By Liang Teck Meng
I am very disappointed that the chief executive officer of the Penang Institute has refused to answer even a single one of my 10 questions. Surely Dr Lim Kim-Hwa would find there is little difficulty in answering these straight-forward questions? Penang people have a right to know the answers.
I regret that there may now be speculation that the Penang Institute may have succumbed to pressure from the Penang chief minister, who, on June 28, had warned the Penang Institute not to be “dogs that bite the hand that feeds them” and not to tarnish the reputation of the Penang State Government.
I believe the Penang Institute should always be seen to hold on to its integrity as the premier socio-economic research institute in Penang.
It was Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who dragged Dr Lim and the Penang Institute into our dispute in the first place, by asking Dr Lim to help answer my press conference statement that Penang had the lowest GDP per capita growth among all 15 states and territories for the period 2008 to 2015.
Lim had disputed my figures and said it was outdated. He then provided his own set of data prepared by the Penang Institute that Penang was only the 3rd lowest in terms of GDP per capita growth among 15 states and territories for the period 2008 to 2015.
The DAP’s Ong Kian Ming also produced his own report which stated that for the period 2011 to 2015, Penang had the 4th lowest growth per capita among the 15 states and territories.
The DAP’s Steven Sim added his voice and said that Penang had a median salary that was RM100 per month more than the national average. Based on the same data source from the Department of Statistics given by Sim, I had also pointed out that Penang had the lowest median salary growth among all 16 states and territories for the period 2010 to 2015 and that it had been overtaken by Johor, Negeri Sembilan and Labuan.
I had also pointed out to Sim that based on the more inclusive Median Household Income data from the Department of Statistics, which includes other income sources on top of the salary, Penang households had registered the 4th lowest income growth among 16 states and territories for the period 2009 to 2015, and had been overtaken by Johor and Malacca.
As Lim had earlier disputed my data, I had hoped that Dr Lim would be able to help us resolve our dispute and provide us with definitive answers.
Bear in mind that the Penang Institute is funded by money from the Penang public and not by the chief minister himself. Therefore, the Penang Institute has a duty to answer any question on the economy of Penang truthfully for the benefit of the Penang people.
There is no reason why the Penang Institute can help Lim, who is also the DAP Secretary-General and a politician, answer his questions but refuse to answer any of my questions.
For the sake of the Penang Institute’s integrity and the Penang people who fund it, I urge Dr Lim to answer my original 10 questions.
On top of the 10 original questions, I would also request that the Penang Institute answer two more questions which were prompted by Sim’s statement last week: whether it is true that Penang had registered the lowest median salary growth since 2009 and whether Penang recorded the 4th lowest median household income growth since 2010 respectively.
Liang Teck Meng is MP for Simpang Renggam and Secretary-General of Gerakan.
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