GEORGE TOWN - Penang will have a woman as its first mayor after regaining its city status.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had on March 10 proclaimed the declaration of the new status for the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) effective Jan 1 this year.
He said the MPPP would now be known as the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) with Datuk Patahiyah Ismail (pic) as mayor.
"It's historical that George Town is finally able to regain its city status," he said at his Komtar office yesterday.
George Town was the first town in the country to be given city status by way of a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth II on Jan 1, 1957.
But when the George Town City Council was merged with the Penang Rural District Council to form a local government management board in 1974, it lost that status.
When the Local Government Act 1976 was enforced two years later, the local government management board was replaced with MPPP.
Talks to upgrade George Town's status started in 2001 under the then Barisan Nasional administration before a formal application was submitted by the Pakatan Rakyat state government in 2010.
The Cabinet approved the application on Nov 7.
Lim said the new city council would be covering a larger area, from 297 sq km to 305.773 sq km, adding that the number of personnel would also increase by 388 from the current 3,576.
Patahiyah will be sworn in at 10am on March 31 at the official residence of the Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas in Jalan Utama.
Patahiyah was also the first woman to be appointed council president - as head of the Penang Municipal Council - in 2010.