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Perception versus Reality

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A common perception is that “nothing is moving in Penang”. The reality is how to really move when Penang contributed RM26 billion to the federal government but only received RM0.8 billion in return between 2001 and 2008, points out our correspondent.


Many people are very critical and, in fact, extremely negative about Penang’s direction post-March 2008 elections.  I constantly hear the rumblings of many and this has been thought provoking.  But a chord struck home when I attended a recent NGO forum in Penang.  The forum aimed to address whether anything has changed in Penang after two years.

At lunch, a retired finance professional (from a multinational company) spoke to me and commented that she did not know that federal and state relations were so complex. She also said that she just realised that the Penang state authorities were left out of important local matters and they were faced with tremendous challenges.  There must be so many more like this lady who would be clueless, if not for their own initiative to find out more through alternative media, networking and analysis of information.  Many perceptions are formed based on one’s observations and information at hand.

To the ordinary folk, Penang is perceived to be the same old place.  There is no visible difference – pre- or post-March 2008.   Traffic is still crazy, drains are still clogged, illegal parking is rampant and everyday life still plods along in pretty much the same manner.  That’s the general perception.  But the reality is that there has been a flurry of activity behind the scenes post-March 2008 that is not visible to the layperson.  Traffic jams and clogged drains are the least of my worries at this point in time.  The unaccounted for billions of ringgit squandered in this country is one of my major worries.

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A common perception is that “nothing is moving in Penang”. The reality is how to really move when Penang contributed RM26 billion to the federal government but only received RM0.8 billion in return between 2001 and 2008. Simple math will indicate gross injustices and unfair practices by the federal government.

Another example is the Auditor General’s 2008 report for Penang, which received praise for effective cost-cutting measures and prudent ways. The report says the state’s expenditure was reduced by RM35.4 million or by 11.1 per cent and it was the first time that the state’s consolidated funds rose above the RM1 billion mark (The Edge, 21 October 2009).  However, what does this translate to for the  layperson?   There is no visible impact, thus the general perception remains as it is.  The reality is that this accomplishment speaks positively for the management of the state, and these are the favorable management practices we want continued.

These are important messages to pass on.  Perception can be totally unreal.  Let us keep ourselves well-informed.  Let us take the initiative to find out more about what’s real and what’s unreal. Let’s contribute positively to the change process that we so desire.  For every grouse and concern that we have, let’s think of probably solutions and find ways to channel these ideas.  Let’s vote for a total change in favour of PR in the next General Election and give them a chance to turn the situation around for the betterment of the nation as a whole.

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