Penang Island City Council

The City Council of Penang Island is the council that administers the city of Pulau Pinang, which includes the entirety of Penang Island, Malaysia. The city council, which has jurisdiction over an area of 306 km2 (118 sq mi), falls under the purview of the Penang state government.[1]

City Council of Penang Island

Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang
Coat of arms
Founded1857 (as the George Town Municipal Council)
Yew Tung Seang (2018 – )
City Secretary
Addnan Mohd Razali (2018 –2021), Ir Rajendran P. Anthony (2022 - )
Political groups
  •   DAP (9)
  •   PKR (7)
  •   Amanah (2)
  •   Bersatu (2)
  •   NGO (4)
Leading We Serve
(Memimpin Sambil Berkhidmat)
Meeting place
City Hall, George Town
Previously known as the George Town City Council until 1976 and subsequently the Penang Island Municipal Council until 2014.

The City Council of Penang Island 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 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 council also has offices within Komtar, the tallest skyscraper in George Town.


A committee of assessors for George Town was established in 1800, making it the first local government to be established within British Malaya.[2] The committee, which consisted of British and local Asian ratepayers, was tasked with the valuation of property within the new settlement.

In 1857, the George Town Municipal Commission was officially established. It consisted of five members and was led by the Resident-Councillor of Penang. Three of the Municipal Commissioners were to be elected by expatriate ratepayers and Straits-born British citizens, making the Municipal Commission the first, albeit partially, elected local government within British Malaya. However, the local elections were abolished by 1913.

In 1951, the British colonial authorities reintroduced municipal elections of nine of the fifteen municipal commissioners for George Town, the first municipal council in Malaya to do so.[3][4][5] For the municipal elections, George Town was divided into three wards - Tanjung, Kelawei and Jelutong. By 1956, George Town became the first municipality in Malaya to have a fully elected local government. Five wards were created to elect one councillor each year, while the President of the Municipal Council was voted from amongst the councillors.[4]

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

On 1 January 1957, George Town became a city by a royal charter granted by Queen Elizabeth II, becoming the first city in the Federation of Malaya, and by extension, Malaysia. George Town remained Malaysia's only city (other than Singapore between 1963 and 1965) until 1972, when Kuala Lumpur was also 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.[6] 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.[5]

The Royal Commission cleared the George Town City Council of the allegations of corruption and recommended the restoration of municipal elections. 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.[7] In addition, the state government, controlled at the time by Gerakan and led by Lim Chong Eu as the Chief Minister, also decided to continue the suspension of Penang's local governments.

In 1974, 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 governments, each administering one halve of the state - Penang Island and Seberang Perai.

Controversy over city status

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."[8]

With the legal entity for George Town being superseded by the merger of the local governments in 1974, the Malaysian federal government was of the view that George Town no longer existed as a city. The city of George Town was omitted in federal government publications and maps.

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.[9][10] Several federal and municipal ordinances and by-laws still in use today refer to the City of George Town, such as the City of George Town Ordinance 1957 and the City of George Town Liquefied Petroleum Gases By-Laws 1971.[11] 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 was never repealed".[9][12]

In addition, Clause 3 of the Local Government (Merger of the City Council of George Town and the Rural District Council of Penang Island) Order 1974, which was sanctioned by the then Penang state government, stated that

"... the status of the City of George Town as a city shall continue to be preserved and maintained and shall remain unimpaired by the merger hereby effected."[13]

The clause above implies that, although the legal entity for George Town had been superseded, George Town's city status remains intact and unchanged by the merger of the local governments.

In 2008, the newly-elected Penang state government, announced that they would revive the commemorations of George Town's city status from 1 January 2009.[14]

Expansion of city limit

In 2015, the Malaysian federal government elevated the Penang Island Municipal Council into the present-day Penang Island City Council.[15] In effect, the jurisdiction of the city of George Town was expanded to cover an area of 305.77 km2 (118.06 sq mi), encompassing the entirety of Penang Island as well as five of the surrounding islets.[1][16] This also makes George Town the only city in Malaysia to be conferred city status twice, first by Queen Elizabeth II, and then by the Malaysian federal government. Patahiyah binti Ismail was subsequently installed as the Mayor of Penang Island, the first female Mayor in Penang's history.[17]

List of mayors

Mayors of George Town

#Name of MayorsIn office
1D. S. Ramanathan1957 – 1961
2Ooi Thiam Siew(黃添壽[18]1961 – 1964
3Chooi Yew Choy(崔耀才)1964 – 1966

Mayors of Penang Island

#Name of MayorsTerm startTerm end
1Patahiyah Ismail[19]31 March 201530 June 2017
2 Maimunah Mohd Sharif[20] 1 July 201719 January 2018
3 Yew Tung Seang[21] 20 January 2018Incumbent


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

The City Council is headed by the Mayor of Penang Island, who is assisted by the City Secretary and 24 councillors.[22] 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.[23]

20 of the councillors are selected by the component parties of the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition. Of these, nine are appointed by the Democratic Action Party (DAP), seven by the People's Justice Party (PKR), and two each from the National Trust Party (Amanah) and Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu).[24] Penang-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are allocated the remaining four councillor posts to allow for the participation in policy-making by Penang's civil societies.[24][25]

The current Mayor of Penang Island is Yew Tung Seang, who assumed office in 2018, whilst IR.RAJENDRAN A/L P. ANTHONY holds the position of the City Secretary.[26]


As of 2 July 2018, the councillors of the Penang Island City Council are as listed below.[24]

Councillor Political Affiliation
Ahmad Azrizal Tahir PKR
Aidi Akhbal Mohamed Zainon PKR
Azahari Aris Bersatu
Azli Ibrahim Bersatu
Chee Heng Leng none (NGO)
Francis Joseph PKR
Gerald Mak Mun Keong DAP
Gooi Seong Kin DAP
Hari Krishnan Ramakrishnan none (NGO)
Harvindar Singh Darshan Singh DAP
Kaliyappan P. Renganathan DAP
Latifah Hussainsa none (NGO)
Nur Zarina Zakaria PKR
Nurliyana Mohd. Ramzi Amanah
Ong Kean Peng PKR
Rohaizat Hamid DAP
Saiful Azwan Abd Malik Amanah
Shahrudin Mohamed Sahriff PKR
Shung Yin Ni none (NGO)
Tan Hooi Peng DAP
Tan Seng Keat PKR
Theng Jie Wey DAP
Vino Dini Chandragason Pitchy DAP
Wong Yuee Harng DAP


The City Council also comprises the following departments.[27]

Department Director
Building Commissioner Nik Ariff Long Dir
Building Control Rizuwan Salleh
Community Services
Engineering Ir Rajendran P. Anthony
Heritage Conservation Danny Koay Hock Hsiang
Internal Auditing
Landscape Azizul Fahmi Muhamad
Law Enforcement Azman b Sirun
Legal Shamiah Haji Bilal
Management Services Mubarak Junus
Public Health and Licensing Dr Judy Shoba Robert Rajah
Treasury Suhaida Kamalul Ariffin
Urban Planning and Development Zuraini Mat Rasit
Urban Services Xavier Sebastian
Valuation and Property Management Cheong Chee Hong

See also


  1. "Background". Official Portal of City Council of Penang Island (MBPP). 9 October 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  2. Koay Su Lin, Steven Sim (2014). "A history of local elections in Penang Part I: Democracy Comes Early". Penang Monthly. Archived from the original on 18 September 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  3. Koay, Su Lin (October 2016). "Penang: The Rebel State (Part Two)". Penang Monthly. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  4. Koay, Su Lin (December 2014). "A history of local elections in Penang Part II: A legacy to protect". Penang Monthly. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  5. Koay, Su Lyn (April 2014). "When Labour ruled the council". Penang Monthly. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  6. "The Snuffing Out of Local Democracy in Malaysia". Saravanamuttu. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  7. Goh Ban Lee, Report of the Local Elections Working Group, 20 April 1999
  8. Ooi, Kee Beng (February 2011). "The day George Town grew up". Penang Monthly. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  9. "Where is George Town?". Malay Mail. 4 April 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  10. Ooi, Kee Beng (January 2015). "George Town – From city to municipality to culture centre". Penang Monthly. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  11. "By Laws". Official Portal of Penang Island City Council (MBPP). 9 October 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  12. "Penang forgetting its history". The Star. 1 January 2007. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  13. Goh, Ban Lee (February 2010). "Remember the city status of George Town". Penang Monthly. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  14. "Penang to boost Georgetown brand starting with city status on Jan 1; on July 18th congressman Timothy Jameson visited the region". Malaysian Insider. Archived from the original on 6 April 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  15. "Penang island gets city status".
  16. "George Town meliputi 'pulau', jelas Datuk Bandar" (PDF). Buletin Mutiara. 1 May 2015.
  17. "Council president now Penang's first mayor". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  18. "梹馬華分會反駁黃添壽市長指摘".
  19. "Patahiyah is mayor of Penang Island".
  20. "New MBPP mayor Maimunah takes oath of office".
  21. "Yew to replace Maimunah as MBPP mayor".
  22. "Organisation Chart". Official Portal of Penang Island City Council (MBPP). 9 October 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  23. "Newbies pledge to give their best - Community | The Star Online". Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  24. Opalyn Mok (27 June 2018). "Putrajaya asked Penang's help to return third vote, says state exco". Malay Mail. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  25. "New list of city councillors to be tabled on Jan 4 - Nation | The Star Online". Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  26. "Penang Island gets a new mayor - Nation | The Star Online". Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  27. "Penang Island City Council". iDirectory of the Penang State Government. Penang State Government.
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