There has been speculation that Malaysia will go to the polls later this year.
The ambitious, extensive plans unveiled by PM Abdullah Badawi for the development of the northern states of Malaysia fllowing in the heels of the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in the south serve to reinforce this possibility. Both big-scale development projects are seen as part of PM Badawi’s efforts to rebuff talk that there are not enough developments under his leadership.
After the launch of the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) blueprint for Penang, there were also some observations of how the officials’ language during their speeches had been most congenial to introducing the elections. Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon for example was “very upbeat”, describing the Penang projects as “a gift” from PM Badawi. According to the Star, “parts of his speech could easily be used again during the general election.” The NCER was envisioned as a high-tech electronics hub of the northern region, and will precipitate the expansion into chip design, automation design, materials or packaging R&D and wafer fabrication. Penang is the hometown of PM Abdullah Badawi.
Emphasis was placed on the role that the bumiputeras will play in this comprehensive scheme, a scheme that is meant to benefit them. Koh said bumiputera participation would be supported through jointly by both government-linked companies and local investors. The New Straits Times reported “We will not leave them out. The Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputera Bhd, with strong financial standing, will drive them to greater success in development projects,” said Koh. In particular, one of the central economic activities in the Kerian district, padi farming, will be transformed by the NCER into the country’s rice bowl.
In optimistic, inspiring language, PM Badawi even outlined the possibility of developing a cure for cancer. He said that the North had forests that were rich in biodiversity, and the NCER blueprint includes a research centre for herbal biotechnology that could lead to scientific breakthroughs. According to the New Straits Times, he said “We must take full advantage of the forest’s rich biodiversity. There has been a scientific study on a plant from the forest which could cure cancer.”
Particularly, the NCER spells good things for Penang, in which the most significant changes will take place. There will be a push to expand and enhance tourism by offering tourists unique products so as to increase the number of days they spend in Malaysia, and also, the amount of money they spend. In this light an international conference centre will be built in Penang and named “Penang Global City Centre”, featuring two iconic towers, two five star hotels, a shopping complex and a state of the art performing arts centre. Penang will also get a modern integrated logistics and transport hub costing 2 billion ringgit, a premier medical tourism centre, and will be the site of the longest bridge in Southeast Asia.
As Chair of the coordinating body that will oversee NCER, PM Badawi has taken an active role promoting and rallying government bodies, citizens and businessmen to support the project as best they can. “A single body is needed to ensure smooth implementation for the NCER. It will also ensure cooperation by everyone,” quoted the Star. Particularly striking was the nationalist language used to promote the NCER to the private sector, sounding as though the effort they put into realizing the NCER is a form of national service. Excuses for their lack of engagement were, to PM Badawi, inadmissible. “I don’t want to listen to any excuses from anyone, especially those who say they are too busy with their business and taking care of their wealth,” he said, reported the Star.
Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali turned the focus on the human factor, stating that the NCER most needed the peoples’ concerted efforts. He said “Those who are passive and only hope for progress to come to his lap will not benefit from the programme. Those who let this opportunity goes to waste let themselves continue to lag behind and may need to wait another 20 years for another magic formula,” reported Bernama. Citizens needed to embrace self-improvement, to commit to the NCER and participate in it passionately. No one, he said, would be neglected or left out of the planned development flows.
Along with the Iskandar Development Region, the NCER thus forecasts positively for economic growth. Three more growth areas – covering the east coast, the central region as well as Sabahand Sarawak– are expected to be launched soon. All these will sweeten the ground for a general election that has to take place before early 2009, and is likely to be sooner than later. (2 Aug 2007)
Various projects on the cards for north Perak (New Straits Times, 2nd August 2007)
Beneficiaries of the NCER (Edge Daily, 1st Aug 2007)
Big changes for Penang(Malaysia Star, 1st Aug 2007)
Penang o undergo transformation into major logistics, transportation hub (The Star, 1st Aug 2007)
PM to chair NCER body (The Star, 1st Aug 2007)
PM: Everyone must join hands to ensure NCER’s success (The Star, 1st Aug 2007)Penangon fast track to lead Northern Corridor (NST, 1st Aug 2007)
Koh: Bumiputeras will not lose out (NST, 1st Aug 2007)
Northern Perakto see development in agriculture, tourism (NST, 1st Aug 2007)
NCER Promises An Exciting Period For Penang, Says Koh (Bernama, 1st Aug 2007)
Perak Hopes To Expand NCER Programmes Statewide (Bernama, 31st July 2007)
NCER Will See Greater Bumi Participation In Penang's Development (Bernama, 31st July 2007)
Penang's Tourism, Manufacturing Sectors To Get A Boost Under Ncer (Bernama, 31st Jul y 2007)
PM Unveils NCER Blueprint For Penang, Perak (Bernama, 31st July 2007)