Penang island to be a city soon


GEORGE TOWN: The Federal Action Council (FAC) of Penang declared full support today to the state government’s effort to secure city status for the island.

Its chairman, Zainal Abidin Osman, said elevating the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) to city council would benefit the state and create at least 500 new jobs.

Penang’s capital, George Town, had been awarded city status by way of a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth II on January 1, 1957 but this was not acknowledged by Putrajaya.

An island-wide city status would give the council more power and a bigger budget, especially in traffic management and enforcement.

Penang now has two municipal councils, one governing the island and the Seberang Perai Municipal Council for the mainland part of the state.

Zainal noted that the Pakatan Rakyat state government had submitted an official application to the federal government in 2010 to grant an island-wide city status.

He also pointed out that the previous Barisan Nasional state government had also been working towards securing city status for Penang island since 2001.

“We fully support the state application to elevate the status of the whole island into a city,” Zainal told newsmen after a FAC meeting here today.

He said several Housing and Local Government Ministry representatives, who attended today’s meeting, said they were working on the process to grant the application.

He added that the process would take time because the Public Service Commission had to first approve the employment scale of a city council then seek the Cabinet’s approval before securing royal consent.

“All this will take time, but we are confident that Penang island will be declared a city soon,” said Zainal, who is the state Umno chairman.

Also present was state Opposition Leader and Teluk Air Tawar elected representative Jahara Hamid.

Regarding the ban on the Penang Volunteer Patrol Unit or PPS, Zainal said the Home Ministry had acted within its powers under the law.

He cautioned that law and order would break loose and public order would be compromised if every state were to have its own police force or army.

He said it was within the state government’s right to take the matter up to the court.

“But the Federal Constitution is clear – security and public order are under federal, not state,” said Zainal.

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