Malaysia Dateline

Penang vs Kelantan: Which state government is more competent?

Social media was set abuzz last week with news of Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s new official Mercedes-Benz. Following that, Chow came under fire and was compared to Kelantan Chief Minister Ahmad Yakob who did something similar.

However, what wholly differentiates the two is that Ahmad Yakob purchased 14 Benz cars while his own state writhes in poverty!

So before we join the rest of the country to sling mud at Chow, let’s take things into perspective and compare how Penang and Kelantan have been faring.

Ever since DAP took over Penang in 2008, the state has flourished under its administration for the past 12 years. Penang has not lagged behind economically or development-wise, unlike Kelantan and other PAS-led states.

Despite the fact that the opposition state has been sidelined and sabotaged by Barisan Nasional over a decade, yet Penang has still stayed far ahead of many other states.

Last year alone, it emerged as the second highest FDI contributor in the country. This is truly remarkable, given that Malaysia has been reeling from Covid-19, recession, and political volatility. Penang’s success bears testament to the fact that the way a state is run either makes or breaks it.

On the other hand, Kelantan has become one of Malaysia’s most economically shabby states under PAS. It has been ruled by the Islamic party since 1990, yet is terribly underdeveloped and lacking in basic infrastructure up to this day.

Take 2018 for example, the year Kelantan was so short of funds it couldn’t even pay its civil servants. The state ended up requesting for a RM24.5 million loan from the federal government, though it was only granted RM22.5 million.

Just how badly have PAS leaders been mismanaging Kelantan’s finances and resources to the extent they couldn’t even cover basic state expenditure? Bearing this in mind, should its top leaders really be parading around in a fleet of luxury cars?

The timing of their exorbitant purchases was also very fishy, considering that Putrajaya had recently granted the state government RM400 million as a one-off allocation. However, these funds were meant to improve the people’s welfare and Kelantan’s sluggish economy, not line the pockets of PAS leaders.

What’s even worse is that after news of their staggering purchase broke out, the Kelantan Chief Minister and 13 of his executive councillors received RM50,000 in payment. Just what did they do for Kelantan that was so exemplary?

PAS has clearly failed in its fundamental responsibility to administer the state prudently and productively.

Therefore, let the performance of each state speak for itself. If Penang wasn’t well-run, it wouldn’t be where it is today. Likewise, if Kelantan wasn’t poorly managed, it wouldn’t be so backward and its people mired in such poverty.