2016 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING PRESIDENT SPEECH
PENANG CHINESE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
2016 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Speech by Dato’ Seri Choot Ewe Seng
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to all PCCC General Committee and enthusiastic members for allocating their precious time to attend today’s AGM. I also wish to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to every one of you for your cooperation and support over the year to assist us accomplishing our activities and job smoothly. It is really appreciated.
When Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce moved back to our Heritage Building located at No. 3, Light Street on 21 March 2015, we also hosted a grand Opening Ceremony cum Members’ Day, which was officiated by YAB Mr. Lim Guan Eng, the Chief Minister of Penang. The distinguished guests including Members of Parliament, State Assemblymen, Consuls in Penang, Presidents and representatives of ACCCIM and its Constituent Chambers, PJCC and PCCC members were invited to witness this historic moment. I would like to thank all PCCC Directors and members once again. With your contributions and efforts, PCCC building has been restored to its former glory.
The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia, Dr. Huang Huikang visited the Chamber and exchange views with PCCC Directors on 24 October 2015. We are very pleased that China officially opened a Consulate Office in Penang on 22 December 2015. This move will help to promote cultural exchanges and economic & trade ties between China and Penang. We also hope that the Consulate Office could process the application of China visa and provide more efficient and convenient services for the people in Northern Malaysia.
Regarding the economic outlook for year 2016, we noted that after Brexit poll International Monetary Fund in its July 2016 update to the World Economic Outlook has revised down its global growth expectations for 2016 and 2017. ACCCIM Survey Report on Economic Situation of Malaysia for the 2nd Half of 2015 also shows that the Chinese business community is generally more pessimistic about the economic outlook for years 2016 and 2017.
Currently the business environment is harsh reflecting the impact of foreign and domestic factors such as crude oil prices continue to slump and the depreciation of ringgit. The implementation of GST helps to boost government revenue. Hence, we hope that corporate tax and individual income tax could be reduced in order to lower the cost of doing business. The tax revenue should be used in the national construction and development, stimulate domestic economic activities, creating more opportunities to improve and enhance the people’s standard of living.
We welcome Bank Negara’s recent move to reduce the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) by 25 basis points, i.e. from 3.25 % to 3%. We opine that this “pre-emptive” action of Bank Negara could bring some confidence to the downturn market.
Currently Malaysia lacks of a fixed and transparent foreign labour policies. The SMEs and manufacturers who are facing a shortage of foreign workers are at a loss when the foreign labour policies change repeatedly. In view of this, we urge the Government to adopt a clearer and consistent foreign labour policy which is in line with local development in order to solve the foreign labour shortage problem faced by SMEs.
There are many illegal foreign workers stranded in Malaysia. The Government should put up a fixed and long term plan to legalize them through transparent and simplified procedure. In this way we can solve the problem of labour shortage.
The minimum wage for employees in West Malaysia has been increased to RM1,000 per month starting 1 July 2016. In East Malaysia the monthly minimum wage is RM920. The cost of doing business is thus increased. We hope that businessmen could look for other countermeasures to overcome this problem. Instead of relying too much on human labour, they should restructure their business by upgrading technology to improve productivity. Meanwhile, we hope that the Government could provide technical training to assist enterprises so that they could survive in this environment.
Penang State Government’s plan to implement the ambitious RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) and the undersea tunnel project is a courageous decision. After the completion of these far-sighted mega-projects, it will not only solve the traffic congestion problem, but will also stimulate the economic development of Penang State and Penang people will benefit from the economic vitality and flexibility. This will provide a solid foundation for Penang’s future growth into an international city.
The Penang International Airport has reached its maximum capacity of 6.5 million passengers per annum and needs to be expanded as soon as possible. Since the investment and construction of airport will often bring very substantial direct and indirect economic returns, we hope that the Federal Government and Penang State Government could work hand in hand to commence the Penang International Airport expansion project for it to cater for more flights and accommodate more passengers. In return it will increase revenue for both the nation and Penang State.
Recently a number of multinational companies in Penang closed their plants or implement mass layoffs resulting in job losses. We hope that the State Government could attach importance to this matter and try to seek more appropriate strategy to solve the problem. The government could introduce good project planning and bring in new ideas to promote investment with the cooperation of private sectors.
In this new era, electronic information technology changes rapidly. With the rise of mobile internet, e-commerce has become a worldwide trend and it has created huge business opportunities. In this regard, we hope that the relevant authorities could strengthen planning in advance. They should nurture more e-commerce talents by conducting training program. Penang State could explore the halal market by involving in global halal e-commerce business to enhance our own competitiveness.
Finally, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your invaluable support and presence. I wish everyone good health, continued success and prosperity. Thank you.