Local Democracy Awaits a Resurrection

loading The Penang Town Hall and City Hall in the background.

The end of local elections in Penang signalled the thorough centralisation of power that was to come.

Penang is a state with a vibrant history of local government. It was the first state on the peninsula to hold local elections, and had one of the most developed, autonomous and powerful local authorities in the country: the George Town city council.

Unfortunately, local democracy was short-lived. This year marks both the 65th anniversary of the first local elections in Penang as well as the 45th anniversary of the last Penang local council’s demise.

On December 1, 1951, Penang held the first democratic election in then-Malaya. These elections were the first step in introducing democracy to Malaya, heralding the beginning of decolonisation and the start of Malayan self-rule.

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