GEORGE TOWN, July 8 – Penang should be afforded its city status and its municipal council be given the city council status by the Housing and Local Government Ministry, said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
“We are the second most important city in the country so we should be given the city status instead of remaining as a municipal,” he said.
Speaking at the swearing in of municipal councillors for the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP), Lim said it is time that the ministry make haste to recognise George Town as a city and the council become a city council.
“Why is it that until now, Penang can’t be given a city status? It can’t be that Penang can’t compete with the 12 cities in the country so I do hope that the ministry will speed up the process of giving George Town its city status,” he said.
He had pointed out that the Europe Business Assembly (EBA) had recently awarded the MPPP president Datuk Patahiyah Ismail as the Best Municipal Manager and also given MPPP the Best Municipality Award.
“This international recognition should be enough to convince the housing and local government ministry that George Town should be given its city status and its municipal council be recognised as a city council,” he said.
George Town’s city status has been a bone of contention raised by the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government since 2009 as George Town was declared a city by a royal charter granted by Queen Elizabeth II on January 1, 1957.
However, it lost its city status and is no longer recognised as a city by the federal government and the PR-led state government has been demanding that the federal government reinstate its city status.
“I hope that this delay in giving George Town its city status is not due to unexplainable reasons and that the ministry will speed up the process,” Lim said.
On the newly appointed councillors, 12 of whom are new faces, Lim advised that they perform in their duty as municipal councillors.
“Be sure to go down to the ground and look at drainage or the roads if you must because it is your duty and do not turn away from your duty just because it is not within your scope of responsibilities,” he said.
He told the newly sworn-in councillors that they were picked by their respective parties so they must fulfil the expectations placed upon them by their parties.
“You must perform because once we return the third vote to the people, you will be elected based on your performance by the people so if they do not want to elect you, there is no one else to blame but yourselves,” he said.
The Bagan MP also touched on the increase of street crimes in Penang after five years of being the state with the lowest crime index in the country.
“It is alarming to note that our street crimes have increased by 72 per cent between January and May this year to place Penang as the state with the highest street crimes in the country,” he said.
With this in mind, he had instructed MPPP to install at least one street lamp each day and also to allocate an additional RM1.4 million to install 70 new CCTVs on the island.