Dato’ Michael Lee Beng Seng
In the 2009 Household Income survey by the Department of Statistics, the average (MEAN) household income for Selangor was RM5,962 – just ahead of Kuala Lumpur at RM5,488, while Penang trailed at RM4,407 per month. All the 3 states were ahead of the national average of RM4,025 for that year.
However, coming to 2016, the average household income for the entire Malaysia improved to RM6,958 with both Kuala Lumpur and Selangor standing above average. But shockingly, the Pearl of the Orient sank below-average with mean household income registered at RM6,771.
In 2009, KL households earned RM1,081 per month more than Penang. That chasm widened almost fivefold in 2016 when a difference of RM4,921 was reported. Selangor too recorded an expansion from RM1,555 to RM2,692, while Johor and Melaka – states that lagged behind Penang in 2009 – surged past the island state’s RM6,671 monthly average.
Being classified as below average while falling behind Melaka and Johor is certainly an embarrassment for Penang – which was once among the top 3 most prosperous states before the DAP took over. Despite the annual operating expenses to run the state being more now than ever – 500% of what it was in 2008 – it is a wonder where all that money is being spent.
So bad is the situation, even the Eco Marina and the Taman Manggis medical tourism projects have been cancelled while the much publicized BPO prime joint-venture with Singapore has been suspended.
Many other projects initiated by the state govt remain glitzy self-promotion launches and have yet to turn to reality.
Since 2011, Penang has lost the title of top state for investments while many long-time investors running large industrial establishments have either moved out or closed down.
It appears that the DAP-led Penang state government sees no qualms in spending RM305 million just for consultancy fees related to the undersea tunnel project but does very little to improve the lives of its residents.
Can Lim Guan Eng explain these shortcomings and clarify how he intends to rectify them?
Is Penang on the verge of a failed state? Already, we are witnessing a trend where increasing numbers of Penangites moving to the Klang Valley and elsewhere in search of better paying jobs.
Michael is the MCA’s Youth Treasurer General and the party’s youth chairman