Seagate’s closure: Zairil says Penang will bounce back

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PETALING JAYA: Penang’s economy is one that is export-oriented and would always be linked to global conditions, said Bukit Bendera lawmaker Zairil Khir Johari.

However, the reported closure of hard disk manufacturer Seagate is not only taking place in Penang, but also in Seremban and China, he added.

“They are shutting down three out of five factories (worldwide). This is something that we regret but we also understand that the company has to make internal decisions due to their own problems.

“Times are bad globally. Penang, being a manufacturing economy, will always be linked to global economic conditions,” explained Zairil to FMT.

The Penang DAP vice-chairman was commenting on the criticisms made by the state’s MCA Secretary Dr Tan Chuan Hong.

Tan had earlier urged the state government to explain its “declining economy” and on the closure of Seagate’s major production plant in Penang.

Zairil, in response, said the state administration had shifted a lot of focus onto the services industry, especially tourism, which is showing positive growth figures year on year.

“The more important part is that the Penang Government, through our career and talent centre is assisting to help those being laid off (by Seagate) to get rehired.”

He also pointed out that despite the setbacks they had in the past, Penang had always successfully bounced back.

“2008 to 2009 was a recession time caused by the global financial crisis. Penang, being an export-oriented economy, especially at the time, was naturally hit hard.

“The fact is that we recovered strongly and in 2010 and 2011 posted the highest investments in Malaysia for the first time ever. From 2012 onwards, our GDP (gross domestic product) growth was on a par with the national growth rate.

“As everyone knows, investments take time to bear fruit, and all the investments we got in 2010 and 2011 started to show in the figures from 2012 onwards.”

He then took a swipe at Tan, saying perhaps the latter was speaking without in-depth knowledge of the state’s economic history.

“Maybe he is trying to pull  wool over the people’s eyes.”

Joshua Woo Sze Zeng, the Special Officer to Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim, echoed the same remarks, saying Tan’s allegations were unfounded and exposed “much misinformation and the unfortunate ignorance” of the latter.

He also said that Tan had in his statement relied on outdated data, taken from a January 2015 report published in Penang Institute’s magazine, Penang Monthly.

“In that issue, Penang’s GDP increase of 5.7% compared with the country’s 5.8% in 2014 was a calculated projection.

“After the Federal Government announced the 11th Malaysia Plan, Penang Monthly published the official figure in the July 2015 issue on page 37.

“The official figure stated that Penang had a 7.4% increase in GDP compared with the country’s 6% in 2014,” he said in a statement today.