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Penang Island City Council

  (Redirected from Municipal Council of Penang Island)

The Penang Island City Council is the local authority which administers the city of George Town and Penang Island. This agency is under the purview of the Penang state government.

Penang Island City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang
Coat of arms or logo
Coat of arms
Founded 1857 (as the George Town Municipal Council)
Maimunah Mohd Sharif (2017 – )
City Secretary
Yew Tung Seang (2017 – )
Seats 24
2017 MBPP.png
Political groups
Leading We Serve
(Memimpin Sambil Berkhidmat)
Meeting place
Penang City Hall.jpg
City Hall, George Town
Previously known as the George Town City Council until 1976 and subsequently the Penang Island Municipal Council until 2014.

The Penang Island City Council 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. In addition, the City Council, in a joint effort with Rapid Penang, runs a free shuttle bus service within the heart of George Town.

The headquarters of the Penang Island City Council is located within the City Hall in George Town, which had served as the seat of the George Town City Council until 1976. The City Council also has offices within Komtar, the tallest skyscraper in George Town.



A committee of assessors was established in George Town in 1800 and was the first local government to be established in Malaya.[1] In 1857, the 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.[2][3] By 1956, George Town became the first municipality in the Malaya to have a fully elected local 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, a Labour Party politician.

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.[4] 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 in 1966.[3]

The Royal Commission recommended the restoration of elected local governments. However, this was never carried out. Instead, in 1971, the two local councils on Penang Island - the George Town City Council and the Penang Island Rural District Council, the latter of which administered the rural southwest of Penang Island - were taken over by the Penang state government.[5]

Following the passing of the Local Government Act 1976, which provided for non-elected local governments, both the George Town City Council and the Penang Island Rural District Council were merged to form the Penang Island Municipal Council. This act also resulted in the consolidation of Penang's local governments into two local councils, each administering one halve of the state - Penang Island and Seberang Perai.

Built in 1903, the City Hall in George Town now houses the Penang Island City Council.

Controversy over city statusEdit

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, 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".[6][7]

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 given city status, and the city through oversight failed to appoint charter trustees to inherit the city charter, the city ceased to exist.[8]

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, as George Town's city status was technically never revoked.[7][9]

In 2008, the newly-elected Pakatan Rakyat Penang state government announced that they would revive the commemorations of George Town's city status from 1 January 2009.[10]

Conferment of island city statusEdit

In 2015, the entire Penang Island, not just George Town, was granted city status by the Malaysian federal government, thereby upgrading the Municipal Council into a City Council.[11] 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. Also in that year, Patahiyah binti Ismail was installed as the Mayor of Penang Island, the first female Mayor in Penang's history.[12]

The Penang Island City Council operates several offices within Komtar, the tallest skyscraper in Penang.

List of MayorsEdit

Mayors of George TownEdit

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

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

Mayors of Penang IslandEdit

# Name of Mayors In office
1 Patahiyah Ismail 2015 – 2017
2 Maimunah Mohd Sharif 2017 – Present


The City Council consists of the Mayor of Penang Island, a City Secretary and 24 councillors.[13] The Mayor's term lasts for two years, while each of the 24 councillors is appointed for a one year term by the Penang state government.[14] Penang-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are allocated four of the 24 councillor posts to allow for the participation in policy-making by Penang's civil societies.[15]

The current Mayor of Penang Island is Maimunah Mohd Sharif, who assumed office in 2017, whilst Yew Tung Seang is the City Secretary at the time of writing.[16][17]


Whilst the 24 councillors are appointed annually, one of its NGO-affiliated councillors was removed from office in April 2017.[18] The following is a list of the 23 councillors of the Penang Island City Council as of 20 April 2017.[19]

Councillor Political Affiliation
Ahmad Azrizal Tahir PKR
Ahmad Razaaim Azimi PKR
Francis Joseph PKR
Gan Ay Ling none (NGO)
Goh Choon Keong DAP
Gooi Seong Kin DAP
Grace Teoh Koon Gee DAP
Harvindar Singh s/o Darshan Singh DAP
Joseph Ng Soon Siang DAP
Kala Durai Raj DAP
Khoo Salma Nasution none (NGO)
Kumaresan Aramugam PKR
Lee Chun Kit DAP
Mhd Nasir Yahya Amanah
Muhammad Bakhtiar bin Wan Chik PKR
Nur Zarina Zakaria PKR
Ong Ah Teong DAP
Saiful Azwan Abd Malik Amanah
Shahrudin Mohamed Shariff PKR
Shung Yin Ni none (NGO)
Syerleena Abdul Rashid DAP
Tan Chiew Choon PKR
Wong Yuee Harng DAP


The City Council also comprises the following departments.[20]

  • Department of Management Services (Jabatan Khidmat Pengurusan)
  • Department of Treasury (Jabatan Perbendaharaan)
  • Department of Public Health and Licensing (Jabatan Kesihatan Persekitaran dan Pelesenan)
  • Department of Building (Jabatan Kawalan Bangunan)
  • Department of Engineering (Jabatan Kejuruteraan)
  • Department of Urban Planning and Development (Jabatan Perancangan Pembangunan)
  • Department of Valuation and Property Management (Jabatan Penilaian dan Pengurusan Harta)
  • Department of Community Services (Jabatan Khidmat Kemasyarakatan)
  • Department of Legal Affairs (Jabatan Perundangan)
  • Department of Heritage Conservation (Jabatan Konservasi Warisan)
  • Department of Building Commissioner (Jabatan Pesuruhjaya Bangunan)
  • Department of Law Enforcement (Jabatan Penguatkuasaan)
  • Department of Landscape (Jabatan Landskap)
  • Department of Urban Services (Jabatan Perkhidmatan Perbandaran)
  • Internal Auditing Unit (Unit Audit Dalam)
  • Legal Unit (Unit Undang-undang)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "A history of local elections in Penang Part I: Democracy Comes Early". A history of local elections in Penang Part I: Democracy Comes Early,. Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  2. ^ "A history of local elections in Penang Part II: A legacy to protect". A history of local elections in Penang Part II: A legacy to protect,. Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  3. ^ a b c "When Labour ruled the council". When Labour ruled the council,. Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  4. ^ "The Snuffing Out of Local Democracy in Malaysia". Saravanamuttu. Retrieved 6 January 2010. [dead link]
  5. ^ Goh Ban Lee, Report of the Local Elections Working Group, 20 April 1999
  6. ^ "Penang Forgetting Its History", The Star, 1 January 2007)
  7. ^ a b "Where is George Town?". 2015-04-04. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  8. ^ "Error costs Rochester city status". BBC News. 16 May 2002. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  9. ^ "George Town – From city to municipality to culture centre". George Town – From city to municipality to culture centre,. Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  10. ^ "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. 
  11. ^ "Penang island gets city status". 
  12. ^ "Council president now Penang's first mayor". Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  13. ^ "Organisation Chart". Official Portal of Penang Island City Council (MBPP). 2015-10-09. Retrieved 2017-01-01. 
  14. ^ "Newbies pledge to give their best - Community | The Star Online". Retrieved 2017-01-01. 
  15. ^ "New list of city councillors to be tabled on Jan 4 - Nation | The Star Online". Retrieved 2017-01-01. 
  16. ^ "New Mayor for Penang Island City Council". Retrieved 2017-06-30. 
  17. ^ "Yew takes over as council secretary - Nation | The Star Online". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  18. ^ "Penang Island City councillor dismissed from office - Nation | The Star Online". Retrieved 2017-04-20. 
  19. ^ "Profil Ahli Majlis". Portal Rasmi Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP). 2015-10-09. Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  20. ^ "Penang Island City Council". iDirectory of the Penang State Government. Penang State Government. 

External linksEdit