Closing Ceremony of Penang World Cleanup Day 2023

Speech by YAB Tuan Chow Kon Yeow, Penang Chief Minister cum Chairman of Penang Green Council on 30 September 2023 at Auditorium A, KOMTAR. 

Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us at the Closing Ceremony of Penang World Cleanup Day 2023.

Today has been a remarkable day, where we collectively demonstrated our unwavering commitment to the environment and our beloved state of Penang. As the Chief Minister of Penang and the Chairman of the Penang Green Council, I stand before you to express my deepest appreciation and admiration for the extraordinary effort and dedication shown by each and every one of you in this endeavour.

In just a few hours this morning, we witnessed a remarkable display of unity and determination.  Volunteers from corporate and industry sectors, converged at 5 locations across our state. Armed with determination and the desire to make a difference, you have successfully gathered an impressive 374.3 kilograms of waste, with 78.16% categorized as general waste and 21.84% as recyclables. This embodies the power of collective action and the impact we can achieve when we work together towards a common goal.

The collaboration between Penang Green Council and Let’s Do It World, a global environmental organization, on this World Cleanup Day is a testament to the reach and influence that a collective effort can have on a global scale. We are part of a worldwide movement that began in 2018 and has grown to include 197 countries and over 71 million volunteers. Today, we have not only cleaned our immediate surroundings but have also made a mark on the global stage, raising awareness about waste mismanagement and the urgent need for sustainable practices.

However, it is essential to recognize that our battle against waste is far from over. Malaysia has faced significant challenges regarding waste management, particularly in the context of single-use plastics. Since 2017, Malaysia has been the world’s leading importer of plastic waste, and one of the world’s largest producers of plastic products since 2000, with over 1,300 plastic manufacturers operating within its borders. Malaysians also generate an average of 0.85 to 1.5 kilograms of waste per person per day, a staggering figure that calls for immediate action.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a state, Penang has been proactive in championing green initiatives. We have been at the forefront of promoting environmentally friendly policies and practices. Initiatives such as the Penang Green Agenda, Penang Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Taskforce (PREET), and Penang Waste Segregation at Source Policy are clear examples of our dedication to creating a sustainable and eco-friendly environment.

One of our proudest achievements was being the first state in Malaysia to implement ‘No Free Plastic Bag Day’ in 2009, followed by ‘No Plastic Bag Day’ in 2019. This pioneering step led to a nationwide ‘No Free Plastic Bags’ campaign, reinforcing the impact we can have when we set an example.

Penang’s economic success story is also intertwined with our dedication to sustainable development. In 2022, we recorded a remarkable GDP growth of 13.1%, surpassing the national average. This success is mirrored in our thriving manufacturing sector, which received RM13.7 billion in investments and 135 projects, making us a significant contributor to Malaysia’s economic growth.

The Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles have emerged as a transformative framework, guiding businesses, investors, and communities towards a sustainable and responsible future. With over 300 multinational corporations and 3,000 small and medium-sized enterprises, Penang boasts a robust cluster of sectors and a well-established supply chain ecosystem, ideal for driving ESG initiatives.

In 2022, we embarked on the Penang Green Industry (PGI) initiative to transform our state into a hub of sustainable manufacturing. Leveraging our established supply chain ecosystem, PGI aims to foster collaboration within the Electrical and Electronics (E&E) industry. Through this initiative, we strive to align our state with the Penang2030 vision of becoming ‘A Family-Focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation’.

Over the past three years, this vision has yielded positive improvements within our local manufacturing sector under theme B1 of the Penang2030 vision. And I would like to take this opportunity, to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all involved for their efforts and contributions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The success we have achieved in both our economic growth and our environmental initiatives is a testament to what can be accomplished when government, industry, and the community come together with a shared purpose.

But let me reiterate that our work is far from done. We must continue to build on our achievements and strive for even greater progress. Our commitment to environmental sustainability is not just about statistics and economic growth; it is about ensuring a better future for the generations to come.

Hence, as we move forward, let us carry the spirit of today’s event into our daily lives, making sustainable choices, and working together to protect the natural beauty of Penang. Together, we can ensure that future generations inherit a cleaner, greener, and more prosperous Penang.

In closing, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all the volunteers, organizers, and sponsors who made Penang World Cleanup Day 2023 a resounding success. Your dedication and hard work have made a tangible difference, and I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together.

With that, thank you all, and may we continue to work hand in hand for a brighter and more sustainable future.

Thank you

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