Being classified as being below average income as well as falling behind Melaka and Johor is surely embarrassing for Penang

By Michael Lee

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.

Nevertheless, all these three 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 has improved to RM6,958 and Kuala Lumpur and Selangor stand with above average income.

But shockingly, the Pearl of the Orient has officially sunk to a below-average state for mean household income as the RM6,771. This figure is below the national average.

In 2009, KL households earned RM1,081 per month more than Penang. But in 2016, this chasm widened to RM4,921 per month.

Other distressing figures are that: in 2009, Selangor households made RM1,555 per month higher than Penang. By 2016, the difference expanded to RM2,692 per month.

Also in 2009, Johor was RM3,835, Melaka was RM4,184 – both lagged behind Penang’s RM4,407 per month. However, by 2016, both Johor (RM6,928) and Melaka (RM6,849) had surged past Penang’s RM6,771.

Being classified as being below average income as well as falling behind Melaka and Johor is surely embarrassing for Penang – which was once among the top three most prosperous state before DAP took over.

Despite the Penang government’s annual operating expenses now being 500% of what it was in 2008 where more money is being spent by the state government than ever, the state seems to be stuck in limbo.

Projects such as Eco Marina and the Taman Manggis medical tourism projects have been cancelled while the much publicised BPO prime joint-venture with Singapore has been suspended.

Many other projects initiated by the state government remain just glitzy self-promotion launches and have yet to turn to reality.

Since 2011, Penang had lost the title of top state for investments while many long-time large factories have moved out or closed down.

The DAP-led Penang state government sees no qualms in spending RM305 million in consultancy fees alone for the feasibility and detailed design studies of the three roads and tunnel costing for the undersea tunnel project, hardly performing anything to improve the lives of its residents, while the cost of living for its common folks continue to languish behind other states which it once was ahead of.

The Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng must clarify to Penangites: how could he have failed Penang and how does DAP intend to repair and reverse this worrying trend?

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 Lee is MCA Youth treasurer general and Penang MCA Youth chief