For the record, Penang was originally classed as a city and also the first and only city in pre-independence Malaya until Kuala Lumpur was granted city status in 1972. George Town was declared a city by a royal charter issued on 1 Jan 1957 by Queen Elizabeth II, with Councilor D.S. Ramanathan as our first mayor. The status was later retracted in 1974 when George Town City Council merged with the Penang rural district council to form a local government management board. Then, in 1976, it turned into the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) when the Local Government Act was enforced. In Jan 2010, the Penang State Government reapplied for a city status but to no avail. Almost five years after the re-application, the State received a letter from the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry informing the decision made during a cabinet meeting on 7 Nov 2014, where Penang Island will once again be granted city status.
What does it mean to have city status?
Gaining a city status creates a number of benefits for the state. With the status, the local government body would be able to increase its manpower with introduction of additional posts that are required for the Penang City Council or MBPP. The approval of additional officers and other staff is tied to the whole process of the city status. The city status will also see a revision in the boundaries of the council’s jurisdiction to include recent reclamation areas. One of the main benefits is that Penang Island will receive increased federal allocations for public services and infrastructure compared to when it was a municipality.
Plans and strategies for the future
The MBPP have worked out and prioritise areas to work on in order to strengthen the city’s standards. Some of the areas include:
· To develop the state’s environmental and cleanliness image, including cleanliness of food premises.
· To strengthen traffic management
· To sustain urban development by increasing public safety
· Increase quality of service to speed up revenue collection
The city council is also working towards improving the level of performance in the sector of human resource, work process and latest technology to provide solutions which meets public needs. These efforts will be carried out continuously using the approach of Business Process Re-engineering and taking into account the importance and relevance of areas such as:
· Health and cleanliness
· Valuation and property management
· Financial management
· Complaints managementPenang is celebrating this huge achievement with events lined-up throughout the month of April. Visit our event listing for more information on happenings during the month-long celebration.