Lim Guan Eng: Penang should have obtained the IC design project

Former Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has purportedly urged current Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow to provide an account of how a lucrative multi-million ringgit integrated circuit (IC) design project slipped through Penang’s grasp and landed in Selangor.

“Penang should have vied for the project in the first place,” he said, reported Free Malaysia Today (FMT).

Lim advocated for a comprehensive post-mortem to ascertain the factors contributing to Penang’s missed opportunity despite its leading position in the sector.

He claimed that the Penang government ought to have invested funds to attract major players in the IC design sector to establish operations in the state because Penang has more than RM2.1 billion in reserves as of 2018.

“Penang should have spent money to woo investors,” said the Bagan MP who is also DAP chairman.

“This will also create thousands of jobs for locals,” Lim added, since Penang’s ideal ecosystem for an IC design hub should have easily attracted investors.

“This is an important investment in our future digital, internet-of-things (IoT) and artificial intelligence technology (capabilities).

“I was told that the Selangor government has pledged RM65 million for the project and it has received another RM60 million in federal funds,” Lim also said.

He added that venture capitalists engaged in the project have committed an additional RM75 million towards the development of the park.

Lim also expressed concern about the possibility of reverse investment.

He was worried tech companies originally based in Penang might begin moving to the Klang Valley due to the emergence of a significant IC design hub there which could trigger a brain drain, as skilled professionals might opt to depart Penang, attracted by the considerably more lucrative salaries offered by companies in the Klang Valley.

In response Chow said that the Penang state government has remained committed and steadfast in securing strategic investments that will bolster Penang’s economic trajectory and solidify its position as a preferred investment destination in the Asia-Pacific region. 

“Penang with its expertise in the manufacturing sector for over five decades has become a ‘natural magnet’ for back-end chip manufacturing and is expected to further integrate with the global chip supply chain in the upcoming decades,” Chow said via a Facebook post.

During the KL20 Summit on Monday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim unveiled ambitious plans to establish the largest integrated circuit design hub in Southeast Asia, in Selangor.

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