Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Penang Economic Monthly

This is a new magazine published by the Socio-Economic and Environmental Research Institute (SERI) in Penang. I was given a preview copy. The Penang Economic Monthly, page 5, flashes out its mission statement:

1. Offer reliable socio-economic data for the benefit of decision makers in government and the private sector;

2. Supply Penangites with knowledge about significant issues that will promote public participation;

3. Encourage discussion about various aspects of Penang's fate and fortune;

4. Provide information about Penang personalities who have contributed, sometimes in very unassuming but critical ways, to the reputation and well-being of the state;

5. Place the spotlight on ordinary Penangites who are otherwise unnoticed and ugnored, but who nevertheless define the culture of the state in essential ways;

6. Highlight the importance of the island as a generator of culture, education, industry and cosmopolitanism;

7. Emphasize present trends in the arts, industry, politics, and economics that are prominent in Penang, and that affect the immediate future of the state and country, and,

8. Discover and display Penang's multifaceted history.

Ooi Kee Beng, the editor's wrapped and lucid description of the magazine: It is about remembering Penang's forgotten dreams.

How timely and strategic. After the coming of change since last year's March 08 defeat of the Barisan National, the new state government has ceaselessly bringing back the socio-economic stature the Pearl of the Orient once enjoyed. This promising publication project is one of the latest effort to re-construct and re-develop the potential of Penang and its people that have been overlooked and ignored by the previous government. This preview issue features an article by the aspiring Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng 'Repossessing the future of Penang.' It was a shock to discover how neglected the state was while under the ruling of Barisan National,

"...over the last 10 years, Penang household income actually increased the least among all the states, including Sabah and Sarawak. Between 1999 and 2004, this figure grew by 2.5 per cent annually, while the average for the whole country was 6.6 percent!"

It is good that the Penang Economic Monthly is serving as a channel for issues like this to be made deservedly known to us. The magazine is basically answering two soteriological questions facing the Penang state: (1) How did we get here?, and (2) How are we going to where we are destined to be?

No comments: