Penang's economic performance better under BN, Gerakan insists

A general view of George Town, Penang. October 19, 2016. — Picture by KE Ooi
A general view of George Town, Penang. October 19, 2016. — Picture by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 19 — Penang had clear cut policies when the Barisan Nasional (BN) ran the state government while the current DAP-led administration has only offered “lip service”, Gerakan leaders asserted today.

The BN component’s state chairman Teng Chang Yeow pointed out that when his party led the island state previously, it had drawn up the Penang Strategic Development Plan 1 and 2 with clear cut policies.

“While the DAP-led State Government has only lip service policies that are only known to one man who is the Chief Minister,” he said in a statement.

Gerakan secretary-general Liang Teck Meng claimed the state’s current economic powerhouse acclaim was due to the BN’s labours when it governed Penang, which the DAP was now enjoying.

“Under Penang BN and long before DAP took over, Penang was already given the title of Silicon Valley and was the biggest exporter and third biggest manufacturer of electronics and semiconductors in the world,” he said.

Teng was responding to Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng’s statement that the state’s economy had exceled under Pakatan’s rule while using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita as a measurement.

Lim had said Penang was the third highest nationally in growth rate per capita GDP for 2012 and 2013, it climbed to second for 2013 and 2014, and it became “national champions” for 2014 and 2015.

“The increase in GDP value during BN’s two-year period of RM7,040 million was even more than DAP-led state government of RM6,219 million for a period of five years,” Teng said.

He used figures from the Department of Statistics that showed the GDP value in 2005 at RM39,186 and in 2007 at RM46,226 million.

Teng said the figures translated to an increase of RM7,040 million, an increase of 18 per cent in GDP value between 2005 and 2007, or an average annual growth of 9 per cent.

He then compared to the GDP value in 2008 and 2013 which recorded RM48,749 million and RM54,969 million respectively.

“That is an increase of RM6,219 million, which is an increase of 13 per cent for five years, so the average annual growth from 2008 to 2013 was only 3 per cent,” he said.

Liang, on the other hand, accused Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim of political dishonesty and propaganda by stating that Penang has the fourth highest median salary of RM1,600 below Selangor, Johor and Negri Sembilan while omitting Kuala Lumpur and Labuan in his list.

He said Sim had based his list on the 2015 Salaries and Wages Survey Report but since the survey only started in 2014, there was no past data for comparison.

“A better data and more revealing data source would be the Median Household Income Survey from the Department of Statistics that includes all income including wages, investment income, transfers to a household and gives a more complete picture of the well-being of the median household compared to salaries alone,” he said.

He referred to this data, which is available for the years 2009, 2012 and 2014, to point out that Penang ranks fourth lowest in terms of household income growth from 2009 to 2014 while Selangor is third lowest.

“Not only has Penang fallen further behind Kuala Lumpur and Labuan for median household income but Penang was also overtaken by Johor and Malacca since 2009,”

“Under the DAP, Penang had fallen from fifth highest household income in 2009 to seventh highest in 2014,” he said.

Liang also denied Sim’s allegations that the federal government does not allocate enough funds to Penang.

“Based on data that I have requested from the Economic Planning Unit, the true total allocation to Penang by the Federal Government had reached RM5.8 billion in the year 2015 and had always been above RM4 billion per year since 2005,” he said.

He told DAP to stop its self-denial mode of what the true economic situation in Penang is.

“The people on the ground in Penang are already feeling something is wrong,” he claimed.