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Transforming Penang into a world class tourism hub?

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Choo Sing Chye gets a sense of deja vu when he hears the BN talking about its big plans for Penang should it recapture the state.

Teng Chang Yeow - Photograph: Choo Choy May/Malaysian Insider
Teng Chang Yeow – Photograph: Choo Choy May/Malaysian Insider

The gumption to tell the truth is never a forte of the Barisan Nasional government.

And these lies had been repetitively bundled into cute little news reports that are ever so willingly published by the subservient B-leaning media as truths. This is Joseph Goebbels’ doctrine at its best – repeating lies over and over again until it is “transformed” into truths.

In a desperate “Vote us back” message, the BN pledged that “it would raise Penang’s global image to be, in the eyes of tourists, at par with other world-class cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore and create a business-friendly environment for investors and companies” (Malaysiakini).

This “Vote us back” message, launched in the amidst a huge volume of hot air and pathetic yelping of transforming Penang into a Singapore/Hongkong-like super tourism hub, is a tall tale

The State BN chief, Teng Chang Yeow, should have known that Penang BN under Dr Koh Tsu Koon had said precisely the same TALL TALE in 1990 and pronounced publicly that a state tourism master plan was to be drawn up to transform Penang into a top tourist centre, rivalling the best in the world.

Teng Chang Yeow and his cohorts should easily recall Koh Tsu Koon’s 1990 Budget maiden speech as Chief Minister in the State Assembly. He resolved that:

“Kerajaan baru akan mengubal pelan induk pelancongan untuk menghadapi cabaran-cabaran baru dan untuk meningkatkan lagi kedudukan negeri Pulau Pinang sebagai pusat destinasi pelancongan yang utama di dunia.”

This was said by the brand new Penang BN Chief Minister 22 years ago. And in mid-1993 the Penang state government still hadn’t come out with the promised state tourism master plan. Worse, the affluent Malaysian press did not have the decency to probe the then Penang Chief Minister for the truth!

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The chronicle of statements made by the then BN state government and its State Tourism Committee chairperson Madam Kee Phaik Cheen is revealing.


On 6 November 1990, under the headline in The Star, ‘Master plan to streamline tourist trade’, the first public statement made by Kee on the tourism master plan, affirmed that a master plan would be drawn up to streamline tourism development in Penang towards the 21st century.

Six months later, in May 1991, Kee further stated that a foreign PR firm would be drafting a directional paper-cum-action plan to rejuvenate Penang as a major tourist destination.

But a mere three months later, on 1 August 1991, Kee changed her mind and, under the headline in The Star: ‘Experts drawing up new tourism plan’, stated that a group of local (now local) consultants would be drawing up an aggressive action plan to further promote and market Penang in the international tourism market.

Apparently just in a spate of three months, the confused Kee changed the team of consultants from a foreign PR firm to a group of local consultants drawing up the same plan.

Okay, before going further, let’s scroll back a little bit so as not to be confused. First of all, we know in May 1991, a tourism action plan was supposed to be drafted by a foreign PR firm and in less than three months later, on 1 August, the BN government changed to a group of local consultants drawing up same plan. Okay, so far so good.

Now, here’s a gem of a statement by the Penang BN government. Call it transformation if you wish; here it is.

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A year later, on 19 June 1992, Kee again announced that the drafting of the Penang Tourism action plan was to be drafted by the Penang state overnment.

Now, instead of being drafted by local consultants, she affirmed on 11 November, the same year, in The Star, under the headline ‘State government forms teams to draw up tourism action plan’ that the working teams involving relevant government agencies, formed by the state tourism committee, would draw up a comprehensive and aggressive tourism action plan towards the year 2000.

Okay, let’s us regress and simplify this whole episode, in May 1991, a tourism action plan was supposed to be drafted by a foreign PR firm, but changed in less than three months to a group of local consultants. Fifteen months later, it changed again to the Penang state tourism committee, assisted by working teams from relevant government agencies. Now we are back to an all BN show.

Year 2000 came and went – nothing done! And had the Penang state tourism committee been successful in transforming Penang into a world class tourism Hub, BN-leaning newspapers and electronic media would be reporting this success to the hilt – but they did not and remained very silent, in fact too silent.

Lately, the state BN chief, Teng Chang Yeow with its cohorts’ nasty traits of forgetting the past, dove in to announce the ‘Vote us back plan’ ahead of the 13th General Election.

In a travesty of logic, the Penang state BN blared out its breast-beating message that “Penangites cannot afford to be stagnating. Penang needs another transformation, just like what it had done over 40 years ago” (Malaysiakini).

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Yes, Teng Chang Yeow, here we go again!

Choo Sing Chye, a former Perak state assembly member, served as politcal secretary to the late P Patto.

Source: singchyeblog.blogspot.com

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6 Jan 2013 10.34pm

Leaving politics aside Tourism development requires a multi faceted approach and long term commitment. Would having a PR firm lead such an endeavour be the right step forward?

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