The recent Star online article "Let’s save the hills together" prompted these thoughts and memories.
As the current Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Penang is not given the deserved respect by the current Ketua Menteri, The Chief Minister seems by all appearances wants to create his own personal Singapore to rule. This is all too clear in the way he turns like a cornered dog on the people or the press who might question some of his recent schemes.
Though some of his past actions were for the people and commendable, perhaps the affects of his time in jail are now beginning to show in his increasingly eccentric behaviour currently?
On to my main point. Prior to independence my late father Maj J M Justice JP (Kedah 1964) and the future Prime Minister "The Tunku"
discussed the pros & cons of reinstating or returning the then Sultan of Kedah's title as Ruler of Penang in name, but not ownership.
This would give Penang much required stability and a feeling identity that it last had when in 1790, and the Sultan was forced to cede the island to the Honourable East India Company and later in 1800, Lieutenant-Governor Sir George Leith secured a strip of land across the channel as a buffer against attacks and named it Province Wellesley (today Seberang Prai).
Finally in 1867 the Straits Settlements were created a Crown colony under direct British rule, in which Penang and Malacca were included.
Today, the Penang state government still pays RM 18800 to the Sultan of Kedah annually for its rent so to speak.
So this year with Tuanku Abdul Halim, the Sultan of Kedah the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong to reign twice, the people of Penang should
consider returning his title rule of Penang.
Penang would then get the piece of mind knowing they had someone who had his peoples' interests at heart as always and would not hesitate to remind errant politicians that they served the peoples interests above all and not some personal agenda. Just like all the other peninsular states, bar one.
These ideas would soon be lost in hard work that independence brought, but I commend to you that this idea by Tunku Abdul Rahman and my late father is still worth serious thought even today in the current climate.
And what greater gift and honour from the people could there be to their King?
My late father, Maj J M Justice. JP., served in the Indian Army during the with the Rajputana Rifles and took the 1st unofficial surrender of
the Japanese, during the Malaysian landings. The original sword should still be at The Rajputana Museum in Delhi. After Indian independence, he came back to Malaya and finally worked for the Kulim Rubber Company at Bukit Genting Estate near Jenun, Kedah. In 1964 the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, then Tuanku Abdul Halim of Kedah and nephew to Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, awarded my father the title and duties of Kedah JP and conferred the medal for services to the state to him. Both of these were seen as possibly the highest awards given to an European since independence.
For my part, educated at Uplands School on Penang Hill, of which my father was also a governor. I would hate to see the hill destroyed by
development and in time what will be Penang's draw for tourists?
Lets see - Watching Penangites drive to work and back on an 8-lane highway through high-rise George Town and what little heritage it might have left. Next, the beach - can't swim with dirty water, so dodge the para-sails and quad bikes (have you noticed that in 99% of all the beach accidents a Burqa was involved? a real Health and Safety issue, for sure). Finally, an evening trip up the hill to listen to the prayers of the residents in their multi-million RM condos praying that their home has not collapsed in an earthquake or mudslide overnight.
Now those are a few of the things the CM should contemplate, for the good of Penang.
When I returned to Penang in 2005 after 39 years I was delighted to see how little Penang had changed, but 7 years and over a dozen more visits, the change is disturbing. Is it connected to the new leadership? A PR might not see this slow steady change, but go away for 6 months and you really notice the changes.