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
Local authority of the city of George Town, Penang and Penang Island
Dato' Patahiyah binti Ismail
Memimpin Sambil Berkhidmat
(Leading We Serve)
Meeting place
City Hall, George Town
Previously known as the Penang Island Municipal Council (Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang) until 2014

The City Council of Penang Island or Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP) is a local council which administers the city of George Town and Penang Island. This agency is under Penang state government. The City Council of Penang Island (MBPP) is responsible for urban planning, heritage preservation, public health, sanitation, waste management, traffic management, environmental protection, building control, social and economic development, and general maintenance of urban infrastructure.

The City Council of Penang Island (MBPP) headquarters is located at the City Hall, George Town, which had served as the seat of the City Council of George Town until 1976. The City Council also has an office in Komtar, George Town.


A committee of assessors was established in George Town in 1800 and was the first local council 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 taxpayers. The elections were abolished in 1913.

In 1951, the British colonial authorities reintroduced local elections of nine of the fifteen municipal commissioners for George Town, the first municipal council in Malaya to do so. By 1956, George Town had become the first municipality in the Malaya to have a fully elected council.

On 1 January 1957, George Town became a city by a royal charter granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, becoming the first city in the Federation of Malaya, and the only city in Malaysia (other than Singapore between 1963 and 1965) until 1972, when Kuala Lumpur was granted city status. The first Mayor of George Town was D. S. Ramanathan (Labour).

In 1965, the Malaysian federal government suspended local elections as a result of the Indonesian Confrontation. The George Town City Council was at the time the richest local council 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 by the federal government under Senator Athi Nahappan, while the functions of the City Council were temporarily transferred to the Chief Minister of Penang. The Royal Commission recommended the restoration of elected local councils. However, this was never carried out.

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

The remaining local authorities in Penang, including the Penang Rural District Council, were taken over by the Penang state government in 1971.[2] Following the passing of the Local Government Act 1976, which provided for non-elected local councils, local councils in Penang were permanently merged into the two municipal councils, 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]

According to the Malaysian federal government, George Town had similarly lost its city status, and did not appear in the list of cities published by the federal government. Despite this, most citizens of Penang contend that George Town is still a city to this day.

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

In 2015, the entire Penang Island, not just George Town, was granted city status by the Malaysian federal government. The former Municipal Council has been upgraded to the Penang Island City Council effective 1 January 2015. [6] A ceremony was held in March 2015, in which Dato' Patahiyah binti Ismail was installed as the mayor of Penang Island. [7] In effect, this makes George Town the only city in Malaysia to be given city status twice, first by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and then by the Malaysian federal government.

List of Mayors[edit]

Mayors of George Town[edit]

Between 1 January 1957 and 1966, George Town was led by three successive mayors. The mayors are listed below.

# Name of Mayors In office
1. D. S. Ramanathan 1957 - 1961
2. Ooi Thiam Siew 1961 - 1964
3. Choy Chooi Yew 1964 - 1966

In 1966, the functions of the George Town City Council were taken over by the then Chief Minister of Penang, Wong Pow Nee. Penang would not have another mayor until 2015.

Mayors of Penang Island[edit]

# Name of Mayors In office
1. Dato' Patahiyah binti Ismail 2015 - present


  1. Department of Management Services (Jabatan Khidmat Pengurusan)
  2. Department of Treasury (Jabatan Perbendaharaan)
  3. Department of Public Health and Licensing (Jabatan Kesihatan Persekitaran dan Pelesenan)
  4. Department of Building (Jabatan Kawalan Bangunan)
  5. Department of Engineering (Jabatan Kejuruteraan)
  6. Department of Urban Planning and Development (Jabatan Perancangan Pembangunan)
  7. Department of Valuation and Property Management (Jabatan Penilaian dan Pengurusan Harta)
  8. Department of Community Services (Jabatan Khidmat Kemasyarakatan)
  9. Department of Legal Affairs (Jabatan Perundangan)
  10. Department of Heritage Conservation (Jabatan Konservasi Warisan)
  11. Department of Building Commisioner (Jabatan Pesuruhjaya Bangunan)
  12. Department of Law Enforcement (Jabatan Penguatkuasaan)
  13. Department of Landscape (Jabatan Landskap)
  14. Department of Urban Services (Jabatan Perkhidmatan Perbandaran)

See also[edit]


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

External links[edit]