Speech by Lim Guan Eng during the Prince of Wales International School Ground breaking ceremony in Balik Pulau on Saturday, 23rd January 2010 at 9.30am:
Penang wants to both build the future for our youth as well as build our youth for the future
I wish to take this opportunity to thank the management and staff of MTT for for inviting me to this ground breaking ceremony of MTT’s The Prince of Wales Island International School and congratulate them on their success. Costing RM 95 million, this international school can accommodate 800 students when it is fully completed within 2 years.
Today’s event marks another important milestone of the Public-Private partnership whereby MTT has decided to embark into the education sector with the full spport of the state government. Penang state government’s vision to transform Penang into an International City can only succeed with a high-income economy that is knowledge intensive. Essentially we must be both the sweat-shop of the manufacturing sector and the smart-shop of the services sector. Quality education is one of the key components of realising Penang’s vision as an International city. Therefore the establishment of the Prince of Wales Island International School clearly symbolizes the growing importance of providing quality international school curriculum and places Penang as another education site of choice to all Penangites and expatriates in this state.
Balik Pulau is a choice location as an education hub of excellence with its verdant green and lush surroundings suitably quiet for academic pursuits. It is here that the state government has placed our hopes to develop the one resource that Penang possesses to drive Penang forward as a high-tech, creative and innovative knowledge-based economy. Over 200 acres of land has been acquired to attract international schools, university branch campuses, hospitality schools and science centers. We are happy that the private sector in MTT has also decided to establish an education institution here.
To be on top of the rest, we need to have the best and that is why we are catering for the best students and teachers as well as opportunities. We need to provide the wherewithal for students to nurture excellence. Penang has taken a determined effort to do more beyond our legal requirements whether in the form of providing fixed annual allocations for religious and vernacular schools or through our wifi initiative providing wifi services throughout the state free of charge.
It is crucial that we have higher broadband connectivity to achieve higher broadband penetration. Even though Penang’s broadband penetration at 33% is higher than the national average of 26%, we are still far behind Korea’s 92%. There is so much we need to do and our hope is that with educational centers of excellence, we can allow the local people to benefit in the form of wider broadband availability.
Foreign students in Malaysia are on the increase from year to year. According to Immigration Department’s statistics, 65,000 foreign students enrolled in international schools throughout Malaysia in 2008, compared to 48,000 in 2006. Penang alone has six international schools and The Prince of Wales Island International School will be a welcome 7th addition that will only increase the appeal of Penang to the many expatriates and visitors.
If we’re going to continue to attract foreign direct investment into Penang, we have got to get the international schools ready to house children of the expatriates who come with it. The local demand to enroll in the international school is even higher. According to a report by Raine & Horne, the waiting time to enroll can be two years. Therefore, I think there is no doubt that Prince of Wales Island International School will do well to cater to the existing demands.
Amongst Penang’s recipes of success depends greatly on how private sectors entrepreneurs can successfully drive forward the high technology industries. Here, Penang must start to recognize the importance of having innovative products or creative processes for both domestic and international markets through the rapid development of technology. When I visited Taiwan, it became apparent that public policies have played a pivotal role in facilitating the private sectors. Taiwanese companies such as Acer, Hong Hai and even Malaysian-owned Phison owe their successes to the entrepreneurial spirit and strong visionary leaderships from the government.
That is why Penang should look into injecting a scientific and entrepreneurial component into its education system. We must try to encourage more students to do the difficult scientific disciplines if Penang is to succeed in retaining our edge as not only as the Silicon Valley of Malaysia but transform ourselves also as the Software Valley of Malaysia.
With that in mind, the Penang Science Council is being formed to help encourage more young children and young adults to be innovative and creative in the area of Science. We intend to start with young minds, to inculcate a healthy interest in science subjects by organising quiz and competition contests. We also want to provide retraining and upgrading centers for mature professionals and university students. Through the involvement of the existing industry, science learnt in schools is not a mere academic exercise but can be applicable, practical and commercially rewarding. We will be holding our first protem Penang Science Council meeting on Monday at Komtar with all the relevant industry players and educationists.
A mark of good leadership is not merely the ability to show a better performance than others but that room and opportunity is offered for others to perform better than the leaders. Penang wants all of you to outperform us. Similarly to fulfill the promise of youth, we do not just build the future for our youth, but we must build our youth for the future. This is the promise Penang will try to accomplish to build not only a more desirable Penang but equip our youth with the capacity and ability to face the future.
Finally, let me also record my heartiest congratulations to MTT, on the ground breaking ceremony of The Prince of Wales Island International School. MTT has certainly distinguished itself not just through the strength in the property development arena but through the establishment of this fine international school that you can certainly be very proud of. I wish Dato Kenny Ong, the management and staff of the MTT every success in your future undertakings and endeavors.
*Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General & Penang Chief Minister; Member of Parliament for Bagan