Saturday, February 26, 2011

'Halal Penang' takes on globally

The Penang state government intends to make its mark on the map of the Islamic world through providing an all-encompassing halal solution – from Islamic manufacturing to Islamic financing, in all sectors like food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and even banking.

Today, Penang successfully launched her 3-day “2nd International Halal Exposition” at the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA). The ‘Halal Conference’ will take place the following day.

Spearheading the bold initiative of the ‘Halal Penang’ is Haji Abdul Malik Kassim, the State Minister for Religious Affairs and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.

‘Halal Penang’, the State’s facilitation agency was awarded ‘Best Halal Facility Provider’ in a recent excellence award presentation held in conjunction with the International Islamic Tourism & Halal Week (IISTHAL) 2009 in Kuala Lumpur. Today, ‘Halal Penang’ is recipient to the prestigious ‘HALMAS’ status, an acclaimed and privileged status by the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC).

“This represents a huge leap for ‘Halal Penang’ in terms of domestic and international recognition,” proudly declared Haji Abdul Malik.

Although fairly a new kid on the block, established just 18 months ago, the ambitious ‘Halal Penang’ has been actively participating on a global scale; a move that has attracted many prospective investors from as far as India, Yemen, Wales, Iran, Pakistan, China and even Russia.

Located within the Bukit Minyak Industrial zone, in Seberang Perai, some 50 acres of land has been designated to host the Penang International Halal Park. Talks of collaboration with research institutes and universities in the region are underway in a bid to realize an International R & D Halal Centre here.

As Malaysia has long been associated with quality and trusted halal certification due to Islam being its official religion, it is only natural that Penang – the second largest city in the country engage in adopting all available resources to further enhance the country’s capacity in offering such services.

The International Penang Halal Hub caters to a largely untapped global halal market that is estimated to be a US$3 trillion industry. Halal certification is a quality control that validates a product’s compliance according to Islamic guidelines.

“Penang wants a share of it,” confessed Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, in conclusion that Penang has the infrastructure and amenities to facilitate a world standard halal hub; especially so with a government that adopts and implements the CAT principles – Competency, Accountability and Transparency.

Lim Guan Eng also revealed that to date, Penang has RM215 million in investments with regards to the ‘Halal Penang’ initiative and a total of 331 certified halal companies. These include ‘green’ businesses that manufacture bio-degradable and eco-packaging items.

“Special incentives and tax rebates are among the features of the halal hub,” assured Haji Abdul Malik, adding that non-muslims are also able to partake in such investments.

CM Lim explains FOI bill

A Select Committee was set up by the Penang State Government to look into matters pertaining to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill comprising of 6 members including three from UMNO.

However, the State’s effort in mediating middle ground to get public feedback was thwarted as all three members from UMNO failed to attend the two full-day meetings with the various organizations from all around Penang; citing reasons like having other meetings and falling sick. The meetings were slated for 14th and 21st of February.

The Penang FOI Bill was copied en bloc from the current Selangor FOI Bill.

According to Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, this was because the State Legal Advisor had initially opposed the proposal of an FOI Bill claiming that it was unconstitutional. Regardless, Penang followed suit soon after the Selangor FOI was passed and tabled the bill for first reading at the State Assembly.

Lim said that the State Legal Advisor had claimed that information is a federal jurisdiction and not under the purview of the State.

“When it is unconstitutional it cannot be tabled at the state assembly,” Lim pointed out.

“…the tabling of the bill must also have the concurrence of the State Legal Advisor. When Selangor passed the bill, we asked the State Legal Advisor that ‘if Selangor can do it, why can’t we?’”

“It was only then that she agreed and it was only then that in order to avoid the bill not being tabled at the State Assembly; we adopted in total the Selangor FOI bill,” he continued, contending that this was a window of opportunity to get the co-operation of the State Legal Advisor.

Lim agrees that the Selangor FOI bill has its shortcoming and needs some improvement. He explained that that was the reason why the State set up a Select Committee to get feedback from the public – so that the State Assembly is able to make the necessary amendments thereafter.

He also reiterated the State’s reason for not first getting public feedback before tabling the bill at the State Assembly as such a move would only be met with disapproval, since it would still ‘seem’ unconstitutional at such a time.

“That is also why we adopted the Selangor FOI bill 100%, to avoid being unconstitutional,” he added.

Lim questions the sincerity of BN with regards to the FOI bill saying that if they were sincere they would have presented it in parliament.

Members from the state opposition party had expressed dissatisfaction over certain clauses in the Penang FOI bill, claiming that it curbed information rather than allowing it.

“We are sincere in pushing this (FOI) through. That is why we are getting public feedback instead of just passing the bill,” Lim emphasized, asserting that the State Government practices ‘participatory democracy’ as promised, yet they were being criticized.

In closing, Lim reprimanded the opposition for confusing the public and for being a hypocrite. He also challenges them to pass the FOI act in parliament.

“Beranikah? Beranikah?” Lim poses the question to Gerakan and MCA. (“Do you dare to? Do you dare to?”)

Silat Lincah unites

Unity was the central theme in an event sponsored by the Bayan Baru Independent Member of Parliament, Zahrain Mohamed Hashim.

Happily unaware of the blazing sun, 200 ‘Silat Lincah’ martial artists demonstrated their skills in the presense of the founder of the Silat Lincah Association (PSSLM), Haji Omardin Mauju, some VIPs and the public last week at the football field opposite PISA, in Sungai Ara, Penang.

Although the association was registered only in 1969, it was already active in 1963; and has 22 branches all over the world with about 1.2 million members worldwide; of which 30,000 are foreign. Among the countries that PSSLM has laid foot on are England, Belgium, New Zealand, Holland, France, Madagascar and South Korea.
Megat Zulkarnian, son of its founder said: In Penang, its branch started in 1972 at the Custom’s Village in Bukit Gelugor. Presently the Penang branch boasts of 210,000 members.

Its founder, Haji Omardin was awarded the ‘Living Legend of Silat’ by the International Association of Educators World Peace in 2008.

“Why go for taekwondo or karate when we have ‘Silat Lincah’?,” Zahrain reminded the crowd of spectators.

“This Malay tradition must be kept alive,” he continued, urging the Malays to regain the Malay pride through the martial art.

PSSLM opens its membership to all races.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Press Statement by Chow Kon Yeow 7 Feb 2011

This morning I have directed the President of the Penang Island Municipal Council Hajah Patahiyah Ismail and officials to speed up restructuring activities in Batu Feringghi.

The MPPP President will be meeting water sports operators this Friday to work out solutions on the zoning proposal in Batu Feringghi.

Meanwhile, the MPPP will continue to enforce the ban on horse-riding, quadbike riding and water sport activities.

Penang State Government Will Speed Up Restructuring Of Activities

In Batu Feringghi During The Ban

The ban will allow the MPPP to engage with all stakeholders, work on the installation of safety buoys and nettings and the licensing of beach operators.

The MPPP has been able to reduce horse-riding and quadbike activities since the ban took effect last December.

The gazebos to relocate foot reflexology operators are near completion and traders will be issued licenses after the Chinese New Year holidays.

Chow Kon Yeow


11 FEBRUARY 2011, 2PM

This community newsletter – myBalikPulau was published with just one intention: to enable children, elders and local residents to engage with their communal space by sharing memories, legends and experiences.

Arts-ED wishes to make it very clear that the newsletter MyBalik Pulau is NOT intended in any way to be a definitive history, or be used as a history book.

The MyBalikPulau newsletter only presents oral histories as accounted by residents of Balik Pulau as well as includes information on Balik Pulau from published sources, which were available to the researchers at the time of writing. Information not available at that time to the researchers was not included.

The oral histories represent stories from persons who were interested and willing to share their stories. Care was taken to engage with all community and ethnic groups. There were those who were happy to share and others who declined; thus their views could not be represented in this newsletter.

Oral histories are a reflection of memories, experiences, and stories passed from generation to generation. They are an articulation of the teller’s perceptions, and choice of words and illustrations.

Arts-ED is dedicated to social inclusiveness and believes that everyone has a right to tell their generational stories and pass on their memories.

Sources of Balik Pulau History adapted for use in the myBa
likPulau newsletter:

1. At the time of the writing of the myBalikPulau paper, the research assistants from Arts-ED only had access to a collection of oral histories published by Pentadbiran Pejabat Daerah dan Tanah Daerah Barat Daya, in a bicentennial catalogue celebrating 100 years of the Balik Pulau District Administration 1987.

2. Besides other useful legends and stories in the above publication, information on early history of Balik Pulau was adapted from one of the articles in the publication “Sejarah Penghijrahan Penduduk-Penduduk Awal Balik Pulau” by Ruhana Ahmad. Among the information the writer concluded about residents from the oral histories collected was:

“Hampir keseluruhan penduduk-penduduk asal yang ditemui di sekitar Balik Pulau mengakui bahawa asal-usul keturunan mereka ialah dari Pattani, Satul, Yala, Kedah dan Perlis”.(pp. 14)

3. Information relating to mass migration in 1820s in the myBalikPulau newsletter is put together from the following written history publication:

i) Haji Buyong Adil. (1980). Sejarah Kedah. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka &
Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia (pp. 53-71)

ii) Andaya, B. W. and L.Y. Andaya (1982). A History of Malaysia. London: Macmillan
Press. (pp. 116-118)

4. Information relating to the events, history and biography of buildings/people/personalities are sourced specifically from Balik Pulau residents and institutional in-house publications.

A second known published ‘oral history’ was recently made known to Arts-ED in the month of February 2011 after the publication and distribution of myBalikPulau newsletter. Arts-ED is dedicated to the collection of oral histories and we welcome any new information which we believe should be publicized and incorporated in any new archives produced by us or by any other parties.

Vaughan, J.D. “Notes on the Malays of Pinang and Province Wellesley”. Journal of the Indian Archipelago & Eastern Asia, new series, 2, 1858: 115-175. (

Vaughan’s article is translated in a 2006 USM research report entitled “Sejarah Awal Pulau Pinang”, available on-line ( Sejarah_Awal_Pulau_Pinang.pdf)

“Dengan dasar sedemikian, permintaan untuk membuka tanah terus diterima oleh orang Melayu dan bukan Melayu. Orang Melayu yang datang bersama-sama Francis Light dari Kedah diberikan tanah percuma di kawasan Datok Keramat, mungkin kerana pengaruh Datok Setia dari Kuala Muda yang memiliki tanah di kawasan tersebut sejak awal lagi. Kapten Scott diberikan kawasan di Gelugor dan membuka tanah untuk penanaman lada hitam di kawasan tersebut. Seorang saudagar Inggeris bernama Bacon membuka Ayer Itam. Beberapa orang Melayu juga disebut membuka beberapa kampong di bahagian barat daya. Pah Kechil dari Batu Bara (Indonesia) bersama-sama Jamaluddin dan nakhoda Che Salleh dari Lingga membuka Permatang Damar Laut,Nakhoda Seedin dari Deli dan Panglima Long dari Setul membuka Teluk Kumbar, dan Lebai Tampak dari Deli membuka Balik Pulau (pp.38-39)”

Original article by Vaughan, J.D: Vaughan transcribes an oral history told by one of the off-springs of an early Malay settler named ‘Haji Mahomed Salleh or Haji Brunie (a native of Brunie who had just returned from Arabia and was waiting at Quala Prye for a vessel bound for Borneo’) .

The original transcription of the oral history actually carries only one line related to Balik Pulau and mentions TWO persons involved in the clearing of land in Balik Pulau:

“The Malays that came over with Light got free grants of land and they cleared the jungle where Datu Cramat now stands. Seven years after the English came, a person name Danbie Chand cleared the land about Batu Lanchang. Two years after a Captain Scott cleared the land at Glughore; he was assisted by a man named Mahomed Prie of
Sungora. Nacodah Intan cleared Batu Uban. A year after an European named Raboo(?) assisted by a Malay named Hakim Tudoh cleared Sunghie Nibong. A Malay named Loh Munu cleared Sunghie Kluang.Haji Mahomad Salleh three years after this, or about twelve after coming to Pinang, settled at Bayan Lepas with a man named Long Syed…(cont.) Nacodah Seedin, a native of Delhi, and Panglima Long of Sittool first
settled at Tellok Commber. Tukong Ko of Purlis and Lebbi Tampak of Delhie, cleared
Bali Pulo. (pp.174 -175)”


Tel No : 04- 2633471

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Press Statement by Penang Gerakan State Chairman Dato’ Dr Teng Hock Nan

Press Statement by Penang Gerakan State Chairman Dato’ Dr Teng Hock Nan pertaining to the incident of distribution of flyers bearing
a doctored photograph which is showing YAB Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang wearing a kopiah (skullcap)

Dato’ Dr Teng Hock Nan condemns the irresponsible, unethical and the despicable act of doctored photograph of YAB Lim Guan Eng,Chief Minister of Penang wearing a skullcap.

The people behind, he said is just to get political mileage through this means. Smearing each others name in politics should not be our culture. Dr Teng urges those people who are behind the act should stop it immediately.

He hopes all politicians and leaders of the country whether they are in the government or in the opposition should practice politics in the very honorable, ethical and professional manner, so as to show a good example to our future generation.

Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 16.2.2011

Penang State Government Establishes A New State Executive Council(EXCO) Portfolio For Non-Islamic Religious Affairs To Handle Religious Matters Relating To Buddhists, Christians, Sikhism, Taoism & Hinduism.

The Penang state government has established a new State Executive Council portfolio for non-Islamic Affairs to handle religious matters relating to Buddhists, Christians, Sikhism, Taoism & Hinduism. This is the first time that a state executive council portfolio has been formed in Penang and the EXCO member in charge will be the Chief Minister.

The State EXCO for Non-Islamic Religious Affairs was presented by Deputy Chief Minister II Professor Dr P. Ramasamy to the weekly state EXCO meeting and approved last week. Professor Dr P. Ramasamy will be the deputy in this non-Islamic Affairs EXCO portfolio.

The establishment of the non-Islamic Religious Affairs portfolio marks the celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week by the United Nations this week. Unlike the Federal Government’s Committee for the Promotion of Inter-religious Understanding and Harmony, this is not a committee but a full EXCO portfolio and reflects the state government’s genuine concerns on all religious matters.

Further as a George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage city, the formation of this EXCO portfolio is timely as it promotes diversity and positive human interaction on cultural, religious and social spheres. Despite our differences, we are united by our common aspirations for good practices and universal moral values of peace, justice, moderation and harmony. Co-operation not confrontation, mutual respect not tolerance, and understanding not ignorance will be the governing creed of this new Penang EXCO portfolio.

Penang is willing to work with the Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak’s who had expressed hopes at the United Nations’ 65th general assembly last year, during which he said he did not want any extremist or militant groups to threaten unity and security in Malaysia. The Penang state government is concerned at the existence of extremist groups who seeks to racialise every event for their own selfish interests. Penang has been under siege with attacks of being anti-Malay even if it only involves only 10% Malays or one Malay out of 10 affected parties.

The Penang state government calls on the people to embrace the future by embracing every Malay, Indian, Chinese, Kadazan and Iban, as Malaysian brothers and sisters, Malaysian sons and daughters.

Then only can we grow together, learn together and enjoy the success together.


Press Statement by YB Dr Xavier Jayakumar, Selangor State EXCO and State Assemblyman for Seri Andalas


I salute the move taken by YAB Lim Guan Eng and the Penang state government in forming an official portfolio for non-muslim affairs, it is an effort that is to be commended.

The central aim and objectives of the Committee for non-muslim affairs is to promote greater inter-faith understanding and build strong working relationships between all non-muslim religious bodies and the state governments.

For example, Selangor’s non-muslim committee is jointly chaired by myself, YB Teresa Kok and YB Ronnie Liew, along with four other ADUNs, 7 representatives of the main non-muslim religious bodies and various other government department representatives including reps from District Offices, JAIS, JKR, JPS and PTG.

The Barisan National government should welcome the initiatives taken by the Penang state government and not feel threatened. Furthermore, it was only 3 days ago that the “PM hailed the government’s interfaith sub-committee as key in creating a common understanding and having constructive dialogue among the different religious groups in the country.”(Malaysian Insider, 14, Feb 2011)

In light of his comments it is highly regrettable and irresponsible of the Government to allow the
Utusan to make such a racially provoking statement against the non-muslim portfolio established by a Pakatan Rakyat state.

It is the responsibility of everyone to promote greater comprehension and tolerance of all the different faiths in Malaysia. We must not resort to racial and religious politics in order to fulfill political aims.

Dr Xavier Jayakumar

17 February 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 13.2.2011.

Penang Willing To Be Briefed By Pemandu To Co-ordinate And Co-operate On Successfully Implementing The 95 Entry Points Projects(EPPs) In Penang Over The Next 10 Years.

Penang welcomes the assurances in yesterday’s Bernama by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department or Pemandu that Penang has not been left out of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). The Penang state government is willing to meet and be briefed by Pemandu on the 95 entry points projects (EPPs) to co-ordinate and co-operate on its successful implementation in Penang over the next 10 years within 11 National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs).

So far the state government had not received any details of where the 95 EPPs supposed to be located in Penang and what type of EPPs are they. Apart from the Tourism and the Electrical & Electronic NKEA revealed by Pemandu, what are the other NKEA identified?

Neither did Pemandu revealed the amount of investments investments, the increase in per capita Gross National Income(GNI) nor the number of jobs expected to be created. In contrast, when 19 EPP was unveiled last month, Pemandu disclosed that a total of RM67 billion in investments would generate a per capita GNI of RM 35 billion and generate 35,000 jobs.

It is wrong for Pemandu to reject the proportional approach to determine the amount of investment that a state is entitled to. If the ETP is a focused, inclusive and sustainable initiative that will transform Malaysia into a high-income nation by 2020, then there must be at least one EPP in each of the 13 states in Malaysia, excluding Federal Territory. Not a single EPP out of the 19 EPP announced last month was located in Penang.

How can the ETP be inclusive and share the wealth of the country with all segments of the population, whether urban or rural, regardless of gender and in all regions, if Penang is left out? Further how can the 95 EPPs promised for Penang over the next 10 years be successfully implemented and completed without the co-operation of the state government?

The Penang state government should be fully informed and not kept in the dark. To only know through the media that there are 95 EPPs over the next 10 years after being compelled to highlight publicly the perceived neglect of Penang is distressing and does not lend confidence to its professional execution. Execution is key and requires full disclosure which not only promotes transparency but also engagement with all stakeholders. The Penang people has a right to know the full details of the 95 EPPs promised, and not see it being wrapped up in some mysterious dark secrets.


Heritage George Town celebrates

A stroll down the streets of inner George Town will instantaneously sweep anyone away into the bygone era and indulge them the kaleidoscope of nostalgic feel, charm and reminiscence that only few would have experienced firsthand. Known as the Chinatown of Penang, she is nestled within the bustling city that surrounds it; unperturbed by the modern structures and recently acquired fashionable lifestyles that stand alongside these quaint but characteristic architecture.

And though it might be just too simplistic to brush it off as just an old and forgotten part of town, the once famous trading post of the East is surely regaining its lustre and notoriety with scurrying activities once again. Even more so as George Town was declared as a UNESCO Heritage Site since three years ago.

The vicinity around Armenian Street and Cannon Street sprang to life the past weekend as George Town hosted its annual Chinese New Year cultural and heritage celebrations. Antiquated rows of pre-war buildings line the narrow streets – some already restored and refurbished and some still as rickety and dilapidated.

Occupants of these heritage houses moved out when the Rent Control Act was repealed in 2000. The Rent Control Act states that under no circumstances should these heritage buildings be demolished or altered in any way; and as this act also prohibited owners from raising the rental, these buildings were poorly maintained for economic reasons. However, as soon as the act was repealed, property prices just kept going up and are worth very much more than it was before.

Clan Associations too opened their doors and brightened up in anticipation of receiving visitors from all around the world. Strings of Chinese lanterns lit up the entire area and stage performances were held at every street corner. Cultural dances, cultural exhibitions, drums, gongs, and an array hawker fare kept revellers busy and entertained.

One of the Clan houses exhibited Traditional Chinese medical practices like acupuncture and pulse points. Another Clan house held singing competition and booths showcasing traditional foods like “Kong Th’ng” (sugar-candy) and “Muar Chee” (sweetened glutinous rice covered with grounded nuts).

Chinese characters in costumes played out their parts in theatrical scenes. There were also facemask changing performances – a very specialized and closely guarded secret that was once performed only by those who learnt it in sworn secrecy.

Another interesting traditional Chinese art that was eye-catching was of women getting their faces cleaned using tightened strings. The therapist used two loops of strings and entangles them in a way that coaxes the strings into a propeller sort, and then places them onto the customer’s face to clear away the dead cells.

Along the way, some makeshift stalls sold custom-made beaded shoes that were worn by the early settlers, also known as the Straits Chinese. There were also craftsmen who sold carved signboards. A rabbit corner was also purposely set up as this happens to be the ‘year of the rabbit’ according the Chinese calendar. The fortune teller added to the authenticity of the celebration.

At the youth’s corner, children dressed up as human chess pieces moved about in a game of Chinese Chess. There were also martial arts performances, lion dances and dragon dances.

“Cai Sin Yah” or God or Prosperity paraded the streets giving out red packets – as a gesture of good luck; and rabbit mascots too, to give out sweets to passers-by, especially children.

A mock traditional Chinese wedding complete with its sedan chair was also on display. Curious spectators took turns for the opportunity to sit in the sedan to take photographs.

The people of Penang from all walks of life thronged the usually quite streets and jostled their way around through the huge crowd that turned up that night. Tourists caught unaware of the ongoing festival were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful and colourful display of fireworks that marked the finale of the celebration. The gaiety and carnival-like atmosphere can hardly be missed as the loudspeakers blared music from all sides.

Even as one leaves the carnival, he will be reminded of being transported temporarily back into olden China as the drums, gongs and fireworks grow fainter and fainter into the distance. George Town is truly a living museum.