Leaders discuss initiatives in handling Covid-19 crisis


THE Penang government was lauded by party and state leaders for being prepared and proactive in its fight against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.


The leaders from Selangor and Negri Sembilan, as well as PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, had a one-hour virtual discussion with Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today.


Anwar said that Penang had initiated the preparations, stimulus packages and communications even before the announcement by the Federal Government.


“The Penang government provides various assistance to the people – those tested positive for Covid-19 and families of those succumbing to the virus are receiving financial aid.


“Those on welfare aid, taxi drivers, e-hailing drivers and even trishaw peddlers are also taken care of. The state government also provided financial aid for mosques and suraus in Penang.


“These initiatives taken by the Penang government may seem small to the rich; but they mean a lot to the poor and needy. I am very proud of Penang government’s achievements,” Anwar said.


A screen grab of the meeting – (from top left, clockwise) Chow, Amirudin, Aminuddin and Anwar.


Anwar said that the initiatives were well-received by the people as they had touched many lives.


“Those are the facts; unlike the constant allegations against the Penang government,” he said.


Anwar also congratulated the Penang government for establishing Digital Penang.


“The setting up of Digital Penang is timely. The ‘new normal’ that many people are talking about is a slogan.


“We have to speed up the digitalisation process for it to be applied as our ‘new normal’,” Anwar added.


Earlier, Chow spoke about the state’s 3Cs strategy (Control, Communicate, Contain) to combat the Covid-19 infection.


Chow having a virtual discussion with the leaders.


“We set up the war room with all the relevant agencies, especially the state Health Department, police, Rela, the two local councils, and Civil Defence Force (APM) to control the outbreak.


“The war room is our command centre for statewide planning as well as to control the spread of the virus.


“Penang has also launched the ‘Penang Lawan Covid-19’ campaign on March 16 before the movement control order (MCO) announcement.


“Our principle is to be transparent to the public with the latest updates. We set up all kinds of communication channels – website, Facebook page, Telegram channel, phone hotlines, and billboards – to broadcast our messages.


“We also worked with medical doctors to produce informative videos in Bahasa Melayu, English, Hokkien, Cantonese and Tamil to ensure that people learn how to protect themselves from the Covid-19 virus.


“I held daily video conferences via Facebook Live during the first and second phases of the MCO to provide the latest information pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic. I also shared the state’s plans and took questions from the public and journalists during the Facebook Live sessions.


“Thirdly, Penang acted quickly to initiate a RM20 million relief package on March 17, a day before the announcement of the MCO.


“We increased the amount of the relief package to RM75 million after further engagement with various segments in the society,” he said.


Chow said that the state was ready to aid targeted groups that are impacted by the pandemic.


He also spoke about the new thinking framework that would strengthen the small and medium-sized enterprises in Penang.


“We have set up Digital Penang last year (2019) to be a catalyst for the state’s economic digitalisation. We are targeting to establish the first Digital Free Trade Zone in Penang by next year.


“We will also strengthen the state’s position in the medical equipment sector and will redirect the electrical and electronics (E&E) sector by diversifying the manufacturing products; from consumer electronic products to industrial application products, such as telecommunications system, Industry 4.0 equipment, and medical equipment.


“Penang will also expand its global shared services sector. We have over 60 companies that are involved in this sector – providing 12,000 high-valued jobs.


“We have directed investPenang to form a ‘Penang Economic Next Normal’ task force to identify and develop new strategies to attract new investments. The task force must also study the direction for the state, country, regional and global economic development,” he said.


Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari congratulated Penang for being one of the champions in attracting investors.


“Penang and Selangor are among the largest recipients of investments in the manufacturing sector for 2019,” he said.


According to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), Penang recorded RM16.85 billion of total approved manufacturing investment in 2019, behind Selangor’s RM17 billion.


Penang topped in manufacturing foreign direct investment (FDI), attracting RM15 billion.


Amirudin and Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun both presented their respective state’s initiatives to help the rakyat.


The meeting ended with Anwar extending his Ramadan greeting to all Muslims in the country.


Story by Christopher Tan

Pix by Alvie Cheng