AGM Speech by President Dato' Seri Choot Ewe Seng on 5 June 2015
First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all PCCC enthusiastic members for attending today’s AGM. I also want to express my appreciation to all the members and Directors who have given their full support to all the activities organized by PCCC in the past year. Your active participation and full support has pushed the Chamber to progress steadily and operate smoothly.
The past year is a milestone for Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce as the refurbishment work of PCCC Heritage Building has been completed and the Chamber’s office moved back to its own premises on 21 March 2015.
I am glad to inform that we have organized numerous activities in the past year. In view of GST is a new tax system and many businessmen do not understand its operation, the Chamber has organized several seminars on GST to assist them. Besides, during the last 3 months in year 2014, i.e. from October to December 2014, PCCC also provided consultation and assisted members to register for GST so that they could adapt to this new tax regime.
In view of housing and construction industry is one of the main driving forces for the national economic growth, the Chamber has established a new working committee, namely the Property Development, Construction and Management Committee (PDCMC) last year with the objective to uphold the interest of the stakeholders in the property industry in Penang as well as to promote interaction amongst them. PDCMC in collaboration with the PCCC representatives in MBPP & MPSP, assisted the budget hotel and lodging house operators to apply for hotel business license during the legitimisation program last year.
Meanwhile, the Chamber also deeply involves in performing its corporate social responsibility. We adopted and upgraded the “Caring Park” located at Anson Road with an objective of making Penang greener and providing a peaceful and harmonious environment for the public. In December last year when the most severe flood in the last 40 years hit the 3 East Coast States, the Chamber responded promptly by donating flood relief fund to assist victims in the East Cost flood stricken states and conveyed our sympathy and solicitude to the people there.
Besides, the Chamber also organizes various seminars or activities regularly to strengthen interaction, cooperation and bring benefits to members and businessman.
GST has come into force for 2 months since its first implementation on 1 April 2015. Government started the GST with 6% which is considered as high. In view of the current sluggish market, rising inflation, price hike, slow in domestic consumption and economic activities, we hope that the Government will maintain the 6% standard rate for a period of 5 years as well as reduce the corporate and personal income tax to alleviate the burden of enterprises and the people.
The Federal Government announced the 11th Malaysia Plan on 21 May 2015 to outline the strategies of development for the country from 2016 to 2020. In this regard, we regret to note that Penang has been sidelined. The 11MP only identified Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu as “growth catalyst cities”, whereas the cities in northern Malaysia are totally neglected. Penang is the locomotive for economic development in northern Malaysia. With its existing foundation, Penang is able to effectively drive the economic growth.
I would like to urge the Federal Government to take into economic factors as the main consideration when initiating any development program. In this regard, the tax revenue collected by the Federal Government from the people and businesses of Penang ranked third totalling around 6.3 billion ringgit last year. Hence, we hope that Penang could be included in the list of “growth catalyst cities” under 11MP.
On 10 March 2015, the Yang DiPertuan Agong proclaimed that George Town was upgraded to City Status effective 1 January 2015. We hope that the various facilities and services provided by the Local Government can be upgraded in line with the elevation of status. Meanwhile, Penang as a famous tourist attraction, hygiene and sanitary is of utmost important, especially “delicious food” is one of the main attractions which appealed strongly to the tourists visiting Penang. In this respect, we urge the Government to pay close attention to the hygiene and sanitation problem, increase manpower or budget, have a good planning, educate the people and find ways to keep the environment clean.
Medical tourism is a rapid-growing sector in Asia. Malaysia’s medical tourism industry has expanded almost double since 2010 and this industry has a promising future and huge growth potential.
We regret to state that lately Penang revenue from medical tourism has been reduced from 60% to 46% of the country total revenue of medical tourism due to competition from other states. Since medical tourism can be a catalyst to stimulate the growth in the state, we urge the State Government plays a constructive role to assist the industry players including providing incentives and assistance. The State Government should work hand in hand with the industry players to improve medical care and upgrade medical equipments regularly, provide quality and diversified medical services and at the same time remain competitive.
We also propose that the State Government could make joint efforts with local medical institutions to organize overseas trips to promote Penang’s medical tourism in order to market for medical tourists from countries like Indonesia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, England and Australia.
I am very pleased that when Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping visited Malaysia in 2013, he had announced that China would establish a Consulate-General office in Penang. Now the permanent Consulate-General office is to be set up in near future, we hope that the Penang Consulate-General office could handle the Chinese visa application so that the people in northern Malaysia do not have to travel a long way to the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur for visa application.
Ultimately, we hope that visa requirements for both countries could be waived totally in order to facilitate bilateral interaction and communication between the peoples and businessman as well as to expand mutual benefits and win for all. After all, the ASEAN and many countries in the world have been exempted from tourist visas when travelling to China. Malaysia and China have elevated bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, but the peoples of both countries still could not enjoy visa-free entry to the country. Hence, I urge the Malaysian and China Governments to waive the visa requirement for travelers’ convenience the soonest possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Chamber has been established for 112 years. I would like to take this opportunity to urge all our members to assist PCCC in its membership drive, strengthen the Chamber’s lineup and enhance the representation and influence of PCCC. At present, the business environment changes rapidly. The implementation of GST is one of the changes in this era, which has forced us to change our ways and methods of doing business. We must keep pace with the time, improve ourselves and adopt a lifelong learning mindset. By doing so, we can stand the test of time. In this regard, the Chamber always focuses on organizing various activities for members to participate and learn new knowledge. We hope that our members will respond positively and take an active part in all PCCC’s activities.
Time passes quickly, the 3-year tenure of the 54th General Committee will end after today’s AGM. In the past three years, we have successfully completed our task with the assistance of all General Committee Members and full support rendered by the members. Without your valuable guidance and support, the Chamber would not have achieved its current scale, prestige and position.
This year is the Election Year of PCCC, the Chamber will elect its new term of General Committee in accordance with the Rules and Constitution. When nomination for election closed on 27 May 2015, all the 51 candidates have returned unopposed. I would like to express my appreciation to the Election Committee led by Mr. Lee Yoke Khay for their assistance in successfully conducting the General Committee Election.
In the new line up of this year’s General Committee, we could find a number of young entrepreneurs joining us. I believe the new blood will bring vigour and vitality to the Chamber and enhance its vibrant development and reform.
Finally, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your invaluable support and presence.