MP SPEAKS Gerakan secretary-general and MP for Simpang Renggam Liang Teck Meng accused me of “political dishonesty and propaganda” after my colleagues and I exposed him for using outdated data to paint a false picture of the Penang government.
I showed him the latest data from the federal government to demonstrate that 1) workers in Penang are earning better salaries than most states in Malaysia, 2) Penang did well despite the lack of federal support, and 3) the federal government is hoarding 98 percent of the resources and allocating only 2 percent of the federal budget to be shared among the 13 states in Malaysia.
In order to avoid a lengthy article, I will respond to his statement in two parts. This is part one.
Let’s use Liang’s own measurement - median household income
Liang tried his hands on statistics again by saying that I should be using “median household income” instead of “median salary”. I stand by my method and I believe any thinking person will be able to understand the difference, and my choice of using median individual worker’s salary instead of median household income.
Nevertheless, in order to show him that Penang’s performance is better now than before even in this aspect, I will use Liang’s own measurement.
He claimed that under the Harapan government, Penang’s median household income growth rate is ranked 4th from the bottom (for growth rate between 2009 - 2014).
If Liang wants to make such a comparison, let us go back a little bit more to Penang’s performance in the last decade of Gerakan rule.
Federal government’s data showed that Gerakan drove Penang to the ground and everyone had to work hard to pick up again
It is clear from the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) data that Penang’s median household income ranked quite low in terms of growth rate in the last 10 years of Gerakan rule.
After experiencing negative growth rate in the late 90s, from 1999 - 2002, Penang’s median household income growth is ranked 3rd from bottom (12 out of 14); it improved slightly in the next survey period, but fell to 2nd from bottom for the period between 2004 - 2007 (13 out of 14).
From 2nd last to highest
When Harapan took over, Penang’s median household income growth ranking actually improved. The growth ranking for the period of 2007-2009 was highest in 10 years since 1999!
Not only had our ranking improved, under Harapan, Penang achieved a 17-year record high in median household income growth rate.
When Harapan took over from Gerakan, the median household income growth rate was 9.50 pecent (2004 - 2007). By 2012, we have achieved a 27.73 percent growth rate. Even the lower growth rate for the period between 2012 - 2014 at 16.41 percent was much higher than anything seen in the final decade of Gerakan rule in Penang.
Just so that Liang later does not accuse me of being unfair, I also did a five-year comparison for 2002-2007, just like he has shown for 2009-2014.
As can be seen from Table 2, while Liang claimed that under DAP, the median household income growth for Penang from 2009-2014 ranked “4th from the bottom”, I would like to remind him that during the Gerakan-Umno partnership era, Penang was ranked no 2, but from the bottom.
In terms of growth rate, from 2002-2007 under the Gerakan-Umno partnership, Penang’s median household income grew 12.83 percent. But from 2009-2014, under Harapan, it grew 48.7 percent.
Starting from scratch
Let the people judge using the numbers given by Gerakan’s own federal government.
Obviously, the Harapan Penang government had to pick up from the bottom where Gerakan had dropped us in the last ten years of their rule.
And as I have mentioned in my earlier statement, Penang excelled despite the lack of federal support. This I attribute solely to the sheer grit of Penangites finally being allowed to thrive under a clean Harapan state government.
I will deal with Liang's so-called "true total allocation to Penang by the federal government" in my next statement.
STEVEN SIM CHEE KEONG is Bukit Mertajam MP and director of Penang Institute