First and foremost allow me to express what a pleasure it is for me to be here this evening with all of you. I would like to thank the management of the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching for according me the honour of launching Sarawak’s latest landmark.
The setting up of this world-class convention centre comes at an opportune time, as Malaysia seeks to capture a bigger share of the global ‘’Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions Industry’’ or M.I.C.E market. The International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) statistics show, that a total of 400,000 conferences and exhibitions are held worldwide every year at the total outlay of US$280 billion.
Towards realising this objective we have established in 2009 MyCEB the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau under Tourism Malaysia. I am happy to note that the Sarawak state government has also taken a pro active stance by establishing the Sarawak Convention Bureau or SCB.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
2009 was a tough year for global tourism nevertheless we can be proud that Malaysia was one of seven destinations that actually experienced visitor growth, an accomplishment that I’m sure has come about through careful planning and hard work. Malaysia as we all know is a great ‘value for money’ destination, in a World Economic Forum ranking Malaysia is placed as the fourth most price competitive country in the world for travel in 2009.
In 2009 Malaysia welcomed an estimated 1.18 million business event visitors who spent an estimated RM10.8 billion, this was in a year when the global economy was in crisis and businesses worldwide was making cutbacks.
2010 is a year full of promises, business and consumer confidence have picked up; there is scope for revival among markets which were hard hit in 2009; this coupled with the measures taken by the MICE sector in managing the volatile market conditions has made the sector stronger and primed for future growth. However, we should not rest on our laurels. Although Malaysia’s prospects have improved, 2010 will still be a demanding year.
In the International Congress & Convention Association 2008 rankings, Malaysia was ranked 32nd in the world by the number of association meetings that was held here, and 8th place within the Asia Pacific region. We are confident that with the combined efforts of all stakeholders led by MyCEB – our international and regional rankings will improve further in the future. I would like to see that Malaysia emerge as one of the top 5 preferred destinations within the Asia Pacific region by 2015.
Malaysia certainly has the all the inherent ingredients to be successful such as growing accessibility, competitive pricing, new leading edge infrastructure, multicultural attractions and professional expertise. To remain competitive, we need collaborative efforts between government and industry to bid for and secure major events, and in facilitating successful events when they are being hosted in Malaysia.
The government realises that Malaysia needs further investments in the areas of marketing and support for MICE events, the continued development of transport and infrastructure around existing venues to improve accessibility and the creation of more self contained event precincts. Nevertheless, it is not just about the hardware; Malaysia will also need continuing education and professional development in the industry to ensure that a high level of standard is maintained.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sarawak is a state full of potential and promise. Nevertheless potential and promise alone will come to nought if there is an absent of visionary and dynamic leadership to act as the catalyst in bringing that potential and promise to fruition. Progress does not occur in a vacuum for it takes proper planning and careful implementation to bring the full benefit to every Sarawakians. I am glad that under the leadership of Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud this is being vigorously addressed.
What kind of future that we seek for Malaysia? This is the perennial question for every new administration, it is important to note that the same political party the Barisan Nasional (National Front) and before that the Alliance that have formed the successive governments of this nation since independence. This makes every administration a continuity of the one preceding.
It is therefore in this very continuity and the ability of every administration to build upon past achievements that our very strength rests. As Prime Minister I am proud to note that I stand on the shoulders of giants, I am thankful to all my predecessors that came before me who blazed the path that I now tread.
Malaysia aspires to be a fully developed nation. A nation with some of the best institutions, quality schools and healthcare and safe neighbourhoods, a nation where you would want to start and raise a family, choose as a place of learning and teaching, as a place to start a business, as a place to harness your creativity and innovation or simply as a place to smell the roses, all the things that makes life worth living.
In making this vision a reality we have recently laid down four important pillars that will be the thrust of our effort to achieve this vision. First and foremost is the overarching guiding principle of 1Malaysia, People’s First, Performance Now.
Since the administration of the first Prime Minister national unity has been the overriding objective of the government of the day, without national unity all other national objectives will neither be possible nor sustainable in a multiracial nation such as ours. This guiding principle cannot be looked at in isolation it must be taken as a whole. Therefore the second and third leg of this guiding principle is equally pertinent that of people’s first and performance now as it is the lynchpin upon which government of the people, by the people and for the people derived its’ legitimacy.
Secondly, the government transformation program or GTP that seeks to make government more effective, responsive, accountable and transparent. The day and age where governments knows all and knows best is long over. A new narrative must be found in managing the dynamic relationship between the government and its citizens. Globally this is the most comprehensive and systematic reform ever attempted to redefine and reinvent the role of government.
Third the new economic model as the roadmap that will propel Malaysia into the future, we have since independence successfully transformed our nation from an agriculture economy into a modern industrial economy. The NEM seeks to put us back on track in our forward momentum. We cannot afford to fall behind the curve in the pace, breadth and depth of change and reform lest we become another victim of the middle income trap.
Last but not least the Tenth Malaysia Plan. This current installation of the five year development plan series is the first building block of the New Economic Model. It has been proven than the last nine series of national development plans have brought prosperity and a higher standard of living to the people, it is an end result that we wish to continue.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ensuring that all these pillars are implemented is the challenge of our time, a challenge that requires our undivided commitment and dedication. Every generation will have to face a new set of challenges as the world around them evolves, let us therefore as the torchbearer of this generation muster our resolve and meet these challenges head on and not abdicate it to future generations, let us get on with this task with all of our capacity and ability in the service of the nation we love.
In conclusion I would like to congratulate the people of Sarawak and the BCCK team on their effort in making the official launching of this stunning new convention centre a reality. On that note, with the recitation of “Bismillahirrahmanirrahim”, it is now my pleasure to officially launch Borneo Convention Centre Kuching.