Penang’s free port status began eroding after the final boundaries of Malaysia were defined with the exit of Singapore in 1965. By 1974, the federal government had made it a thing of the past.
Luckily for the state, the state government that was voted into power in 1969 had the boldness and imagination to press for the establishment of a free trade zone on the island. With Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak’s support, Chief Minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu and his team quickly industrialised Penang in the 1970s. With that, Penang stayed intimately connected to the economic processes of the world – something that has formed its population’s identity ever since.
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