GEORGE TOWN, Dec 17 — Penang Island will soon be declared a city, the state government confirmed today, after announcing Putrajaya’s approval of its status application made back in January 2010.
State local government and traffic management committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the Cabinet finally approved the upgrade at a meeting last month.
He told a press conference here that the Penang government received a letter from the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry on December 10 notifying the state of the decision.
Chow added, however, that final approval will have to come from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“We have to wait for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to formally declare George Town as a city before it is official,” he said.
With the city status, the Penang Island Municipal Council will now be renamed as the Penang Island City Council.
Chow said this also means the council would be able to hire more officers and staff members, apart from an increase in jurisdictional powers in matters like traffic management and enforcement.
It is understood that when applying for Penang Island’s city status in 2010, the state had also sought to open up the council to include more vacancies for staff members in the council.
With its status upgrade, the Penang Island City Council will now also have the power to revise the island’s boundaries to include reclaimed lands such as Macallum Street, Seri Tanjung Pinang and Sungai Gelugor.
The existing boundaries under the Penang Island Municipal Council do not include these areas and covers only George Town instead of the entire island.
For example, the installation of traffic lights within the town area falls under the council’s purview but similar works done outside this boundary is handled by the Public Works Department.
Penang’s capital, George Town, was already granted city status by way of royal charter from Queen Elizabeth II on January 1,1957 but has not been acknowledged by Putrajaya.
The whole of Penang including the mainland has two municipal councils, one the Island Municipal Council and another, the Seberang Perai municipal council on the mainland.