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Penang should aim to be an international innovation hub — Lee Kah Choon

GEORGE TOWN (July 20): Penang should aim to be an international innovation hub apart from being a global manufacturing centre in the electrical and electronics industry. 

Datuk Seri Lee Kah Choon, who is special investment advisor to the Chief Minister of Penang, said to achieve this vision, the state should set up a billion-ringgit industry investment fund to invest in innovating businesses and nurture homegrown entrepreneurs to manufacture globally competitive products.

“For a Penang global innovation hub to succeed, the current talent pool is clearly too small.

“A net growth of 30,000 knowledge workers per year to the state’s talent pool is a must,” he said in a statement today.

Lee added that Penang is well-positioned to seize the opportunities brought by the pandemic and trade war by tapping into the disrupted supply chains that were previously closed.

“However, time is of the essence as this window of opportunity is closing fast,” he said.

Moving forward, Lee said regionalisation would be more prevalent such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that involves the United States, Canada and Mexico; as well as China with adjacent Southeast Asia countries such as Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Lee said the international border lockdown initially opened up opportunities for Malaysia to tap into the disrupted supply chain but the prolonged border lockdown would shut the window of opportunity for Malaysian companies as other alternatives are found and engaged.

“The ’Made in China 2025’ strategy is a great opportunity for Malaysian companies to be part of the supply chain but it will become a serious threat to Malaysia if we miss the boat.

“Once the supply chain and ecosystem are concretised, it will be difficult for outsiders to penetrate later,” he added.

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