Penang leads again!

In the next GE, will Penang be taken back by BN?

The big brother thinks that with it winning a few extra seats, and the little brothers winning one or 2 seats each, they can scrape through and win the next GE.  But sentiments on the grounds say otherwise.

Ask any Penangite and the answer is likely to be they would give LGE and PR another term.

Penang has done well since 308, despite the handicap it faces with an uncooperative Federal Government. This is generally the assessment by most analysts.

The latest article in the Economist says plenty about the revival of Penang.  It is now a show case state of Malaysia.

AFter 308, I have said that the most important thing facing the opposition pact is for PR to show its  ability to govern  the states that it has won, and if it can manages the states well, even non-supporters will cross over to support them.

Penang is doing exactly that.

The article in the  Economist is an acknowledgement by foreign observers on how well Penang has been doing.

Here  is the article by the Economist:

Malaysia’s Penang state

Getting back its mojo

IF YOU are going to have a heart attack, have it in Penang. So one might think, to the see the hospitals in George Town, the capital of this north-western Malaysian state. Patients are flocking in. Ted Mohr, the head of the venerable Penang Adventist Hospital says that he will admit 70,000 medical tourists this year. The hospital specialises in heart procedures and it will perform roughly 23,000 of them this year, including 550 open-heart operations. Such is the demand that the hospital is doubling its number of beds.

Mr Mohr gives two main reasons for Penang’s success with the coronary crowd. First, it is relatively cheap. Open-heart surgery that would set you back $100,000 in America costs only about $10,000 in Penang. Second, Penang’s hospitals are as well-equipped as many in the West.

The combination of low cost and high technology is the main reason why industries across the state of Penang, made up of the original island and a larger bit of the mainland, are prospering again after more than a decade of decline. Their revival is important to Malaysia’s economy—Penang and the surrounding region account for 21% of the country’s GDP. But the renaissance could also have important political consequences for the country. Since 2008 Penang has been one of only four states (out of 13) run by an opposition party. If its politicians can claim the credit for the recent success, that should greatly help the opposition in the next general election, expected within the year.

Penang was founded as a free port by the British in 1786. Occupying a position between India and East Asia, the island drew merchants and middlemen keen to make their fortunes. Chinese, Indians, Armenians, Arabs and more all traded alongside each other. With its racial and religious mix, and dedication to the pursuit of free trade, Penang was in many ways the first custom-made city of globalisation.

The island’s fortunes sank as it lost business to its arch-rival, Singapore. In the post-colonial period Penang fell victim to the rise of nationalism. The region’s freshly minted republics chose to develop their own ports. Penang enjoyed a revival during the 1970s with the setting-up of Malaysia’s first free-trade zone (a “free port” by another name); this attracted big names in electronics, like Intel and Bosch, which built some of the first offshore assembly lines. But this boom was founded on cheap labour, and as Malaysia became richer other emerging economies, such as China and Vietnam, drew the assembly work away.

To recover its prosperity, Penang has sought to reinvent itself. With the rise of India and China, Penang’s location again looks very handy to foreign companies as a place to invest, as in the 18th century. It is relatively close to both big markets—yet offers advantages that trump Asia’s giants’.

Penang’s own “Silicon Valley” companies know that the rule of law in Malaysia gives them the sort of protection for patents and intellectual property they would not enjoy in China, and an ease of doing business that they could not find in India. Wages are higher than they were, but no more so nowadays than on the Chinese seaboard. The federal government has also spent liberally on bridges and the airport, making Penang better connected to the rest of Asia. And old George Town has been smartened up, which helps to bring in foreigners to live, work—and have surgery.

The result is another boom. Last year more investment poured into the state than any other in Malaysia. Scores of new electronics firms have swooped in to join the pioneers, along with an expanding cluster of 20 or so medical-device manufacturers. Crucially, most of the new jobs are in research and development rather than assembly. An American chip-designer, Altera, has a new facility with 1,100 workers in Penang, 800 of them engineers. Its head says that almost all the engineers are locals—which is good for Malaysia.

Whom to thank?

When the Democratic Action Party won the state’s legislative assembly three years ago, it became the first opposition party to triumph in Penang in more than 40 years. The victory presented a direct challenge to the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that has ruled the country continuously since independence in 1957. Penang’s new leader, Lim Guan Eng, says that the federal government has an “ambivalent” attitude towards him, cutting off some funding but not undermining his authority. “They don’t want us to get any credit, but they can’t afford to see us fail”.

The revival of Penang was already under way in 2008, but Mr Eng’s new policies have helped it along. He has become the first governor in Malaysia to open up all state tenders to competition. This has entailed dismantling the special preferences for ethnic Malays that have underpinned the BN’s rule since the early 1970s. That was when the Malay majority institutionalised affirmative action for themselves, to the disadvantage of ethnic Chinese (a majority in Penang), who were perceived to have got unduly rich. Mr Eng claims that by reforming the system he has ended the cronyism and corruption that wasted money under previous regimes.

Adapted to the national stage, such policies could transform the way that the Malaysian federal government conducts business. Mr Eng says that the savings he has made by ending the “old systems of patronage” allow him to spend money on new social programmes instead, such as modest handouts for the elderly. These policies are popular, and the assault on corruption pleases foreign investors. Little wonder, then, that Penang has become a political weathervane as much as a lesson in economic development.


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kamparboy
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 10:29:30

    Having the Economists to feature the revival of Penang is the pride of all Malaysian. The Economists is the widely circulated publications and a frequent read by many international businessmen.
    Now what is wrong with DAP getting the credit! it is the elected state government by the rakyat. Who says only BN knows how to govern!
    Hope that this is the beginning of a new era for Malaysia where politicians have to work honestly and work very hard to be elected.
    And their works have to benefit all the Rakyat, not their cronies only.


  2. klm
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 12:36:10

    And Koh Tsu Koon thinks He did a damn good job in Penang. He still want to lead the charge in Penang. What a has been!


  3. CYC
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 12:50:47

    KTK is another Chiang Kai Shek who always dream to regain his territory even though knowing very well it is a just a dream. A failed scholar .


  4. hanprem
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 16:51:29

    Despite the constant sabotage by the BN bludgers and the obstacles placed by the cronies friendly Federal Government, Pakatan has done exceptionally well.
    BN bludgers who want to claim credits for Penang’s current state of affairs are nothing but sore losers.


  5. A true Malaysian
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 21:06:10

    I told you so, Mr. Eng (as mistakenly reported by Economist as LGE’s surname) ‘boleh’.

    Umno wants to do another Lim Chong Eu with LGE, by inviting DAP to join BN.

    I told you so, Lim Chong Eu made the worst mistake of his lifetime here by leading Gerakan to join BN. By the way, his mistake here ‘intentional’ or otherwise, only he knew it. He brought along ‘the truth’ with him, unfortunately. Of course, apart from LCE, Tun Razak knew it well. He was ‘shrewd’ enough to buy out influential politicians to form BN.

    BN is paying very costly for Umno’s shrewdness…..Hope we can look forward to a new era under Pakatan, in near future.


  6. monsterball
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 22:11:05

    ” I predicted it! I predicted it!” so said Wang Lung’s uncle.. from ..”The Good Earth” movie..and still being used by braggarts from BN.
    BN taking back Penang?
    Are they NUTS????


  7. monsterball
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 05:44:41

    Poor poor Penang born…Lee Chong Wei.
    He had chances to win the gold and lost…all due to his own uncharacteristic mistakes.
    I guess…he thought Lin Dan was tired and was shocked to find Lin Dan full of energy.
    The way Chong Wei played…he deserved to loose it…as he was so passive ..and still feel terribly nervous playing against Lin Dan.
    The Malaysian coach?
    What are they good for?
    Everyone can see Chong Wei was nervous.
    Why can they have the guts to tell Chong Wel..”Do you want to win or just try luck? Your returns shows you are scared of Lin Dan or trying to be too careful and hope Lin Dan make mistakes to win points” …and point out his mental weakness so glaringly seen.
    But no..the Malaysian coach keep teaching him how to play.
    These Malaysians coaches are simply useless.
    All things been said…Lin Dan is trully the best in the doubt about that because Chong Wei made him so.
    Good morning!!!


  8. Li Li Fa
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 09:24:35

    It is heartening to note that Penang is back in the forefront of good governance.

    This I believe came about because the current State government has actively engaged the people, in this redevelopment programe, brought in numerous foreign investors, implemented the system of accountability and provided a strong clean leadership. Despite the lack of support from the Fed Government, this state has resolved to utilise what they have, against all odds, and can still show the world that they can do it. Just like the Chinese pianist without fingers.

    Soon, this State will regain its lustre as the Pearl of the Orient.

    Brovo, keep it up. You make all Malaysians proud of you.

    Come this Merdeka day, my family and I will make a trip up north to Penang savouring their food, sights and sounds.


  9. Kenny
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 10:27:25

    LGE’s administration has been under racial and religious attacks from Umno’s minions ever since he took office and they have never stopped.

    A few days after he took office Umno held a demo against him for saying Penang will bring meritocracy in award of contracts. He was accused of cancelling a Muslim religious procession when the route was changed. Just last month, Ezam held a demo in the middle of Penang bridge against the Penang govt and caused a massive traffic jam but no action was taken against him. Umno accuse LGE of sidelining Malays, MCA accuse him of sidelining Chinese.

    Despite all these attacks Penang has done well. The streets are cleaner, the public transport runs on time and there are less traffic jams.

    Gerakan can forget about recapturing Penang. Even Malay contractors are happy with LGE’s meritocracy where previously only Umno connected contractors can win govt contracts.

    DAP being propositioned to join BN is an acknowledgement of this. BN is like a winners’ club where winners like Gerakan and PPP were asked to join. DAP should not fall into the same trap as Gerakan. Gerakan wanted to reform BN from within and was reformed itself.

    As for Koh Tsu Koon, he is a sad figure who is being pressured by Umno to step down. There is an orchestrated campaign against him. He is also one of the most abused Chinese politician judging from comments in news portals. I think he should just step down and save the last dregs of his pride rather than being dragged down ignominiously.


  10. Mike
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 10:53:28

    Corruption and abuse of power are the major causes of the problems in Malaysia, eradicate these evil behaviors and you will solve half of the many problems we are facing now .


  11. Li Li Fa
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 11:29:13

    KSK can forget about contesting in Penang. He might as well bring his ‘assam laksa’ recipe to another state, and try if it works. If it doesn’t he can do a research on why the Penang Assam Laksa has become world famous.

    Afterall it is no secret recipe that BN wants him out. Neither do they want him in.


  12. alice cc ang
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 12:10:21

    Just sick to see that KSK face whenever he opens his mouth. No wonder he was bundled out from Penang. So thick skin and egoistics. He thought he has done hell of a good job for Penang and the Penanites like him. I suggest he stop his daydreaming and get real man.
    On another note, great job done by the LGE administration till todate despite many obstacles from UMNO sore losers and the Federal government.
    Keep it up and we will support you.


  13. klm
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 14:02:31

    I keep getting signals from Najib’s inner circle that they are not confident of winning the next election. Why all the brave and confident public statements by UMNO? Is there a mismatch somewhere?


  14. Dr Hsu
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 15:01:03

    Big Brother probably will win many of its seats, but looking at the Bersih crowd, majority of them not even affiliated to any political parties, it is worried that the little brothers ( Make Chinese Angry and Make Indian Cry and others) cannot deliever the seats required. And add on to the Safe deposits not being so safe after all, it is certainly not so confident to win.

    I would say it is a situation that is now touch and go..No 1 is under siege, and these few days he is seen to start being moderate again by voicing out to do away with Censorship and form a bipartisan panel to review election rules.. I hope that he has finally realised that he has to take a stand either to be a centrist or a rightist.(I hope it is former. He cannot be both and still hope to gain credibility.

    There is also a concerted effort to force out a certain head of a little brother which used to rule Penang… He has been under attack left and right…But i feel that it is now too late for that party and that it would suffer its worst defeat in the next GE and goes the way of the PPP)


  15. Kenny
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 19:37:39

    Will it make any difference if somebody else replace KTK? Gerakan is a lost cause as long as it stays in BN. Replacing Samy Vellu with Pannivel has not made MIC more attractive.

    May Dr. Hsu and klm, both of you can advise KTK to step down gracefully instead of being dragged down. He was never a good or independent CM but I feel a little sorry for him.


  16. Phua Kai Lit
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 23:33:13

    The day that sees someone like LGE becomes the Prime Minister of Malaysia is the day that Malaysia has finally grown up, i.e. a highly competent and fair person who
    gets to become the leader of Malaysia without having to be a Malay (or having to be act the role of a “Constitutional Malay” and suppress/hide his or her ethnic origin)

    Philippines had Corazon Aquino (Chinese descent), Thailand has Yingluck Shinawatra (Chinese descent), even Papua New Guinea has Sir Julius Chan (partial Chinese descent). Time to grow up, Malaysia !


  17. monsterball
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 17:42:01

    The growing up will take some time.
    First thing first….vote BN out…and let PR under Anwar as PM..undo the important things that are needed right now…like lowering oil prices…no more corruptions to strengthen our blessed country…and bring all big fishes to court for corruptions..not forgetting getting rid of ISA and clean electoral rolls….and many many more.
    To have a PM where all Malaysians have no race issues….not important…right now.
    Even Anwar’s wife is 100 times better than Najib…as PM.
    And as for Lim Guan Eng…he is destined to take care of Penang for sometime.


  18. petestop
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 14:02:42

    Replace Koh Tsu Koon with Teng Hock Nan, check out how Dr Teng make a fool of himself here:

    Some of the most aggressive commentators I know to be long-time property investor.

    Gerakan still got hope in Penang ? They are losing support amongst the “lau ciao”, and can’t even muster 5% of the young generation (I can almost say 99% of my colleagues are pro-Opposition or rather pro-current Penang govt).
    Most of the “lau ciao” support is mainly due to nostalgic support for the much respected Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu. The “bo hood” Tsu Koon, is just “bo hood” for majority of Penangites.


  19. Atila
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 00:51:42

    Hi Dr.Hsu
    How are you these days?
    It has been a while i log into ur blog.
    Sighhhh Penang…


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