Penang should embrace the 3T strategy by focusing on technology, tourism and talent to pave the way for a progressive future and sustainable growth.
Chairman of WOU’s George Town Institute of Open and Advanced Studies (GIOAS) Tan Sri Andrew Sheng suggested this during the session on “Attracting Investments, Forging Growth & Prosperity” at the Penang Future Forward Summit 2023 on 14 March 2023.
In his talk, he emphasised that Penang is well-positioned to take advantage of a growth strategy that extends beyond manufacturing to include digital services, manufacturing support and creative green services. Malaysia must find its niche in the global knowledge-based economy (KBE) since technology and eco-tourism are key value-added contributors to future income and exports, he said.
Highlighting the importance of tourism as a key contributor to the state’s economy, Tan Sri Sheng said that the designations of George Town, Penang as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve could enhance Penang’s potential in developing high value tourism and generating substantial income.
He also stressed on the importance of education in adopting the 3T strategy, urging companies to not only retain talents but also invest generously in their development. He appealed to the academia, business and civil service sectors to collaborate as a team to define Penang’s strategic strengths and opportunities.
“The real secret lies in establishing partnerships between local players and foreign MNCs (multinational companies) as well as the government and universities to upgrade our brain power and our talent,” he remarked.
Penang State EXCO for Trade, Industry and Entrepreneurial Development, Dato’ Haji Abdul Halim bin Haji Hussain believed that Penang is well-positioned for growth, having established a strong ecosystem in the electrical and electronics (E&E) sector.
However, he said that Penang must expand beyond the E&E sector and attract investments in medical tourism, wellness, agricultural technology, food technology and green initiatives to maintain a strong and sustainable growth.
Dato’ Abdul Halim added that digitalisation is also a priority for Penang, with the formation of Digital Penang in 2020 to support and facilitate the growth of the start-up ecosystem in the state.
Special Advisor to the Chief Minister on Economic Affairs and Director, Invest-in-Penang Berhad and Penang Development Corporation, Dato’ Seri Lee Kah Choon said that Penang is on the verge of a technology explosion with a promising economic landscape that presents plenty of exciting business opportunities.
He elaborated that the inevitable use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology and automation-driven manufacturing processes like quantum computing, augmented reality and 3d printing will require electronics. Penang’s critical role in the global E&E sector underscores the importance of the industry to the state and the country, he said.
The final speaker for the session, Mak Joon Nien, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Berhad, said that it is important to diversify across the value chain and play upstream when it comes to technology.
He shared that MNCs are attracted to the established ecosystem rather than tax incentives when choosing to invest in Penang. He called for more collaboration between institutions and support from the state and federal governments in developing relevant skillsets.
The session was moderated by the President of Penang-Chengdu Friendship Association, Stephen Lai.