New Straits Times, December 21, 2010
GEORGE TOWN: The Federal Government is set to make Penang the preferred hub in the region and several development strategies designed to stimulate the economy and provide jobs have been lined up to achieve the goal.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said 10 major infrastructure projects had been identified, including the expansion of the Penang International Airport, Penang Port and the Penang Bridge, construction of the second Penang bridge, and the creation of a multimedia super corridor in Penang.
He said the initiatives would not only facilitate economic activities but also support the national objective to increase tourism revenue from RM53 billion last year to RM168 billion by 2020.
"I believe Penang has many unique advantages that position it well to become a hub for the Northern Corridor and Growth Triangle of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
"Penang already offers the highest economic density and shortest distance to market for a city in the growth triangle."
Najib said this before performing the ground-breaking for expansion works for the Penang International Airport.
The RM250 million project, which is part of the RM6 billion fiscal stimulus package announced by the government last year, marks yet another milestone in the country's aviation history.
The airport's expansion will increase passenger capacity, improve facilities and provide a higher level of comfort to airlines and passengers.
Najib said equipping terminals with modern facilities and delivering a high-level of customer service were vital to portray a favourable image of Malaysia.
Najib said the timing of the project could not have been better.
He said the ability to offer high-quality, reliable air travel and facilities served as a catalyst to attract trade and investments.
"This supports employment and wealth generation, which in turn will help fuel Malaysia's drive to become a high-income nation.
"It is clear that the major expansion of the airport terminal will not only benefit the region, but will also be instrumental in helping us achieve the goals in the New Economic Model."
Najib said the government also anticipated the need to upgrade the airport's cargo terminal.
He said the Penang International Airport already handled more than 30 per cent of Malaysia's total manufacturing exports and was the second busiest entry point for international visitors to the country.
Work on the project is expected to be completed in mid-2012.
It consists of three main packages.
The first package involves upgrading of the main infrastructure, utility and related buildings while the second package involves upgrading of the main terminal building.
The third package involves upgrading facilities at the airside areas.
Najib said all 39 airports in the country would be further developed.
Present were Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Ministers in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha, Malaysia Airports chairman Tan Sri Dr Aris Othman and Malaysia Airports managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad.
Kong said there had been an increase in passenger and cargo traffic in the first 11 months of this year.
About 52.12 million passengers and 852,043,489kg cargo passed through the country's airports this year, an increase of 13.5 per cent and 16.8 per cent respectively compared with last year.