These days, those who go to the market often complain about the high prices of foodstuff including vegetables. It’s the stuff that many household heads talk about, especially the working class. How on earth to make ends meet…
We are now forced to rely on vegetables from Cameron Highlands, transported by lorries to various markets in towns and cities in the peninsula.
But it wasn’t always like this. In Penang for instance, until the 1980s, large quantities of vegetables were grown on the island. Vegetable farms in Thean Teik supplied close to eight tonnes of vegetables daily and lots of fruit to meet a huge portion of the needs of Penangites. There were other vegetable farms, notably in the Tanjong Tokong area.
But then, our city planners and the BN-led administration, in their wisdom, allowed developers and land trustees to kick out these farmers to make way for “development”. In the Thean Teik case, it led to a bitter confrontation, which the farmers lost.
Some development. Now, we have to get our vegetables from elsewhere. Factor in higher transport cost, higher demand, the rising cost of chemical pesticides and fertilisers and fewer urban vegetable farms, and it’s no wonder vegetable prices are rising.
The argument was that land in Penang was scarce and the farmers had to make way for development.
So looking at the issue from this perspective, I am bewildered that the Pakatan state government is rejoicing because Korean “investors” are planning a US$100 million golf course in Batu Kawan in Penang – a state which cannot find land to grow enough vegetables to feed its population.
How much is PDC selling the land for? How many acres are we talking about here? Is this really the most productive use of land that PDC and the state government can think of in land-scarce Penang, which already has golf courses in Bertam and Bukit Jambul?
Speech By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng During The Signing Of The Memorandum Of Understanding(MOU) Between Penang Development Corporation (PDC) And DK ENC Company Ltd In Seoul, Korea On 30.10.2008 Released In Penang On 1.11.2008.
The US$ 100 Million Golf Course In Batu Kawan Is A Testimony Of The Confidence Of Korean Investors In Penang’s Future Despite The Global Financial Crisis And Belief In Our Commitment To Transforming Penang Into An International City.
The Penang state government welcomes the signing of the MOU between PDC and DK ENC to build a US$ 100 million golf course in Batu Kawan as a testimony of the confidence of Korean investors in Penang’s future in spite of the global financial crisis. By proceeding ahead with the golf project during such uncertain times, Korean investors have also signalled their belief in the new government’s commitment to transforming Penang into an international city.
To transform Penang into an international city, we want participation from all nationalities. We have investors from many countries. But we need to work harder to get more investors from some countries such as Korea, without which Penang can not claim to be a truly international city.
Korea has achieved tremendous success in growing its economy from a poor war-torn state to a developed nation. The success of Korea can be seen by its per capita GNP of only US$130 as compared to Malaysia’s US$350 in 1966. Korea’s GNP per capita is now more than US$18,000 as compared to Malaysia’s US$6,000/-. From almost three times better off than Korea 42 years ago, Malaysia is now three times worse than Korea.
The remarkable economic success of Korea was achieved without any natural resources such as oil and commodities, except for its people. There is much to learn from the success of Korea’s economic transformation based on a culture of excellence, a strong work ethic, openness to new ideas and mastery of technology.
Penang bears some similarities in that we are also without natural resources. Penang’s success was built on our human resources and our faith in the ability of the people. Korea’s GDP of US$982 billion in 2007 comprising of 57% services and 40% manufacturing mirrors Penang’s small US$7.5 billion economy. Penang hopes not only to attract investors and tourists to the beautiful city of Penang but also learn how we can replicate Korea’s success.
Everyone knows that Korea’s success does not rest in economic performance alone but also in its popular pop culture, famous throughout Asia, and its sporting athletes. Korean lady golfers are the best in the world reflecting the Korean love for golf.
This US$ 100 million project by DK ENC, which has a track record of building golf courses not only in Korea but also in Ho Chi Minh city, will not only give opportunity for Koreans to indulge in your love for golf but also offer employment and business opportunities for Penangnites. This US$ 100 million mixed development golf project when completed in 2013, will be the most expensive in Penang.
To make Penang a unique attractive destination, we will be taking measures to improve safety and security on one of the safest cities in Malaysia. We will also be improving on traffic and transportation systems as well as communications facilities. Penang will be the first wifi state in Malaysia when our free wireless and affordable wimax services are completed in 2 years. By then anyone can be connected to the Internet any time, any place and any where in Penang for free.
Penang is proud to be the only state promoting Korea in Malaysia. We organised the Korean Food Fest last month and will be organising a Korean cultural performance at the end of this year. By heading a 52-member business delegation to participate in the Asia Pacific Tourism and Investment Conference during the middle of the global financial crisis shows that Penang is committed in welcoming Korean investors or tourists and sincere in being your friend. We offer our friendship and co-operation towards greater prosperity together.
LIM GUAN ENG
Interesting that Penang is described as one of the safest cities in Malaysia…
To show us how CAT works in practice, the state government must also tell us how much the whole trip cost and who paid for it. Even if the state government did not spend a cent, we want to know who is picking up the tab for state government representatives on official duty.
A few other questions:
- Why do we need Koreans to build a golf course in Penang? Can’t locals or Penangites build one on their own if there is land available? Not that building a golf-course is the smartest thing to do…
- Which plot of land are we talking about? Shouldn’t there be an open tender for this land?
- What other investments have been secured? Was it the right timing for such a trip given the major economic problems right now? Aren’t Korean firms feeling insecure about their own economic well being in the face of Korea’s own economic problems now?
- Why do we need to wait for someone to return from China (according to a Malaysiakini report) to know how much the trip cost? Isn’t there a Penang state government-approved budget for the trip?
- What have we got to show from this mission? An MOU for a golf course?
The larger issue is that we can no longer rely on FDI to spur economic growth. FDI is drying up all over as the global economic slowdown and US recession kicks in, and if we think that a golf course will attract the almighty foreign investors, then we are going to find ourselves disappointed. The neo-liberal economic model and “free market” fundamentalism have flopped spectacularly and it’s time to go back to the basics. Like ensuring our self-sufficiency in food, upgrading public transport, providing better schools and skills training institutions, and enhancing facilities for SMEs.