Teng Chang Yeow cannot avoid key questions on his proposed economic direction

Media conference statement by Chow Kon Yeow, Liew Chin Tong and Wong Hon Wai on 8th June 2012 in Komtar, George Town, Penang

Teng Chang Yeow cannot avoid key questions on his proposed economic direction

It is said that Teng Chang Yeow was appointed to lead Barisan Nasional in Penang because Prime Minister Najib Razak saw him – compared to Koh Tsu Koon – as someone with a bolder and braver character. However, it appears that since Teng’s appointment, he has been all thunder but no rain, making nice sounding announcements that lack any follow up substance.

With regards Penang’s economic future, Teng Chang Yeow must not avoid questions about whether he intends to continue pushing for the manufacturing sector or thinks manufacturing has already peaked. As Penang MCA advisor Koay Kar Huah has said that Penang has too many factories, does Teng therefore intend to give up on manufacturing just to focus on the services sector solely?  This is a basic question to Penang’s future that must be answered by Teng.

Sadly, our repeated replies to Teng’s “announcements” have not been responded to. Instead, Gerakan Youth has requested us not to call for press conferences every two days to question Teng.

Gerakan Youth claims that Teng Chang Yeow’s announcements are promises that will only be delivered after BN recaptures Penang. They asked us to patiently await Teng’s further announcements on the details of the plans, which will only materialise after public opinion is collected.

We wish to clarify that we are only responding to Teng’s invitation to fight policy to policy and ideals to ideals. We are only sincere and serious in engaging Teng in public policy debate which concerns Penang’s future.

When Teng was appointed, he quickly announced a first package of his plans, which included: (1) Restoring Penang’s Free Port Status. (2) Transform Seberang Perai into an international financial district. (3) Set up innovation dynamos park. (4) Set up aquaculture hubs. And, (5) Replace the manufacturing sector with the services sector.

We reiterate, these are only headline announcements that have no substance. They sound good, but where are the goods?

This week, we saw Teng suddenly change course after Barisan Nasional Penang’s B Team of Hilmi Yahya, Teng Hock Nan, and Tan Cheng Liang undermined his mega proposals by coming up with a counter-proposal known as the CIQ project. Teng now no longer speaks of his Free Port plans and has shifted his attention to talk about Press Freedom, Transport, and Housing.

However, Teng’s proposals are all based on the assumption that the Manufacturing sector has peaked and saturated. We wish to know if he agrees with the assertion that Penang has too many manufacturing factories already. We are of the opinion that this underlying assumption affects Penang’s future policy direction, including his Free Port idea as well as the possible privatisation of Penang Port under Syed Mokhtar.

We do not view this approach as a wise one and is something that is half-baked and could lead Penang down a regrettable path of economic slump. Penang’s economic future needs to be driven by a manufacturing sector that continues to evolve and advance, and which helps spur new growth for the services sector.


Chow Kon Yeow is DAP Penang Chairman, MP for Tanjong, State Exco for Local Government and Traffic Management.

Liew Chin Tong is MP for Bukit Bendera

Wong Hon Wai is State Exco for Housing

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