Guan Eng’s warning to Penang Institute not surprising

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PETALING JAYA: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s warning to the Penang Institute against tarnishing the image of the state government is only to be expected, says Wan Saiful Wan Jan.

“It’s only to be expected when you’re a state-funded research centre,” the CEO of Malaysian libertarian think tank, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), told FMT today.

“I’m not that surprised. It’s definitely wrong, but this is normal practice when it comes to a centre under the government. State governments that fund such centres or universities will have expectations.

“That is why we – IDEAS – are independent,” he added.

The onus, he said, was now on members of the Penang Institute to ensure that their work had integrity.

“I know that they’ll watch for what results they do and do not release to the public. So my hope is that they’ll maintain the integrity of the work they produce,” Wan Saiful said.

Lim had, in what is now considered a contentious opening speech for the Penang Institute’s new building at Jalan Brown, George Town, told think tank members to “bear in mind that you are working for an institute that is funded by the state government.”

“Do not forget that you also are part of the Penang state government, and your actions should not be seen to tarnish or affect the image of the state government,” Lim had said.

“Because we are funding you, we expect that you will put the government in good stead, and also furnish the image and of course not put in threat the image of the Penang government.”