The swashbuckling municipal president of Penang

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Just who was John Sjovald Hoseason Cunyngham-Brown?

Civil servant? Soldier? Adventurer? Activist? Surely one could not be all four, and more. But one man indeed was, and left a significant mark on Penang. During Penang’s City Day celebrations in April, an exhibition was held at Gurney Plaza on Penang’s history, paying tribute to John Sjovald Hoseason Cunyngham-Brown, who, as president of the George Town Municipal Council, wrote a letter to the Queen in 1956 asking her to exercise her royal prerogative to command by Royal Charter that the status of George Town be raised to that of a city. This she did, and George Town became Malaysia’s first city on January 1, 1957.


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