BUTTERWORTH: Penang is balancing development between the island and the mainland, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.
He said regardless of which side the 1.6 million people in Penang lived, they would be part of the state’s progress.
“What we do on the island, we will do on the mainland as well.
“To be a smart city, we want the whole state to progress together so we can achieve that goal faster,” he told reporters at the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) building in Bandar Perda, Bukit Mertajam.
Seberang Prai, the mainland side of Penang, has seen less rapid development compared with the island for decades.
But mega infrastructure projects like the Second Penang Bridge, the growth of industrial areas, the Penang Science Park, and new residential and commercial developments around the mainland, in areas like Batu Kawan and Bukit Mertajam, have in recent years livened things up on the mainland.
MPSP and Think City are also working together to revive heritage buildings in areas like Butterworth. The council is also planning to launch a pocket park programme that will see back alleys beautified with murals after Chinese New Year.
Making the mainland more interesting, international events like the Butterworth Fringe Festival (BFF), which is part of the highly-acclaimed George Town Festival, have also been introduced in Seberang Prai.
“Through BFF, we are bringing art and culture to the mainland. This proves that we are balancing development between the island and the mainland,” Lim said.
“BFF is no doubt an international event, featuring international artistes. Some have never come here before to perform. We are committed in bringing international acts to the mainland.
“It is not just talk. We have introduced several festivals in Seberang Prai, including the hot air balloon fest in Jawi.”
BFF, which is now in its third year, is happening this Aug 12 and 13 at Jalan Jeti Lama in Butterworth.
Lim praised local businesses and artistes supporting the event, saying that investments in art and culture would benefit Penang in the long run.
He also urged MPSP to intensify promotions for BFF and other activities to the people to make sure they were aware of the events.
Meanwhile, in his Chinese New Year message, Lim reminded the people of Penang’s achievements in attracting tourists and investors, recording budget surpluses annually, cutting state debt by 90%, boosting its reserves and giving welfare aid to the people.
Lim pledged that Penang would continue to build on its successes through several major projects.
Among them are the RM220 million spent on flood mitigation; teaching of science, technology engineering and maths, helped by the opening of Malaysia’s first digital library; and the proposed RM27 billion Penang Public Transport Master Plan, which is pending federal approval.