, Dato’ Dr. Ooi Kee Beng, executive director of Penang Institute, presented the Penang2030 vision and its objectives to the university’s new vice chancellor Prof Dr. Faisal Rafiq and the department heads, so that they too can partake in state development initiatives. A low-hanging fruit that was agreed on was for USM to share its research outcomes with the public through Penang Monthly. After all, Penang2030 is designed to democratise policymaking.