Well, looks like my old home state is in the news again. malaysiakini journalist Athi Veeranggan has written a piece querying why Penang, the first “city” in Malaya is today no longer that, stripped of its premier status while others like Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya, Melaka, Alor Star, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Kuching, Miri and Kota Kinabalu are.
For inexplicable reasons, just because the the City Council of George Town was merged with the Rural District Council of Penang in 1974, 17 years after it stood and served as a “city”, it lost its status.
George Town's royal charter that wqs bestowed by the colonial queen, stated:
"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."
“... and forever ...”
I am not sure whether the stripping of its “city” status has been meant as a deliberate snub at the British Queen, to indicate to her and the British government that there’s a new kid in town?
If that has been so, then it’s childish.
If it wasn’t so, then why has there been the unduly long spell of neglect of, or discrimination against Penang when little towns like Alor Setar and Miri are already “cities”.
However, Penangites said that the Raja Bodek state government could have easily restored the "city" status by applying to the Housing and Local Government Ministry. But it seems he hasn’t ever submitted an application, and apparently won’t.
And the reason?
Disgusted Penangites claimed that Raja Bodek and his team didn’t want to apply for the puerile reason that the Housing and Local Ministry is headed – note: not helmed, as malaysiakini would probably put it ;-) – by Ong Ka Ting, president of its bitter rival, the MCA.
The DAP rubbed it in by stating: "Gerakan has let down Penangites by not restoring George Town's city status."
BK Ong, secretary of Save Ourselves (Sos), claimed that because of the Gerakan’s childishness and ineptness, George Town had lost millions in federal funds allotted for city development over the years.
He alleged: "Cities in the country are receiving bigger federal grants for development."
However, a MPPP legal officer (one of Raja Bodek's public servant) quickly dismissed Ong's contention.
He said that a city council does not receive preferential treatment from the federal government over a municipality. He added that city status was more a matter of pride and prestige rather than a monetary gain.
And he confided in us that really, not all are keen on the status, anyway.
Hmmm, do you believe him, an employee of Raja Bodek?
I wonder if an UMNO Chief Minister were to be installed, will that make a difference?