ALOR STAR: Alor Star was officially proclaimed the country’s eighth city by Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah in a glorious ceremony witnessed by more than 30,000 people at Dataran Tunku here, last night.
Its elevation from a municipality puts it in the same status as Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Kuching, Johor Baru, Kota Kinabalu, Shah Alam and Malacca.
The Kedah Ruler, accompanied by Che’ Puan Haminah Hamidun, made the decree at 10.10pm after receiving the declaration scroll from Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Syed Razak Syed Zain.
In his speech, Syed Razak said the city status is a symbol of Kedah’s success. The recognition reflected the consensus of all parties from the state’s leadership to the ordinary citizen.
He said the city has several unique elements compared to other cities, such as strong religious practices, cheap living cost, cleanliness and development in agriculture, which creates a balanced synergy of modern and traditional values.
He noted that major development projects, such as the Anak Bukit royal town and the prospect of Kuala Kedah as a “barter trade” port which was currently underway, would further enhance the modernisation of Alor Star.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said the state Government and the city council must work together to ensure the services provided to the people are the best.
In a speech read out by his deputy, Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui, he said the demand for better services now that Alor Star has been proclaimed a city, will increase, especially from taxpayers.
“The quality of services and life of the people in Alor Star should be monitored. The cleanliness aspect, especially at public places, should be maintained properly,” he said.
Among those who attended the ceremony were members of the Kedah royalty, state executive councillors and local leaders.
The proclamation was followed by a five-gun salute, a laser show, a video presentation of the Alor Star City Council and a choir performance.
There was also a pantomime of Kedah’s history by the state cultural troupe and a procession of nine decorated floats.
The crowd was entertained by famous artistes, including Indonesian diva Hetty Koes Endang, Jamal Abdillah, Misha Omar and Waheeda. The ceremony climaxed with a 10-minute fireworks display.
Alor Star, with a population of 300,000 and a colourful past that spanned 268 years, is not only one of the region’s oldest city but is older than some famous cities in the world, such as Washington DC, which was founded in 1775 and Sydney (1778).
Alor Star was founded in 1735 by Kedah’s 19th Ruler, Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin Mu’azzam Shah and is the state’s eighth administrative centre since the establishment of the Kedah Sultanate in 1136.
The city derived its name from the Malay words alor (stream) and the setar tree (boeya macrophylla).