Taking Penang to another level

The Chief Minister stressing a point during his interview with The Star at his office.

SOME three months after he assumed the top post in Penang last year, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow immediately launched the Penang 2030 plan.

He believes the plan, themed ‘A Family- Focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation’, would take the state to new levels through a four-theme approach.

The four initiatives are ‘Increase Liveability to Enhance Quality of Life’, ‘Upgrade the Economy to raise Household Incomes’, ‘Empower People to Strengthen Civil Participation’ and ‘Invest in the Built Environment to Improve Resilience’.

“I am someone who doesn’t really think that I should be identified with a particular project, or an iconic structure, like how Free Industrial Zone is synonymous with the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu.

“I hope my legacy would be a green and smart state, something that I began when I was in charge of the local government portfolio between 2008 and 2018.

“In Penang 2030, we talk about upgrading the economy, increasing the income level, improving liveability so that there will be better quality of life.

“We want our city to achieve a good happiness index, to be smart with good mobility, internet connectivity.

Chow going through some documents at his office in Komtar. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star
Chow going through some documents at his office in Komtar. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star  

“We also encourage civic participation so that the people can play an important role in state affairs,” he said during an interview with The Star recently.

Above all, Chow, in his first year as chief minister, will always be remembered for tabling the motion that limited the tenure of the chief minister to two terms in Penang.

The motion secured more than two-thirds majority at the state legislative assembly in November last year, and Penang went down in history as the first state in the country to do so.

“The move is my greatest delivery item as a chief minister, and I don’t called it an achievement.

“I did it quite fast, before the year-end sitting last year and I am glad I have delivered.It’s an election promise which I have to keep.

“It is the first thing I want to honour and it is done now,” said Chow.

On the performances of his state exco members, Chow said: “They have not achieved great things but they have not made any big mistakes.”

He said a few of them were first-timers who had only served for a year.

Chow admiring the stunning view from his office in Komtar, Penang.
Chow admiring the stunning view from his office in Komtar, Penang.  

“One year is not sufficient for the first- termers to excel. They need to understand the environment, the networking and whatare the things to focus.

“They are still learning. Probably in the second or third year, they will gain more confidence and deliver on their portfolios,” he said.

Moving forward, Chow said Malaysia should move towards a country that does not discriminate its own people by race, religion or culture.

“It should be based on the ability of a person to lead and perform.

“Our society changes, and we must focus on meritocracy, instead of ethnic background,” he said.

On a personal note, Chow said he was satisfied that he could rise up to the occasion to lead the state.

With Pakatan Harapan now helming the Federal Government, he said he could now tap into their resources and leverage on them to bring development to Penang.

“My challenges are to get the best not only for myself, but the people with me to realise the Penang 2030 vision.

“I have been very focused on Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

“I am very open, consultative and have been preparing a lot of platforms for people to voice their views on PTMP.

“The consultative process has already been done and it is still subject to federal approval.

“It’s the agencies’ responsibilities to ensure that what we submitted comply with laws and regulations.”

The RM46bil PTMP comprises the RM9bil light rail transit (LRT) line, the RM9.6bil Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) and other components.

The LRT is an integrated transport solution comprising a monorail link, cable cars and water taxis to solve traffic congestion in Penang while the 19.5km PIL 1 highway project connects Gurney Drive to the Penang International Airport.

The LRT begins from Komtar in the northeast corner of the island and passes through Jelutong, Gelu­gor, Bayan Lepas and the airport before ending at the Penang South Reclamation scheme.

Chow said he hoped the PTMP would come to fruition during his tenure, besides transforming the state to a green and smart city with a better quality of life.

“I always try very hard to bring about behavioural change. We are a community that can do better.

“Politicians prefer the populist moves which I don’t totally subscribe to. During my past exco years, I try to be different.

“But sometimes, I have to be realistic, so I do bend a little bit.

“I aspire to have a rule-based society after I leave,” he said.


Across The Star Online