Kedah menteri besar said that Penang has always been under Kedah.
Recently Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor made a bold claim that Penang belonged to Kedah.
According to him, the only states that have a border with Kedah were Perak and Perlis and as far as he was concerned, Penang belonged to Kedah, as reported by Malay Mail.
“So there is no such thing as the Kedah-Penang border, our state border docks next to the island there (Balik Pulau), with Perak there may be. The Kedah-Penang border, how can it be measured? Which point of the gazette can be used?” he stated.
However, Ramkarpal Singh, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Legal and Institutional Reform), asserted that Penang is a sovereign state in the Federation of Malaysia and that its legitimacy cannot be questioned.
According to Ramkarpal, Penang has been recognized as one of the Straits Settlements under a combination known as Straits Settlements or Negeri-Negeri Selat since the British Colonialism.
Following this, Penang and Seberang Perai (on the peninsula of Penang) were unambiguously recognised as a sovereign state in several agreements made between the state of Kedah and the British which includes the Federation Agreement of Malaya 1948, the Federation Agreement of Malaya 1957, and the Agreement between the British Government and the State of Kedah in 1923, as reported by Malaysiakini.
He went on to say that Penang is also recognised as an interstate under the Federation of Malaya under Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, adding that the founding of the Federation of Malaya was based on the Federal Constitution in 1957.
However, in the statements given by Sanusi, he stated that Penang has never ‘escaped from Kedah’, thus the need to reclaim Penang is not there.
“We are not taking it back, they weren’t free (from Kedah), it’s our right,” he stated.
Let’s Take A Walk Down Memory Lane
Penang was formerly part of the Malay Sultanate of Kedah until the arrival of the British. It was renowned at the time as a pirate harbour.
All of this changed with the arrival of Captain Francis Light who established the first British trading post in Penang in the year 1786.
The captain persuaded the Sultan of Kedah in a trade where in exchange for military defence from the Siamese and Burmese forces that were posing a danger to Kedah, Penang was to be handed over to the British East India Company. This was when Penang received the name Prince of Wales Island.
Later, Sultan Abdullah of Kedah organised an army to drive out the Dutch and the British in 1790 after learning that the British would not provide protection.
He gathered his troops in Prai, on the mainland, to reclaim Penang Island, but he was defeated. The enemy’s fortress had been the target of nighttime raids by Light.
Sultan Abdullah and the British agreed to a treaty in 1791 that gave the British control of Penang Island. Light committed to make 6,000 Spanish dollars in yearly payments to the Sultan.
Nearly 200 years later, the Penang State Government continues to give the Sultan of Kedah an annual payment of RM18,800.00.
As mentioned above, Penang became part of the Straits settlement in the year 1826 and later was recognised as a state in the year 1957 under the Federal constitution.
From the events of the history that was mentioned above, it is true that at one point Penang was under the Sultan of Kedah, but that can be deemed as over with the signed treaty between the British and the Sultan of Kedah.
Thus, it seems that, the claim of the Kedah menteri besar is unsubstantiated as stated by Ramkarpal. We all know Penang to be one of the 14 states and it is better to leave it the way it is.