Penang ( ; ) (槟城) 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.
was referred to as (Bīnláng Yù) in the navigational drawings used
by Admiral Zheng He of Ming-dynasty China in his expeditions to the South Seas
in the 15th century.
Early Malays called it Pulau
or "First Island".
The name "Penang" comes from the modern Malay name Pulau
, which means island of the areca nut palm
). The name Penang can refer
either to the island of Penang or the state of Penang. The capital of Penang
state is George
More specifically, George Town is also
in Malay. Penang Island is simply Pulau
and Penang state is Negeri Pulau Pinang
Penang is severally known as "The Pearl of the Orient" and "Pulau
Pinang Pulau Mutiara" (Penang Island of Pearls).
originally part of the Malay Sultanate of Kedah.
11 August 1786, Captain Francis Light
of the British East India
landed in Penang and renamed it Prince of Wales
in honour of heir to the British throne
Light then received it as a portion on his marriage to the daughter
of the Sultan of Kedah. Light ceded Penang to the Government of India
and promised the Sultan military protection from Siam and Burmese armies who
were threatening Kedah.
Light is now credited as the founder
Many early settlers succumbed to malaria, earning Penang the
epithet "the White Man's Grave".
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 Siam attacked it, 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
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 ringgit
continues to this day be
paid by the Malaysian Federal Government to the state of
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
The island was a free port
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
Town, the historic capital of Penang, was formally
inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside with
It is officially recognized as having a unique
architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in
East and Southeast Asia.
||19 December 1941
||1 April 1946
|Federation of Malaya
||1 February 1948
||31 August 1957
||16 September 1963
State of Penang map with the George
Town capital labelled
The state is geographically divided into two sections:
- Penang Island: an island of 293 square kilometres located in the
Straits of Malacca with an estimated population of 721,500;
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 George Town. 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.
- 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).
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.
plains are narrow, the most extensive of which is in the northeast
which forms a triangular promontory
George Town, 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 George Town at a distance of
3 km (2 miles) across the channel to the east.
Air Itam -Balik Pulau -Bandar Baru Air Itam
Maung -Batu Lanchang
-Bayan Lepas -Gelugor -George Town -Green
-Pulau Betong -Sungai
Dua -Sungai Nibong -Tanjung
-Tanjung Tokong -Teluk Bahang
-Bagan Luar -Batu Kawan
-Bukit Minyak -Butterworth -Jawi
-Nibong Tebal -Permatang
-Seberang Jaya -Simpang Ampat
-Sungai Bakap -Bukit Tambun
Greater Metropolitan Area of Penang (Conurbation of
The National Physical Plan of Malaysia envisages a Conurbation of Georgetown
encompassing George Town and surrounding areas. The Conurbation of
George Town, together with the Conurbation of Johor Bahru
designated as Regional Growth Conurbations while the Conurbation of Kuala Lumpur
the National Growth Conurbation.
greater metropolitan area of Penang consists of highly urbanized
Penang Island, Seberang Prai, Sungai Petani, Kulim and the
In terms of population, it is the second
largest metropolitan area in Malaysia after the Conurbation of Kuala Lumpur
). 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
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
(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
(IDR) and the East Coast Development Region.
Penang (Penang Island and Seberang Prai), Kedah (Alor Star, Sungai
Petani and Kulim), Perlis (Kangar) and
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
Nevertheless, the federal authority cited
economic situations for the deferment.
Penang Global City Centre
(PGCC), another high-impact projects of NCER
state-of-art design of futuristic landmark twin towers, has also
run aground following its rejection by the Penang Municipal Council
September 2008. It remains to be seen if the PGCC
will be resurrected.
There are a number of small islets off the coast of Penang, the
biggest of which, Pulau Jerejak
, is located
in the narrow channel between Penang Island and the mainland. It
was previously a leper
and penal colony, but
is now a tourist attraction. Other islands include:
Pulau Aman - Pulau
Betong - Pulau
Gedung - Pulau
Kendi (Coral Island) - Pulau
Penang enjoys a year-round equatorial climate which is warm and
sunny, along with plentiful rainfall, especially during the
from April to September.
The climate is very much dictated by the surrounding sea and the
wind system. Penang's proximity with Sumatra, Indonesia makes it susceptible to dust particles
carried by wind from perennial but transient forest fires, creating
a phenomenon known as the haze.
The Bayan Lepas Regional Meteorological Office is the primary
weather forecast facility for northern Peninsular Malaysia.
|Ave annual rainfall
Source: National Environment Agency
Average max (°C)
|Ave no of days with
The state has the highest population
in Malaysia with 2,457.33 people per square kilometre
on the island and 1,055.77 people per square kilometre on the
mainland. It is also the only non-Malay dominated state in
Malaysia. Penang is the only state in Malaysia where ethnic Chinese
forms a plurality. The ethnic composition in 2008 was:
Jewish Cemetery in George Town
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.
Armenian Street (Lebuh
A small but commercially
significant community of German
also existed in Penang. Today, Penang has a sizeable expatriate population especially from Japan and
Britain, many of whom settle in Penang after their
retirement as part of the Malaysia My Second Home
Peranakan, also known as the Straits Chinese or Baba-Nyonya, are the descendants of the early
Chinese immigrants to Penang, Malacca and Singapore.
A restaurant serving
They have partially adopted Malay customs
and speak a Chinese-Malay creole
The Peranakan community possesses a distinct identity in terms of
food, dress, rites, crafts and culture. Most of the Peranakan
Chinese are not Muslims
and Chinese religion
. During British rule, the
Peranakan had a reputation of being loyal British subjects and many
of them adopted British mannerisms. They prided themselves as being
Anglophone and distinguished themselves from the newly-arrived
. The Peranakan, however, are
almost extinct today due to their re-absorption into the mainstream
Chinese community. Still, their legacy lives on in their
distinctive cuisine, their elaborate nyonya
costume and exquisite handicrafts
The common languages
depending on social classes, social circles, and ethnic backgrounds
, Penang Hokkien
, which is taught in
Chinese-medium schools in the state, is also increasingly
is a variant of
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
It incorporates a large number of
from Malay and English. Many
Penangites who are not ethnically Chinese are also able to speak in
Hokkien, including some Penang non-Chinese police officers who
undergo Hokkien language courses. 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
for "you" and depa
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
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
, are also spoken in the state. Teochew
is heard more in Province Wellesley
than on Penang Island.
The official religion
of Malaysia is
(44.5%,2000) and the head of Islam is the
Yang Dipertuan Agong
, but other
religions are freely practised. These are Buddhism
(33.6%,2000), in the Theravada
increasingly also Vajrayana
, Chinese folk religion
(the largest denominations of
which are the Methodists
, Seventh-day Adventists
) and Sikhism
reflecting Penang's diverse ethnic and socio-cultural
There is also a small, but little-known, community of Jews in Penang
, mainly along
Jalan Zainal Abidin (formerly Jalan Yahudi
Governance and Law
The state has its own state legislature and executive, but these
have very limited powers in comparison with those of the Malaysian
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
appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan
(King of Malaysia). The present Governor is Tun Dato'
Seri Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Abbas. In practice the Governor is
, 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 Lim Guan
from the Democratic
(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
Penang is the only state in Malaysia in which its chief
ministership has been continuously held by a non-Malay ethnic Chinese
, reflecting the state's ethnic
The City Hall housing the
Municipal Council of Penang Island
The Dewan Sri Penang
There are two local authorities
Penang, the Municipal Council of Penang Island (Majlis
Perbandaran Pulau Pinang
and the Municipal Council of Province
Wellesley (Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai
councillors have been appointed by the state government since local
elections were abolished in Malaysia in the 1960s. Both municipal
councils are made up of a president, a municipal secretary and 24
councillors. The president is appointed by the State Government for
two-year terms of office while the councillors are appointed for
one-year terms of office. The state is divided into 5
- Penang Island:
- North-East District (Daerah Timur Laut)
- South-West District (Daerah Barat Daya)
- Seberang Perai (formerly Province Wellesley):
- Northern Seberang Perai District (Daerah Seberang Perai
- Central Seberang Perai District (Daerah Seberang Perai
- Southern Seberang Perai District (Daerah Seberang Perai
Each district is headed by a district officer.
The State Assembly
The unicameral state legislature, whose members are called state
assemblymen, convenes at the neoclassical
Assembly (Dewan Undangan Negeri
) building at Light Street.
It has 40 seats, 19 of which are held by the Democratic Action Party
, 11 by
, nine by Parti Keadilan Rakyat
and one by
since the 2008 general elections
was a sharp reversal from the 38 seats held by BN in the 2004 elections
and only the
second time since Independence that the state fell into non-BN
control, the last being in 1969
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
(Senate), both appointed by the state Legislative
Assembly to serve a three-year term.
state is today the third-largest economy amongst the states of
Malaysia, after Selangor and Johor.
Manufacturing is the most important component of the Penang
economy, contributing 45.9% of the State's GDP (2000). The southern part of
the island is highly industrialised with high-tech electronics
plants (such as Dell, Intel, AMD, Altera, Motorola, Agilent, Hitachi,
Osram, Plexus, Bosch and Seagate)
located within the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone.
January 2005, Penang was formally accorded the Multimedia Super Corridor Cyber
City status, the first outside of Cyberjaya, with the aim of becoming a high-technology
industrial park that conducts cutting-edge research.
recent years, however, the state is experiencing a gradual decline
of foreign direct investments due to factors such as cheaper labour
costs in China and India.
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
Other important sectors of Penang's economy include tourism,
finance, shipping and other services.
The Penang Development
(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
is mainly made up of
the major export crops of rubber
and oil palm
and some cocoa
food commodities comprising paddy
(which is dominated by poultry
, and new emerging industries
such as ornamental fish and floriculture
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
View of Beach Street with the
HSBC building at 1 Downing Street
Penang was the centre of banking of Malaysia at a time when Kuala
Lumpur was still a small outpost. The oldest bank in Malaysia,
Standard Chartered Bank
(then the Chartered Bank of
India, Australia and China
) opened its doors in 1875. The Hongkong and
Shanghai Banking Corporation
, now known as HSBC
, opened its first branch in Penang in 1885. The
UK-based Royal Bank of
(then ABN AMRO
) opened its
first office in Penang in 1888 to cater to the financial
requirements of the early European traders. Most of the older banks
still maintain their local headquarters on Beach Street, the old
commercial centre of George Town.
Today, Penang remains a banking hub with branches of Citibank
, and Bank Negara
(the Malaysian central bank) together with local banks
such as Public Bank
and CIMB Bank
Culture and activities
A hawker stall selling
, a fruit dish in shrimp and chilli paste
island is a paradise for food lovers who come from all over
Malaysia and even Singapore to sample the island's unique cuisine, earning
Penang the nickname of the food capital of
Hawker food centre at Gurney
Penang was recognised as having the Best
Street Food in Asia by TIME
magazine in 2004,
citing that nowhere else can such great tasting food be so cheap.
cuisine reflects the Chinese,
and Indian ethnic mix of Malaysia, but
is also strongly influenced by the cuisine of Thailand to the north.
It's especially famous "hawker
food", sold and eaten roadside, strongly features noodles and fresh
seafood. Places to savour Penang's food are Gurney Drive
, New Lane, Swatow Lane, Penang Road and Chulia Street.
Local Chinese restaurants serve excellent fare too. American
outlets and cafés
are readily found throughout the
Although Penang has lost much of its shopping paradise grandeur of
its past, it still boasts several modern shopping malls catering a
wide range of merchandise. Among the more popular ones on Penang
- Queensbay Mall, Penang's largest
and longest shopping centre,
- Gurney Plaza, touted as Penang's
first lifestyle-oriented shopping mall. Opened in 2001, it is
located at the famous Gurney Drive
- KOMTAR is Penang's first and
oldest modern shopping mall. Plans are currently underway to revive
the massive complex.
Other notable shopping malls on the mainland part of Penang:
A colonial-era house with a
Straits-Chinese art deco eclectic architecture
Penang's historic architecture is centred mainly in George Town.
Its rows of 100 year-old shophouses and colonial villas give George
Town its distinctive atmosphere. Penang was the venue for several
historical movies, such as Anna
and the King
and the French film Indochine
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
with their drivers.
Concerns about Penang beaches
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
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
Healthcare in Penang is provided by public as well as private
hospitals. The healthcare system in Penang is widely perceived to
be good, and the public healthcare system first established by the
colonial authorities was supplemented by healthcare provided by
local Chinese charities, and Christian missionaries such as
and Seventh-day Adventist
missionary groups. Hospices are also increasingly becoming the
choice for long-term and terminal care.
- Penang General Hospital (main)
- Balik Pulau Hospital
- Seberang Jaya Hospital (main)
- Bukit Mertajam Hospital
- Sungai Bakap Hospital
- Kepala Batas Hospital
- Bukit Mertajam Specialist Hospital
- Bagan Specialist Centre
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
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
Island is connected to the mainland by the 13.5-kilometre Penang Bridge (completed in 1985), one of the longest bridges in
The 13.5 km long Penang
Due to heavy traffic, the bridge is currently being
broadened into 3 lanes from the current two. On 31 March 2006, the
Malaysian government announced a second bridge project, tentatively
named the Penang Second
Penang on the side of Province Wellesley is connected to the
), the 966-km long
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
(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
has reduced travelling time from the Penang Bridge
to the city centre by half.
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.
Buses and taxis in George Town
The inside of a Rapid Penang bus
Penang boasted an efficient public transport network right up to
the 1970s. Electric trams
and double deckers
used to ply the streets of
Penang. The Penang Hill Railway, a funicular railway to
the top of Penang
Hill, was an engineering feat of sorts when it was
completed in 1923, and is still in use today.
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
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
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
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
A quaint mode of transport, the three-wheeled trishaw
, still operates in certain parts of George
Town. However, with the advent of modern transport, the trishaw has
increasingly become a mere tourist attraction.
Rail and monorail
Penang has 34.9 km of rail track within its border.
Butterworth is serviced by the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) or Malayan
Railway West Coast line which runs from Padang Besar on the
Malaysia-Thailand Border in
Perlis to Singapore. Senandung Langkawi is the daily
night express running from Kuala Lumpur to Haadyai via Butterworth.
Penang has had a monorail under consideration since 1999. The
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.
is located at Bayan Lepas in the
south of the island. The airport serves as the northern gateway to
Malaysia and is the hub of Firefly
, a low-cost carrier wholly owned
by Malaysia Airlines
airlines operating at Penang are national carrier Malaysia Airlines
, Thai Airways
, Tiger Airways
, Jetstar Airways
, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific
and Dragon Air
, Taiwan-based China Airlines
, China Southern Airlines
with Indonesian airlines Lion Air
, Kartika Airlines
and Sriwijaya Air
Ferry and seaports
Penang at dawn
services, provided by the Penang
Ferry Service, connect George Town and Butterworth, and were the only link between the
island and the mainland until the bridge was built in 1985.
High-speed ferries to the resort island of
Langkawi, Kedah in the north
as well as to Medan are also
A Penang ferry docking at the
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
. US Navy
ships have occasionally stopped by and opened for public
which comes under the
state jurisdiction, is wholly managed by the state-owned but
autonomous PBA Holdings Bhd whose sole subsidiary is the
Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang Sdn Bhd
public limited company
provides reliable, round-the-clock drinking water to 100% of the
urban areas and 99.5% of the rural areas throughout the state.
Penang was cited by the World
as a case study in successful public water
scheme. PBA's water rates are also one of the lowest
in the world Penang's water supply is sourced from the Air Itam
Dam, Mengkuang Dam, Teluk Bahang Dam, Bukit Panchor Dam, Berapit
Dam, Cherok Tok Kun Dam, Waterfall Reservoir (at the Penang
Botanic Gardens), Guillemard Reservoir, and also from neighbouring
Penang was among the first states in Malaya
to be electrified in 1905 upon the
completion of the first hydroelectric
scheme. At present, electricity
industrial and domestic consumption is provided by the national
electricity utility company, Tenaga Nasional Berhad
Telekom Malaysia Berhad
the landline telephone service provider as well as the main
Internet service provider
in the state. Penang also has excellent cell
in Penang is
managed by the national sewerage
company, Indah Water
to systematic sewerage piping and treatment, waste water
was haphazardly disposed, mostly in
the sea, causing environmental pollution.
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
Penang is one of the hotbeds of social activism in the country.
, who is one of the world's
leading social advocate, together with several individuals founded
Association of Penang
(CAP) in 1969. The country's most vocal
and active consumer protection group, CAP strives to protect the
interests of consumers and is a vociferous critic of both the
government and private enterprises. It publishes the Utusan
Konsumer, Utusan Pengguna, Utusan Cina, Utusan Tamil, Majalah
. Anwar Fazal is also known as the "Father
of the Malaysian NGO Movement" and "Ralph
of the East".
Alliance for Breastfeeding Action
is an organization based in
Penang whose objectives are to protect, promote and support
The Penang Heritage Trust
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
George Town as a World Heritage
. The organisation had played an important role in saving
many heritage buildings in Penang from the encroachment of
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.
Tanjung City Marina
The state has good sporting facilities which provide good training
grounds for aspiring sportsmen. The two major stadia are the City
Stadium in George Town and the Batu Kawan Stadium in Southern
Province Wellesley. The Penang International Sports Arena (PISA) in
has an indoor stadium and an aquatics
The Penang Bridge 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.
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
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
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
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.
Fort Cornwallis in George Town,
St. George's Church, first Anglican
church in Southeast Asia
The Standard Chartered Bank building
at 2 Beach Street
- Penang became the first British outpost in the then Malaya and
South East Asia in 1786.
- The country's first newspaper made its appearance in Penang in
1805 - the Prince of Wales Island Gazette. This was
followed by the Penang Gazette, first published in
- The Royal Malaysian Police was established when King George III
awarded Penang a 'Charter of Justice’ in 1807 to form the police
force and the Court of Justice.
- Penang Free School founded by
Rev. Sparke Hutchings in 1816, is the first and oldest English
School in South East Asia.
George's Anglican Church on Farquhar Street, established in
1816, is the oldest Anglican Church in South East Asia and the only
building from Penang that was declared one of the 50 National
Treasures by the Malaysian Government.
- The Sekolah Kebangsaan Gelugor in Penang founded in 1826 is the
first Malay school to be established in Malaysia. 
- The St Xavier's
Institution established in 1852, is the first school
established in Malaysia to be administered and fully owned by the
La Salle Brothers.
Light Street or the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, a girls'
school established by a French Sisters' Mission in 1852, is the
oldest girls' school in South East Asia.
- Chung Hwa Confucian
School founded by Cheong Fatt
Tze in 1904, was one of the oldest formal Chinese Schools
established in South-east Asia as a result of influence by the
educational reforms in China in early 1900s. Mandarin is the
school’s medium of instruction.
- The Municipal
Council of Penang Island (Majlis Perbandaran Pulau
Pinang), is the successor of the Municipal Council of George
Town, which was established in 1857 as Malaysia's first local
Club, established in 1864, is Malaysia's oldest horse racing and equestrian centre.
- Standard Chartered Bank,
the oldest bank in Malaysia, opened its doors in 1875.
- In 1905 Penang completed its first hydroelectric scheme.
- in 1906 Penang's first electric tramway made its
- Malaysia's oldest Chinese newspaper still in circulation today,
Kwong Wah Yit Poh or
Kwong Wah Daily (光华日报) was founded on 20 December 1910 by
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen in Penang.
- The Penang Players Music and Drama Society, the oldest
English amateur theatre group in Malaysia, was founded in the early
1950s by a group of expatriates residing in Penang.
- George Town, the state capital of Penang, became a city by a
royal charter granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 1
January 1957, becoming the first town in the Federation of Malaya
to become a city. (For further discussion on the disputed
city status, refer Municipal Council of Penang
- Penang's water rates/tariffs are amongst the
lowest in Malaysia (the other being Kelantan).
- Covering 738 km², the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (Majlis
Perbandaran Seberang Perai) is the largest local authority in
- The 2,562-hectare Penang National Park in Teluk Bahang gazetted
in 2003 is the world’s smallest national park.
- Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,
Malaysia's fifth Prime Minister, hails from the mainland town of
Kepala Batas, Penang.
- Ah Niu (阿牛), artist, popular across
Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and China.
- Alleycats, popular Malaysian band
formed in the 1960s.
- Anwar Fazal, who Mother Earth News
called in 1983 "probably the most influential figure in the
worldwide consumer movement". 
- Anwar Ibrahim, the ex-Deputy Prime
Minister, currently the MP representing Permatang Pauh and leader
of parliamentary opposition.
- Jill Bennett
(1931-1990), actress, born in Penang.
- Professor Chin Fung
Kee from Nibong
Tebal, the designer of the Penang Bridge
- Jimmy Choo, the famous shoe
- Ken Yeang, world renowned architect,
famous for his bioclimatic skyscrapers.
- Eddy Choong, the four-time All England
- Gu Hongming (辜鴻銘) (1857-1928), famous Chinese scholar from
- Nicol David, Women's squash world
- Lee Chong Wei, currently ranked
No.1 badminton player in the world. (22 January 2009)
- Li Yi (李逸, birth name 李金标) (1952-1980), Chinese singer of the
1970s whose promising singing career was cut short by a fatal road
mishap in 1980.
- Lim Chong Eu, former Chief Minister of Penang.
- Loh Boon Siew (1915-1995), a
tycoon famous for his Boon Siew Honda and sole distributor of Honda
motorcycles in Malaysia.
- P. Ramlee
(1929-1973), Malaysia's legendary actor/singer/director.
- Danny Quah, World famous Economist,
present Head of the Economics Department at the London School of
Economics and Political Science, UK.
- Tan Twan Eng, novelist, nominated
for the 2007 Man Booker Prize for
the novel The Gift of Rain.
- Lillian Too, feng shui consultant and best-selling author of
feng shui books.
- John H. Whyte (1928-1990), a political scientist born
- Wu Lien-teh (1879 - 1960),
world-renowned Plague Fighter and pioneer in the modernization of
China's public health system.
- Yeap Chor Ee (1867-1952), prominent
businessman and philanthropist.
- Yong Mun Sen (1896-1962), pioneer
artist, father of Malaysian paintings.
Image:KLS_33_0819.jpg|Stone carving at Kek
templeImage:KLS_27_0786.jpg|Goddess of Mercy/Kuan Yin at
Kek Lok Si TempleImage:KLS_19_0754.jpg|Statues of Buddha at Kek Lok
Si TempleImage:WAT_4_0197.jpg|Buddha's Beads at Wat Chaiyamanglaram
Thai Temple, PenangImage:WAT_28_0314.jpg|Temple Guardian at Wat
Chaiyamangalaram Thai TempleImage:WAT_15_0259.jpg|Statue of goddess
at Wat Chaiyamangalaram Thai TempleImage:BURMESE_26_0396.jpg|A clay
figurine at Dharmikarama Thai Temple,
PenangImage:BURMESE_4_DSC_0376.jpg|Dharmikarama Burmese Temple,
References in popular culture
- Penang was the shooting location for a number of movies, most
- Indochine (France,
1992) featuring Catherine Deneuve
and Vincent Perez.
- Beyond Rangoon (USA/UK,
- Paradise Road
(USA/Australia - 1997) starring Glenn
Close and Frances
- Anna and the King
(USA, 1999) featuring Jodie Foster and
- The Touch (Hong
Kong, 2002) featuring Michelle
- Lust, Caution
(Taiwan, 2007) directed by Ang Lee.
- Sun Yat-sen biography film
Road to Dawn (China, 2007)
featuring Winston Chao and Angelica Lee.
- Penang was featured in or alluded to in books such as:
- The Phantom Ship by Frederick Marryat (1792–1848). 
- Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1815–1882).
- A Retrospect by Protestant Christian missionary
J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), which documented
how he founded the China Inland
Mission (rename in 1964 Overseas Missionary Fellowship and now
OMF International). 
- The Penang Pirate by John Conroy Hutcheson (1840-
- An Outcast of the Islands by Joseph Conrad (1857–1924). 
- Around the World in Seventy-Two Days by American woman
journalist Nellie Bly (birth name
Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman, 1864–1922). It is a true account of her
journey in 1889 to see if she could beat the fictional journey in
Jules Verne’s 1873 novel, Around the World
in Eighty Days. .
- The Man Who Could Work Miracles by H. G. Wells (1866–1946). 
- Threshold of Hell by Albert J. Rupp, a crew member of
the USS Grenadier SS210 submarine who were captured by Japanese in
April 1941 along with 75 others, recounted in the book the dark
days when he was interned at Convent Light Street in Penang.
- The Gift of Rain by
Tan Twan Eng set in World War Two Penang, was nominated for 2007
Man Booker Prize.
- Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang
- Khoo Salma Nasution: More Than Merchants: A History of the
German-speaking Community in Penang, 1800s-1940s, Areca Books,