Penang Island City Council

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Penang Island City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang
Local Government Act 1976
Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang Logo
Dato' Patahiyah binti Ismail
Memimpin Sambil Berkhidmat
Meeting place
City Hall, George Town
Previously known as Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang or Penang Island Municipal Council until 2014

The City Council of Penang Island or Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP) is a local authority which administers the city of George Town and Penang Island. This agency is under Penang state government. MBPP is responsible for public health and sanitation, waste removal and management, town planning, traffic management, environmental protection and building control, social and economic development and general maintenance functions of urban infrastructure. The MBPP main headquarters is located at the City Hall (in front of The Esplanade), George Town.


A Committee of Assessors was established in George Town in 1801, and was the first local authority established in Malaya. In 1857, local government in George Town was placed in the hands of five Municipal Commissioners, three of whom were elected by a limited franchise, but these elections were abolished in 1913.

In 1951, as part of the move towards independence for Malaya, the British colonial authorities reintroduced local elections of nine of the fifteen municipal commissioners for George Town. Other municipal councils in Malaya followed shortly thereafter, with Kuala Lumpur holding its first local elections the year after. By 1956, George Town had become the first municipality in the Federation of Malaya to have a fully elected council, with Cllr G. H. Goh (Alliance) as its first President.

On 1 January 1957, George Town became a city by a royal charter granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, becoming the first town in the Federation of Malaya to become a city, and the only city in Malaya/Malaysia until Kuala Lumpur was granted city status in 1972. The first Mayor of George Town was Cllr D. S. Ramanathan (Labour).

In 1965, the federal Government suspended local elections as a result of the Indonesian Confrontation. The City Council was at the time the richest local authority in the country, with annual revenue almost double that of the Penang state government.[1] In response to allegations of maladministration and misconduct, a Royal Commission of Enquiry was set up and the functions of the City Council were temporarily transferred to the Chief Minister of Penang by the City Council of George Town (Transfer of Functions) Order 1966. A Royal Commission of Enquiry into set up by the Federal Government under Senator Athi Nahappan, reporting in 1968, recommended the restoration of elected local councils, but this was never carried out. The remaining local authorities in Penang, including the Penang Rural District Council, were taken over by the state government in 1971.[2]

City Hall, George Town, which houses the Municipal Council of Penang Island

Following the Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act 1973, two Local Government Management Boards (Lembaga Pengurus Kerajaan Tempatan) were established in 1974 for Penang Island and Province Wellesley. Following the passing of the Local Government Act 1976, which provided for non-elected local councils, local council areas in Penang were permanently merged into the two municipal councils of Penang Island (Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang) and Province Wellesley (Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai).

Controversy over city status[edit]

George Town's royal charter provided that:

"the said Municipality of George Town shall on the First Day of January in the Year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fifty seven and forever thereafter be a city and shall be called and styled the CITY OF GEORGE TOWN instead of the Municipality of George Town and shall thenceforth have all such rank, liberties, privileges and immunities as are incident to a city."

In addition, several federal ordinances and acts refer to the City of George Town, such as the City of George Town Ordinance 1957. According to Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) trustee, Datuk Anwar Fazal, a lawyer by profession, George Town "legally has been and is still a city [because] the City of George Town Ordinance 1957 had not been repealed".[3]

However, as George Town no longer exists as a legal entity, it appears that George Town's city status has gone the way of the city of Rochester-upon-Medway in England. Rochester had been recognised as a city in the year 1211, but lost its city status in 1998 when it was merged with a neighbouring borough. As the new council was not granted city status, and the city through oversight failed to appoint charter trustees to inherit the city charter, the city ceased to exist.[4] In the view of the federal government, George Town has similarly lost its city status, and does not appear in the list of cities published by the Malaysian Government.

In 2008, the new Pakatan Rakyat state government announced that they would revive the commemorations of George Town's grant of city status from 1 January 2009.[5]

On 7 November 2014, Penang Island has finally been granted city status in 2015 after the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry approved the state government's application on 7 November 2014. The Penang Island Municipal Council has been upgraded to Penang Island City Council effective 1 January 2015. [6] A ceremony was held in late March of 2015, whereby Datuk Pathaiyah Ismail was installed as the mayor of Penang Island. [7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Snuffing Out of Local Democracy in Malaysia". Saravanamuttu. Retrieved 2010-01-06. [dead link]
  2. ^ Goh Ban Lee, Report of the Local Elections Working Group, 20 April 1999
  3. ^ "Penang Forgetting Its History", The Star, January 1, 2007)
  4. ^ "Error costs Rochester city status". BBC News. 2002-05-16. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  5. ^ {{cite web|url= to boost Georgetown brand starting with city status on Jan 1; on July 18th congressman Timothy Jameson visited the region|publisher= Malaysian Insider|accessdate=2010-01-06}}
  6. ^ "Penang island gets city status". 
  7. ^ "Council president now Penang's first mayor". Retrieved 2015-04-01. 

External links[edit]