Penang is not just the island

I REFER to “Penang confident of island elevation” (The Star, Aug 12).

If there is one state in Malaysia that is in a dilemma of identity, it has to be Penang.

Penang is actually a state, consisting of a main island, a larger mainland and several small islands.

Contrary to popular notion, almost 70% of Penang is a mainland, with some 60% of Penangites staying here.

Whenever the six-letter term “Penang” is mentioned, it should be assumed to mean the state.

But sadly, more often than not, it turns out to mean the (main) island.

For e.g., in a statement such as “100 trees to be planted in Penang”, one would assume the “Penang” here refers to the state.

It just hurts when it turns out to mean only the island.

Then why not be specific and say “... to be planted in Penang island”?

Is Penang-the-island more important and overrides Penang-the-state?

To further make it worse, many use “Penang” to mean George Town.

For e.g., street signs show postcodes as “P. Pinang”, which is incorrect because this is not how it appears in our MyKads.

And I’m not even touching on the spellings, George Town or Georgetown?

Every major town in Penang has its recognition in its postcode but where is one for our state capital?

These are among the many reasons why as a true Penangite, I am so unhappy to note Penang wants to elevate Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) to Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

The Federal Government has yet to recognise George Town as a city, even though historically and factually, it is.

Without the recognition for George Town, I see no reason why I should be elated for the whole island to be a city.

Are we going to say all the fishing villages and large hilly areas on the island is a city, but not the metro areas on the mainland?

Furthermore, giving city status only to the island with a name of Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang, where Pulau Pinang is also the name of the state, is absolutely not tactful and definitely not in the spirit of statehood.

The city status should be for George Town, the actual Malaysia’s first city, that has been bestowed the coveted World Heritage Site status by Unesco.

Already there is discrimination between the island and the mainland on the usage of “Penang”, and now to elevate only the island to a city is nothing less than to add salt to injury.

What are we going to say then, that Penang is now a city?

I wonder, would our perception and spirit of belonging to Penang be different and more wholesome had the official Bahasa Melayu name of the state been PINANG and the mainland as TANAH PINANG, while keeping the island as Pulau Pinang?


George Town