Monday June 18, 2012
An international city for all
IN its eagerness to attain international city status for Penang, the state government must ensure equal opportunities are given to Penangites of all races to excel in the various fields.
State Legislative Assembly speaker Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain said as Penang has a diverse population, the various races have important roles to play to further enrich the state’s culture, arts, tradition, heritage and economy.
“When we promote Penang as an international city, we must not forget that our stakeholders comprise people of different races.
“We must engage with all of them, so that we can equally promote them and their respective communities,” he said after opening Penang Institute’s Forum Nusantara 5, titled ‘Syed Sheikh Al-Hadi: Stimulator of the Enlightenment Movement in Malaysia?’ at the Seberang Prai Municipal Council hall in Bandar Perda on Saturday.
Abdul Halim said the promotion of culture, arts, tradition and education should not be limited to only a particular race or religion only, as it might not reflect the multi-ethnic composition in the state.
He said equal job opportunities must be given to all races, in both the civil service and private sector, at all levels.
He stressed that equal opportunities should also be given to the people in terms of infrastructure development as well as places to live, do business and to visit.
Abdul Halim noted that the Penang Institute’s Forum Nusantara series was a good effort towards restoring the glory of Penang in its early years.
“Penang was once an important meeting point for trade, education, culture, arts and religion, which involved the Malays, Chinese and Indians.
“As such, we must educate Penangites on the importance of bringing back the glory of Penang, which is in line with the state’s vision towards turning it into an international city,” he said.
Penang Institute chief executive officer Zairil Khir Johari said the late Syed Sheikh Syed Ahmad Al-Hadi, a renowned author, thinker and reformist who spent several years in Penang, played a pivotal role in turning Penang into a ‘Centre of Education Excellence’ in the early 20th century.
He said the Malacca-born religious scholar was instrumental in establishing the Al-Iqbal Madrasah in Singapore in 1907, the Al-Hadi Madrasah in Malacca in 1915 and the Al-Mashoor Madrasah in Penang in 1926.