AS A CITY, Penang has gone from being one of Asia’s most important metropolises to being an increasingly insignificant part of Malaysia. In that, it painfully reflects the fate of the country’s politics.
Both Penang and Malaysia must therefore give serious thought to what their international roles should be in the immediate future.
For at least two-thirds of its 200-year existence, Penang held a prominent position in the region. The very first Chinese, English and Malay schools in the country were all established there; the earliest newspapers were printed there; the island boasted the first local authority in the country (1857), and the first elected local government came into being there (1951).
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