Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Tale of Two Leaders

Political poisoning of Malaysian minds has incapacitated their inherent abilities to do undertake political analysis. When issues of public interest arise, all it takes is one brazen leader to give a red herring response such as:

“Who is asking? We have shown many times that the trips taken by the present officers (cost) much (less) that in the past (under BN rule prior to 2008).

Then, most are silenced, cowering in fear that they might have offended that leader. Before you begin your retort, allow me to share with you a tale of two leaders.

Once upon a time in early November 2013, there were two leaders – one from the east (Lim Guan Eng), the other from the West (Jim Lane, Mayor of Scottsdale, Arizona, USA) who went to the 17th annual Inter-Islands Tourism Policy (ITOP) Forum, held from November 6 to 9 in Haikou, Hainan, China. Topics of discussion included how to preserve local island culture while accommodating global tourism.
Jim Lane went alone and his trip was funded by the government of Haikou, Hainan.

Lim Guan Eng went with a 21-member delegation and the Penang state coffers footed the bill.
George Hartz, President of Scottsdale Sister Cities, said that Mayor Jim Lane was given the opportunity to promote Scottsdale tourism at the forum.

According to its official website, Inter-Islands Tourism Policy Forum was founded in 1997 with the attendance of four provincial governments of Bali, Indonesia, Hainan, China, Okinawa, Japan and Jeju, South Korea led by Jeju.

This Forum is aimed at exploring the world tourism market jointly by bring together islands that have cultural sympathy and similar tourism structure and policy. The Forum has grown from four starting member islands to 10 members including Jeju, Hainan, Okinawa, Bali, Southern Province, Canary Islands, Zanzibar, Hawaii, Phuket and Cebu.

Note: Penang is NOT a member of ITOP. Hence, is it justified that the 21-member delegation of Penang government officers, their spouses and business representatives visited China costing RM93,910 at the state’s expense?

Whether or not BN spent more or less during their tenure is irrelevant. It is merely pulling wool over our eyes so that we cannot see the discrepancies therein.

The fact remains that the state paid the 21-member delegation to attend the forum and did the following:

1. They signed a MOU on establishment of Friendship Cities between Penang and the Hainan provincial government. (done by the delegation)

2. They renewed the Friendship Cities relationship between Xiamen and Penang on the 20th anniversary of this scheme. (done by the delegation)

3. Lim paid two courtesy calls on the government, leaders of industry, the Xiamen mayor and the Hainan governor. (done by ONE person – LGE)

4. Lim delivered a talk at the ITOP Forum themed ‘Globalization and Localization: Opportunity and Challenge for Island Tourism Development’. (done by ONE person – LGE)

Look at the record of achievement for that trip and answer the following question objectively. Is it justified that Lim Guan Eng needed 21 members, including his spouse at the expense of the state government whereas Jim Lane went ALONE at the invitation of the Haikou government who paid for his trip?

Who can forget his famous justification for his wife’s presence by his statement whereby “We feel very lonely without our spouses, we go with spouse is a problem, don’t go with spouse also a problem.”
Does such a statement reflect a person’s political and emotional maturity?

Think. Why did Haikou pay for Mayor Jim Lane’s participation at the ITOP forum? Food for thought.
For your information, Scottsdale has been recognized today as Arizona’s 2013 eCity by tech giant Google. “Scottsdale’s growth and innovation in e-commerce is an example that other cities across the state can strive to replicate,” said Scott Levitan, Google’s director of small business engagement, in a statement. “Google is proud to recognize this growing entrepreneurial spirit and the role it plays in creating jobs and sustaining local economies.”

Apart from the UNESCO Heritage listing for Penang (which has nothing to do with current state government), what international accolades have Lim and his team won for Penang? Any results for all the hot air more-than-a-mouthful theme of Penang As An International And Intelligent City Is Leveraged On Building A Liveable City That Attracts Human Talent And Formulates People-Centric Policies That Transforms Penang Into A Developed, Sustainable And Inclusive Economy Without Poverty? Shallow and meaningless words such as these give an empty and hollow ring when we see the congestion in Penang and the rising property prices which have prevented real Penang kia from owning homes in the state. Instead, we see foreigners, especially those from another island, who are happily (in Monopoly style) taking over shopping malls, hawker centres, even properties in heritage areas, and of course not forgetting the many high-rise luxurious condominiums that few can even dream of owning at all!

Finally, does it need an expenditure of RM93,910 for the ITOP and to attend the 20th anniversary celebration of the establishment of sister cities between Penang and Xiamen in Xiamen? Is Xiamen really so important to Penang? Penang is not even listed in Wikipedia’s listing for Xiamen.
In fact, if you were to Google for PENANG AND XIAMEN, what will Google show you? The Balance of Trade in both states? Nope. Merely flights and cheap tickets from Penang to Xiamen. Now what does that tell you?

Analyze the objectives of the ITOP forum which include learning about newly emerged trends in world tourism industry, enhancing the relationship within the world’s Islands, broadening the network which plays significant role in promoting the region as world’s best tourist destination. These are roles played by the Ministry of Tourism! Look at the list in the delegation. Should they have been there?

I am confounded at the way in which one person can lead so many by their noses via red herrings and arrogant responses to justify a meaningless trip by so many when clearly only ONE person should go. All that hullabaloo protest by Lim Guan Eng serves to point us in the one direction as to the real reason for the trip. Cut the crap and quit pulling wool over our eyes. Justify why such a big delegation was sent at the state’s expense for an event that is quite narrow in scope and overlaps with the Tourism ministry’s portfolio.

 By Datuk Huan Cheng Guan

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