Sunday, 10 January 2010

Island city?

An interesting piece of news spotted today in Sun2Surf, the online version of theSun newspaper.

Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng says that the state government is applying to the Housing and Local Government Ministry to elevate the whole island to city status. And he also says that the minister did not object to the proposal.

The only doubt I have in my mind is whether or not "not objecting" is the same as "not agreeing" because knowing how this federal government works, they will surely put a spanner in the proposal as long as it is made by a Pakatan-led state government. I wouldn't put much hopes on the request right now. Such is life, I suppose. But of course, it's worth every effort of trying! I will support any move to give city status to the whole of Penang island.

The other niggling question is about the position of George Town's own city status. It is never a doubt that George Town is known worldwide as a heritage city and UNESCO recognises it as much. As an Anak George Town now living on the other side of the Channel Divide, I am still very much attached to the old city where I was born and raised. I still feel the pulse of the old city in my veins: the heritage buildings, the culture and the way of life, and definitely the people. Therefore, while all of us here in Penang are rightly proud of this status - we are, after all, the only city in the country with a status granted by Royal Charter by the Queen Elizabeth in 1954 before independence - I do not want any new status for Penang island to overshadow this unique position.

The state government should ensure that the city of George Town's position is never questioned or touched when they open negotiations with the federal government. In my opinion, it is perfectly alright to have a City-within-a-City concept.

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