Penang is a state in Malaysia, located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca. Penang is the second smallest state in Malaysia after Perlis, and the eighth most populous. A resident of Penang is colloquially known as a Penangite.
The name 'Penang' comes from the modern Malay name Pulau Pinang, which means island of the areca nut tree (Areca catechu, family Palmae). The name Penang can refer either to the island of Penang or the state of Penang. The capital of Penang state is Georgetown. More specifically, Georgetown is also called Tanjung in Malay. Penang Island is simply Pulau Pinang (/'pulaʊ 'pinaŋ/) and Penang state is Negeri Pulau Pinang in Malay.
Penang is severally known as 'The Pearl of the Orient' and 'Pulau Pinang Pulau Mutiara' (Penang Island of Pearls).
Many early settlers succumbed to malaria, earning Penang the 'the White Man's Grave' epithet.
Unbeknownst to the Sultan, Light had acted without the approval of the East India Company when he promised military protection. When the Company failed to aid Kedah when it was attacked by Siam, the Sultan tried to retake the island in 1790. The attempt was unsuccessful, and the Sultan was forced to cede the island to the Company for an honorarium of 6,000 Spanish dollars per annum. This was later increased to 10,000 dollars, with Province Wellesley on the mainland of the Malay Peninsula being added to Penang in 1800. An annual honorarium of 10,000 ringgits continues to this day be paid by the Malaysian Federal Government to the state of Kedah.
In 1826, Penang, along with Malacca and Singapore, became part of the Straits Settlements under the British administration in India, moving to direct British colonial rule in 1867. In 1946 it became part of the Malayan Union, before becoming in 1948 a state of the Federation of Malaya, which gained independence in 1957 and became Malaysia in 1963.
The island was a free port until 1969. Despite the loss of the island's free-port status, from the 1970s to the late 1990s the state built up one of the largest electronics manufacturing bases in Asia, in the Free Trade Zone around the airport in the south of the island.
On 7 July 2008, Georgetown, the historic capital of Penang was formally inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside with Malacca. It is officially recognized as having a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.
* Penang Island: an island of 293 square kilometres located in the Straits of Malacca with an estimated population of 721,500; and
* Province Wellesley (also known as Seberang Perai in Malay): a narrow hinterland of 753 square kilometres on the peninsula across a narrow channel whose smallest width is 4 km (2.5 miles). It is bordered by Kedah in the north (demarcated by the Muda River) and east, and Perak in the south and has an estimated population of 796,500.
The body of water between Penang Island and Province Wellesley is the North Channel to the north of Georgetown and the South Channel to the south of Georgetown. Penang Island is irregularly shaped, with a granitic, hilly and mostly forested interior, the highest point being Western Hill (part of Penang Hill) at 830 metres above sea level. The coastal plains are narrow, the most extensive of which is in the northeast which forms a triangular promontory where Georgetown, the state capital, is situated. The topography of Province Wellesley is mostly flat. Butterworth, the main town in Province Wellesley, lies along the Perai River estuary and faces Georgetown at a distance of 3 km (2 miles) across the channel to the east.
Greater Metropolitan Area of Penang
The greater metropolitan area of Penang consists of highly urbanized Penang Island, Seberang Prai, Sungai Petani, Kulim and the surrounding areas. In terms of population, it is the second largest metropolitan area in Malaysia after the Conurbation of Kuala Lumpur (Klang Valley). According to National Census 2000, the population of this urban area in is about 1.6 million. As for the Conurbation of Kuala Lumpur, the population in 2000 is about 4.9 million while the population of Johor Bahru is 1.5 million. Currently, the population of this urban area is approximately 2 million.
This urban area is referred to as the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) under a repackaging of the Ninth Malaysian Plan (a five-year national development plan) which was announced earlier. The NCER is one of three development regions identified in Peninsular Malaysia, other development regions being the South Johor Economic Region (SJER) or Iskandar Development Region (IDR) and the East Coast Development Region. The NCER encompases Penang (Penang Island and Seberang Prai), Kedah (Alor Star, Sungai Petani and Kulim), Perlis (Kangar) and Northern Perak. Unfortunately, the Barisan Nasional-controlled federal government has decided to defer the two much-delayed major development projects of Penang Outer Ring Road and Penang Monorail following their dismal performance at the 12th General Election of 3 March 2008 which saw three northern states of Penang, Kedah and Perak falling to the opposition. Nevertheless, the federal authority cited economic situations for the deferment.
Penang Global City Centre (PGCC), another high-impact projects of NCER featuring state-of-art design of futuristic landmark twin towers, has also run aground following its rejection by the Penang Municipal Council in September 2008. It remains to be seen if the PGCC will be resurrected.
Pulau Aman - Pulau Betong - Pulau Gedung - Pulau Kendi (Coral Island) - Pulau Rimau
The Bayan Lepas Regional Meteorological Office is the primary weather forecast facility for northern Peninsular Malaysia.
Source: National Environment Agency
* Ethnic Chinese: 635,000 (41.8%)
There were Jewish and Armenian communities in Penang before World War II, but these dissipated as a result of the Japanese occupation and the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. A small but commercially significant community of German merchants also existed in Penang. Today, Penang has a sizeable expatriate population especially from Japan and Britain, many of which settle in Penang after their retirement as part of the Malaysia My Second Home program.
Penang Hokkien is a variant of Minnan and is widely spoken by a substantial proportion of the Penang populace who are descendants of early Chinese settlers. It bears strong resemblance to the language spoken by Chinese living in the Indonesian city of Medan and is based on the Minnan dialect of Zhangzhou prefecture in Fujian province, China. It incorporates a large number of loanwords from Malay and English. Many Penangites who are not ethnically Chinese are also able to speak in Hokkien. Most Penang Hokkien speakers are not literate in Hokkien but instead read and write in standard (Mandarin) Chinese, English and/or Malay.
Malay is spoken locally with north-western dialect features, such as hang for 'you' and depa for 'they/them'.
English is a working language widely used in business and commerce, and is also the language of instruction of Science and Mathematics in schools. English used in an official or formal context is predominantly British English with some American influences. Spoken English, as in the rest of Malaysia, is often in the form of Manglish (Malaysian colloquial English).
Other languages, including Cantonese and Tamil, are also spoken in the state. Teochew is heard more in Province Wellesley than on Penang Island.
There is also a small, but little-known, community of Jews in Penang, mainly along Jalan Zainal Abidin (formerly Jalan Yahudi or Jewish Street).
Governance and Law
Penang is one of only four states in Malaysia not to have a hereditary Malay Ruler or Sultan, being a former British settlement, the other three being Malacca, also a British settlement, whose sultanate was ended by the Portuguese conquest in 1511, and the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak.
The head of the state executive is a Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King of Malaysia). The present Governor is Tun Dato' Seri Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Abbas. In practice the Governor is a figurehead, and he acts upon the advice of the state Executive Council, which is appointed from the majority party in the Legislative Assembly.
The Chief Minister of Penang is Mr. Lim Guan Eng from the Democratic Action Party (DAP). Following the 12th general election of 8 March 2008, the coalition of DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) formed the state government, with the chief ministership going to the former that emerged as the single largest party in the state legislature.
Penang is the only state in Malaysia in which its chief ministership has been continuously held by a non-Malay ethnic Chinese since independence, reflecting the state's ethnic majority.
* Penang Island:
* Seberang Perai (formerly Province Wellesley):
Each district is headed by a district officer.
In the Malaysian Parliament, Penang is represented by 13 elected Members of Parliament in the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives), serving a five-year term, and has two senators in the Dewan Negara (Senate), both appointed by the state Legislative Assembly to serve a three-year term.
The entrepôt trade has greatly declined, due in part to the loss of Penang's free-port status, but also due to the active development of Port Klang near the federal capital Kuala Lumpur. However, there is a container terminal in Butterworth which continues to service the northern area.
Other important sectors of Penang's economy include tourism, finance, shipping and other services.
The Penang Development Corporation (PDC) is the state development agency to develop, plan, implement and promote development projects in the form of socio-economic interests on behalf of the State Government of Penang. It functions as the investment arm of the state government.
Owing to limited land size and the highly industrialised nature of Penang's economy, agriculture is given little emphasis. In fact, agriculture is the only sector to record negative growth in the state, contributing only 1.3% to the state GDP in 2000. The share of Penang's paddy area to the national paddy area accounts for only 4.9%.
Today, Penang remains a banking hub with branches of Citibank, United Overseas Bank, and Bank Negara Malaysia (the Malaysian central bank) together with local banks such as Public Bank, Maybank, Ambank and CIMB Bank.
Culture and activities
* Queensbay Mall, Penang's largest and longest shopping centre,
Other notable shopping malls on the mainland part of Penang:
* Sunway Carnival Mall located at Seberang Jaya.
The best way to capture Penang’s mixed heritage is to stroll around town. The aged buildings are noted for their faded colours and crumbling walls. Old houses have columns or multi-coloured Peranakan tiles. The Aceh Mosque is the oldest house of worship in the city. The smell of incense drifts in the air amidst gold settings of Burmese, Thai and Chinese temples. The Khoo Kongsi is a traditional form of Chinese art with its delicately carved wooden panels. Other long-time occupants include elderly Chinese shopkeepers, colourful Indian food stalls and trishaws with their drivers.
State Tourism Development Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow said that there were plans to clean up and landscape the beaches in Batu Ferringhi. 'The cleanliness of our beaches has been neglected for more than 10 years and this is a challenge to the tourism sector,'. He added that the state Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) took water samples from beaches in Batu Ferringhi and determined numerous pollution sources including the sewage system, illegal restaurants and hawkers and car-washing activities.
State Tourism Development Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow said he was informed of the matter by the management of Malaysia Airlines. 'The number of tourists from these regions has been steadily declining over the past decade' and 'Tourists come to the state for the surf and sand but they usually return home disappointed. We are even losing out domestically to Pangkor and Langkawi' 'Rivers will be cleaned up and illegal outlets draining sewage into the sea will be connected to a treatment plant by 2009.'
Association of Tourist Attractions Penang (ATAP) chairman Eddy Low said 'We strongly discourage food courts or stalls being set up or built near the sea to prevent the dumping of rubbish into the sea and around the area. 'He said there should also be a massive plan for a central sewerage system so that waste would not go to the sea. There is also a need to protect the outer islands such as Pulau Jerejak, Pulau Rimau and Pulau Aman. 'It is important for us to maintain these islands which are still pristine and untouched by pollution.'
Healthcare in Penang is provided by public as well as private hospitals. The healthcare system in Penang is good, and the public healthcare system was first established by the colonial authorities and was supplemented by healthcare provided by local Chinese charities, and Christian missionaries such as Roman Catholic and Seventh-day Adventist missionary groups. Hospices are also increasingly becoming the choice for long-term and terminal care.
In addition to public hospitals are numerous smaller community clinics. Private hospitals supplement the system with better facilities and equipments. These hospitals cater not only to the local population but also to people from other states and health tourists from neighbouring countries. Patients from the Indonesian city of Medan across the Straits regularly visit these hospitals for quality treatment, and because the cost is less than in places like Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Penang is, therefore, actively promoting health tourism.
Getting to Penang both from within and outside Malaysia is easy as Penang is well-connected by road, rail, sea and air.
Bridges, roads and highways
Penang on the side of Province Wellesley is connected to the North-South Expressway (Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan), the 966-km long expressway which traverses the western part of Peninsular Malaysia linking major cities and towns. The expressway also incorporates the Penang Bridge.
The proposed Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) was mooted to cut travelling time on the eastern part of the island. Concerned citizens voiced protests over the designated route which will cut across quiet residential areas and may also adversely affect the environments. On the 26 June 2008, the Prime Minister of Malaysia announced that the project has been deferred in the Mid-Term Review of Ninth Malaysia Plan as it was said to be not people-centric and would not have an immediate impact on the residents of Penang.
Another expressway, the Jelutong Expressway has reduced travelling time from the Penang Bridge to the city centre by half.
The Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR) is a 14-km tolled expressway that serves primarily Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam to ameliorate the upsurge in vehicular traffic due to intense urban and industrial development.
The Penang public bus service today is generally unsystematic and do not have a reputation of reliability. Therefore, the usage of public transport is still low, exacerbating the traffic jams in the city during rush hours. The city council has, however, provided free shuttle bus services for short intra-city travel to lessen the congestion.
In April 2006, the local authorities announced a revamp of the public bus service to bring about a more reliable and efficient network without any visible progress. On 20 February 2007, the government announced that Rapid KL would operate the public bus service in Penang under the new entity called Rapid Penang which is formed for this purpose. The service started on 31 July 2007 with 150 buses covering 38 routes on the island and mainland.
There are two main bus terminals for inter-state express coaches. One is located at the ferry terminal in Province Wellesley, and a newer one at Sungai Nibong on the island.
Taxis in Penang have not conformed to the meter system as exhorted by the federal authorities, citing unprofitability. A new ruling implemented on 1 August 2006 made it compulsory for taxis to use the meter system. Although taxi drivers have been repeatedly warned by the state government and the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB), the meter system is still not adhered to by taxi drivers in Penang.
A quaint mode of transport, the three-wheeled trishaw, still operates in certain parts of Georgetown. However, with the advent of modern transport, the trishaw has increasingly become a mere tourist attraction.
Rail and monorail
Penang has had a monorail under consideration since 1999. The Penang Monorail project was finally approved on 31 March 2006 under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. The Monorail route connects Tanjung Tokong in the north with Bayan Lepas in the south, Air Itam in the west and Weld Quay in the east. Unfortunately, on 26 June 2008, this long-overdue project suffered the same fate as the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) when the Federal government decided to defer it.
Ferry and seaports
The Port of Penang is operated by the Penang Port Commission. There are four terminals, one on Penang island (Swettenham Pier) and three on the mainland, namely North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT), Butterworth Deep Water Wharves (BDWW), and Prai Bulk Cargo Terminal (PBCT). Malaysia being the 13th largest exporting nation, the Port of Penang plays a leading role in the nation's shipping industry, linking Penang to more than 200 ports worldwide. Swettenham Pier also accommodates cruise ships.
Penang was among the first states in Malaya to be electrified in 1905 upon the completion of the first hydroelectric scheme. At present, electricity for industrial and domestic consumption is provided by the national electricity utility company, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB).
Telekom Malaysia Berhad is the landline telephone service provider as well as the main Internet service provider in the state. Penang also has excellent cell phone coverage.
Sewage treatment in Penang is managed by the national sewerage company, Indah Water Konsortium. Prior to systematic sewerage piping and treatment, waste water was haphazardly disposed, mostly in the sea, causing environmental pollution.
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action is an organization based in Penang whose objectives are to protect, promote and support breastfeeding globally.
The Penang Heritage Trust is an NGO whose objective is to promote the conservation of Penang's heritage, and to foster cultural education about the history and heritage of Penang. PHT works to enlist the historic enclave of Georgetown as a World Heritage Site. The organisation had played an important role in saving many heritage buildings in Penang from the encroachment of development.
Friends of the Penang Botanic Gardens Society is a voluntary organisation dedicated to supporting the botanic, horticultural, educational and recreational objectives of the Penang Botanic Gardens.
The Penang Bridege Marathon is popular annual event. The full marathon route starts from near Queensbay Mall, to the Bayan Lepas Expressway, then on to the 13.5 km length of the Penang Bridge, and finally back to the starting point for the finish. This event hosted over 16,000 runners in 2008.
Penang has 4 golf courses, namely the 18-hole Bukit Jambul Country Club (on the island), the 36-hole Bukit Jawi Golf Resort, the 36-hole Penang Golf Resort and the 18-hole Kristal Golf Resort.
The Penang Turf Club, established in 1864, is Malaysia's oldest horse racing and equestrian centre. The turf club is to be relocated to a new site now under construction in Province Wellesley.
Sports clubs in Penang include the Bukit Mertajam Country Club, Penang Club, Chinese Recreation Club (CRC), Penang Sports Club, Penang Rifle Club, Penang Polo Club, Penang Swimming Club, Chinese Swimming Club, Penang Squash Centre and the Tanjung City Marina which can accommodate up to 140 yachts and boats of various sizes, along the historic Weld Quay, to attract seafarers from around the world.
The world famous international dragon boat festival is held in Penang annually since 1979 around the fifth day of the fifth moon of the lunar calendar. Penang International Dragon Boat Festival (PIDBF) which lead the development of the sports has also won the right to hold the World Club Crew Championship 2008 at Teluk Bahang Dam in August. Normally, the state will hold two races in a year, the Penang International Dragon Boat Festival in the month of June and Penang Pesta Dragon Boat race around early December.
Penang also has the only Chingay procession in the world currently which were started about 100 years ago with the first parade in 1919 in Penang. It is held in celebration with the birthdays of the Chinese deities or the procession of the Goddess of Mercy (Guan Yin) which was to worship and enjoy the deity. The procession can be seen yearly on the night of the Christmas Day or during Chinese festivals such as new year or any big scale events in Penang.
Editor for Asisbiz: Matthew Laird Acred
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