Welcoming Speech for Penang Green Agenda Symposium on Sustainable Penang

Welcoming Speech by Thing Siew Shuen, General Manager of Penang Green Council on 15 January 2018 during the Penang Green Agenda Symposium on Sustainable Penang at Auditorium A, KOMTAR:

Good morning, ladies and gentleman.

Welcome to the Symposium on Sustainable Penang 2018. On behalf of the organiser, I would like to thank our friends and collaborators, Penang State Economic Planning Unit, Penang Institute, Penang Island City Council (MBPP), Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP), Penang Youth Development Corporation (PYDC), Malaysia Green Building Confederation (MGBC), our distinguished guests who come all the way from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, also, all of you who put aside your work to participate in this symposium. We are grateful as this symposium gives us the opportunity to come together to discuss about the challenges we will be facing, and the strategies to make Penang a more sustainable and greener state by 2030.

We hope that this symposium will generate inputs to develop the Penang Green Agenda, which will be a directive document with strategies to make Penang a green and sustainable state by referring to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This symposium is not an isolated programme; in order to find out what concerned the citizens and what are the perspectives in terms of environmental needs, we have conducted interviews, focus group discussions, and roadshows, public surveys on the ground and online last year through the consultant team from USM. This is part of the stakeholder consultation in the policy-making process.

During the first stage of the consultation process, some people are sceptical about what we are doing, what benefit will this agenda bring to Penang, whether the government will truly listen or not, whether the Green Agenda is implementable or not. Yes, some people are sceptical towards the outcome of the Penang Green Agenda. Internally and externally, we also faced various views and arguments on how to make Penang a sustainable state, even our researchers have been reprimanded by aggressive party during roadshows. Despite all these challenges, we think that the consultation process is a necessary part of democracy, and all of us are learning how to play our part in this process.

We could have chosen a simpler and faster way to draft the Penang Green Agenda by just calling a few meetings among a few government and department leaders, just like what happened in other places. However, YAB CM, our state leaders, PGC directors and committees have chosen to make strenuous efforts to make it a participatory agenda, which means we are attempting to involve as many people as possible so that the people of Penang will take the ownership of this agenda.

What do you want Penang to be like in the next 10-15 years? This is a question to ponder. Our speakers are going to share their knowledge and insights on global sustainability challenges, sustainable planning, climate change and green economy. We also formed a special forum for youth to speak out. In the long run, whether the agenda is implementable or actionable or not in the next 10-15 years, requires the support and commitments of our youth today.

After this symposium, we will form working groups and technical teams to focus on several expertise areas. If you would like to be involved in the working group for the Penang Green Agenda, you may register directly at our secretariat.

To do nothing is often the best course of action, but history was not made by those who did nothing. Thank you everyone for your continued dedication and contribution. I wish you a fruitful discussion.