Launching of Everyday is No Free Plastic Bags Day
Speech by the Chief Minister of Penang YAB Lim Guan Eng on the Launching of Everyday is No Free Plastic Bags Day on 15 Januari 2011 (Saturday) at Gurney Plaza
Mr Lawrence TEh
Centre Manager of Gurney Plaza
Mr Liew Siew San
President of Wushu, Lion and Dragon Dance Association Penang
Members of the press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ferocious Opposition By Both BN Penang And Malaysian Plastic Manufacturers Association(MPMA) Proves That Penang Will Decide Whether The No Plastic Bag Campaign Can Succeed In Malaysia
On behalf of the Penang State government, I would like to thank Gurney Plaza and Wushu, Lion and Dragon Dance Association Penang their support for the Penang state government "No Free Plastic Bag Day" campaign by organizing this special launching in conjunction with the Wushu Competition tonight. I have come to knowbeen informed that there are 334 shop lots in Gurney Plaza, and 40 out of 76 registered members of Wushu, Lion and Dragon organisations have taken part in the competition today.
Penang was the first state in Malaysia to launch the "No Free Plastic Bag" campaign in July 2009. On 1 January 2011, Penang created history by being the first state to do it every day of the week, every week of the month and every month of the year. If Penang wishes to become an international city then we have to also become a green state. The ruling applies to all hypermarkets, supermarkets, pharmacies, fast-food outlets, nasi kandar restaurants and convenience stores (including petrol stations). Mini-markets and single stores will also be asked to do the same on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays when they renew their yearly licences. However, hawkers and wet markets are exempt from the ruling.
I would like to stress that we are not imposing a total ban on plastic bags. Those who want plastic bags can still purchase them for 20 cents. Proceeds collected will be donated to the State's Partners Against Poverty (PAP) Fund. Until Aug 2010, we have collected RM174,280 for the fund. You can save 20 cents by bring your own shopping bags.
Although Penangites have generally supported this green measure, there are strong objections from certain groups of people who still love their plastic and complain about the inconvenience. For the past 3 years, we have conducted an awareness campaign. However this is clearly not sufficient as our staff at both YB Phee Boon Poh and my office as well as supermarkets get abused and scolded by the public. The number of such abusive calls have increased manifold recently and shows that the NGOs and those who support the "No Free Plastic Bag" campaign has not done enough as compared to the pro-plastic efforts of MPMA and BN Penang. So bad are the calls that my female staff gets scolded until they break down in tears.
The Penang state government is willing to lose popularity to BN Penang to make this campaign a success. But we are not willing to lose the entire "No Free Plastic Bag Campaign" to MPMA and BN Penang. That is why the green movement not just in Penang but also Malaysia must work to make this campaign a success. They must start working by issuing statements and going to the ground to conduct an awareness campaign with the public.
The ferocious campaign carried out by both MPMA and BN Penang proves that Penang will be decisive in determining whether the No Plastic Bag campaign not just in Penang but also in Malaysia. If Penang fails, there is no hope of extending the No Free Plastic Bag Campaign in Malaysia. If Penang succeeds then we can convince the Federal government to extend it everyday throughout the year in Malaysia.
Malaysians are dumping RM 163 million value of recyclable sources in plastic forms. On average, an individual uses 8 pieces of plastic bags in a week.This must stop not only to save the environment but also money..We must practice 3R-Reduce, reuse, and recycling because reducing plastic bags is only a small and simple step of reducing waste. Let us begin here.Reduce plastic bag consumption to save the earth for the next generation!
Once again, I would like to thank Gurney Plaza and Wushu, Lion and Dragon Dance Association Penang for their utmost support and for hosting the launching ceremony of this campaign today. I wish you a successful Wushu Competition tonight. Thank you.