The government (State) has limited powers compared with those of the Malaysian federal authorities. It is now headed by an oppositon led coalition party called Pakatan Rakyat.
The head of the is the 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. He acts upon the advice of the state Executive Council.
Penang Chief Minister
The Chief Minister is Mr. Lim Guan Eng from the Democratic Action Party (DAP). The second opposition leader to lead the state. The first was Dr. Lim Chong Eu from Gerakan. However, the Gerakan party was effectively never in the opposition and the party joined the Barisan National shortly after winning the elections. The Barisan National is the ruling Federal Government party.
Much hope is placed on the Guan Eng state administration. He is a strong advocate of a Competent, Accountable and Transparent administration (CAT).
Penang Local Authorities
The Municipal Council of the Island (Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang) and the Municipal Council of Province Wellesley (Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai) local councilors are appointed by the State.
Local elections were abolished in Malaysia in the 1960s. The municipal councils are made up of a president, a municipal secretary and 24 councilors. The president is appointed by the State for two-years, while the councilors are appointed annually. The state is divided into 5 administrative divisions:
- The island:
- North-East District (Daerah Timur Laut)
- South-West District (Daerah Barat Daya)
- Province Wellesley (Seberang Perai):
- Central Province Wellesley (Seberang Perai Tengah)
- Northern Province Wellesley (Seberang Perai Utara)
- Southern Province Wellesley (Seberang Perai Selatan)
Each district is headed by a district officer.
Title of Head of Penang Government since 1786
- Superintendent 11 August 1786
- Lieutenant governor 1799
- Governor 1805
- Resident councilor 1849
- Japanese governor 1941
- British military governor 1945
- Resident commissioner 1946
- Governor (ceremonial) 31 August 1957
- Chief minister 12 June 1959
Penang State Legislative Assembly
The unicameral Penang Government state legislature, whose 40 members are called state assemblymen, meets at the State Legislative Assembly building (Dewan Undangan Negeri) at Light Street.
The Penang Government has 13 elected Members of Parliament in the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) at the Federal Parliament. It has 2 senators in the Dewan Negara (Senate), who are appointed by the state Legislative Assembly to serve a three-year term.
Both state and parliamentary elections must be held no later than every 5 years.
The court system had its origins in the 1807 charter known as the First Charter of Justice which obtained from the British Crown the rights to establish a permanent Court of Judicature.
This was followed by the appointment of the Supreme Court judge designated as the Recorder.
Sir Edmond Stanley assumed office as the First Recorder of the Supreme Court of Penang in 1808. The Supreme Court was first housed at Fort Cornwallis.
The judiciary is vested in the federal court system. The Supreme Court Building in Light Street houses the High Court, the Sessions Court and Magistrates courts.
Penang Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
Some of the more important and well known NGOs are The Penang Heritage Trust or PHT, and the Consumers Association of Penang or CAP.
Penang Heritage Trust
The Penang Heritage Trust or PHT was established to promote the conservation of heritage and to encourage cultural education about the history and culture. Its efforts have borne fruit with the UNESCO recognization of Georgetown as a world heritage site. It has saved many heritage buildings from being destroyed due to development or neglect.
Consumers Association of Penang
The Consumers Association of Penang or CAP was founded in 1969 by Anwar Fazal. It is the countries most vocal and active consumer protection group.
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