In the midst of Lim Guan Eng house-buying controversy, opportunist Ridhuan Tee urged that Penang be restored to Kedah. It appears clear that he has a sinister agenda. A remark that touches on the bottom line of Penangnites is unacceptable.
There is no denial that Penang was once part of the Sultanate of Kedah. Kedah ceded Penang Island to the British East India Company in a treaty signed 1786, in exchange for military assistance from the latter. When Kedah was attacked by Siam, Francis Light failed to provide military assistance that was promised earlier, thus dishonouring the treaty. Kedah tried to retake Penang in 1790 but was defeated.
The British East India Company, as the victor, dictated the terms of the 1791 treaty. In the 1791 treaty, the Sultan of Kedah cede Penang Island to the Company for an honorarium. The British East India Company took Seberang Prai in 1802 for an increased honorarium. An honorarium is a payment which the giver has no legal obligation to do so. There is no question that treaties signed between Kedah and the Company were unequal treaties.
The political reality is, Penang and Seberang Prai went under separate governance since Kedah ceded it to the British East India Company. Penang’s status was changed to Straits Settlements, then came under direct British rule as a Crown Colony in 1867. The handling of Kedah to British in the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 did not change the reality of separate governance. Kedah became an Unfederated Malay State and Penang a Crown Colony.
Today, in the Constitution of Malaysia, Article 1 enshrined that Penang and Kedah are two separate states, and territories of the states can only be altered by Parliament with the consent of the respective states. Penang and Kedah are two sovereign equals as part of Malaysia.
The Penangnites have worked hard to develop Penang into a vibrant city-state today. Penang has her own values distinct from her neighbouring state. Terms of the treaties that have been executed are done, so there is no turning back. The call for Penang to return to Kedah is reflective of the pre-Independence mentality. There is no reason for Kedah to reclaim Penang today.
There is no question on the status of Penang. There is no question of territorial integrity in Peninsular Malaysia. Anyone attempting to undermine the status of Penang goes against the Constitution and can be held guilty of sedition.