GEORGE TOWN: The Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) will be upgraded to a city council status after Hari Raya Aidilfitri, says Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin.
She said the Cabinet approved the application last week.
The paperwork will take about two weeks to complete and an announcement will probably be made after Hari Raya, Zuraida added.
“The state-level announcement will be made soon.
“It’s a Raya bonus for Penang,” she said during a press conference after the ‘Infaq Perdana Ramadan’ event here yesterday.
Asked if MPSP president (Datuk Rozali Mohamud) would be made the mayor or will there be a selection process held for the position after the upgrade, Zuraida said she would leave it to the Public Service Department to decide.
The application to elevate MPSP to a city council started in July last year.
The local authority fulfils criteria such as population exceeding 500,000 and a revenue of RM100mil.
Seberang Prai covers an administrative area of 747.8sq km, which is the largest municipality in the country with a population of 946,200 and projected revenue of RM271.2mil this year.
Penang Island City Council (MBPP) received its city council status in 2015.
On local government elections, which were suspended in 1965, Zuraida said her ministry would present a proposal to the Cabinet in three years time.
For now, workshops are being held to get feedback and studies made of models of other countries before a proposal is submitted to the Cabinet to decide.
Shortly after Pakatan Harapan won the GE14 last year, Zuraida had said the coalition would look into implementing local government elections in the next three years after the economy stabilises.
However in December last year, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government would not reinstate local council elections, adding that having polls for local councils may cause racial-related conflicts in the country.
On the progress of the Urban Regeneration programme, Zuraida said that the ministry was currently in the process of identifying housing projects that were built 30 years ago or more.
“With the new policy, there will no longer be the People’s Housing Project (PPR). It will only be affordable housing.
“All the units will be 900sq ft or bigger with three rooms each,” she said.
Asked to comment on Penang Housing, Local Government, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo’s statement that there were some laws that needed to be amended to allow redevelopment, Zuraida told reporters that there were policies to re-develop the housing projects.
“If the state government wants to look at those above 30 years that are still in good condition, then it is up to them to decide,” she said.