1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Penang

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PENANG (Pulau Pinang, i.e. Areca-nut Island), , the town and island which, after Singapore, form the most important portion of the crown colony of the Straits Settlements. The island is situated in 5° 24′ N. and 100° 21′ E, and distant about 21/2 m. from the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. The island is about 151/2 m. long by 101/2 m. wide at its broadest point. Its area is something over 107 sq m. The town, which is built on a promontory at a point nearest to the mainland, is largely occupied by Chinese and Tamils, though the Malays are also well represented. Behind the town, Penang Hill rises to a height of some 2700 ft., and upon it are built several government and private bungalows. The town possesses a fine European club, a racecourse, and good golf links. Coco-nuts are grown in considerable quantities along the seashore, and rice is cultivated at Bālek Pūlau and in the interior, but the jungle still spreads over wide areas. Penang has an excellent harbour, but has suffered from its proximity to Singapore. There are a Church of England and a Roman Catholic church in the town, and a training college under the Roman Catholic missionaries of the Société des Missions Ếtrangères at Pūlau Tīkus, a few miles outside the town.

Administration.—Since 1867 Penang has been under the administrative control of a resident councillor who is responsible to the governor of the Straits. He is aided in his duties by officers of the Straits Civil Service. Two unofficial members of the legislative council of the colony, which holds its sittings in Singapore, are nominated by the governor, with the sanction of the secretary of state for the colonies, to represent Penang. Their term of office is for five years. The official name of the island is Prince of Wales Island and that of the town is Georgetown; neither of these names, however, is in general use. Among the Malays Penang is usually spoken of as Tanjong or “ The Cape,” on account of the promontory upon which the town is situated. The town is administered by a municipal council composed of ex officio, nominated, and elected members.

Population.—The population of Penang at the time of the census of 1901 was 128,830, of whom 85,070 were males (69,210 over and 15,860 under 15 years of age), and 43,760 Were females (28,725 over and 15,035 under 15 years of age). The population was composed of 71,462 Chinese, 34,286 Malays, 18,740 Tamils and other natives of India, 1649 Eurasians, 993 Europeans and Americans, and 1699 persons of other nationalities. As in other parts of the Straits Settlements the men are far more numerous than the women. The total population of the settlement of Penang, which includes not only the island but Province Wellesley and the Dindings, was 248,207 in 1901.

Shipping—The number of ships which entered and left the port of Penang during 1906 was 2324 with an aggregate tonnage of 2,868,459. Of these 1802 were British with an aggregate tonnage of 1,966,286. These figures reveal a considerable falling-off during the past decade, the number of vessels entering and leaving the port in 1898 being 5114 with an aggregate tonnage of 3,761,094. This is mainly due to the construction of the railway which runs from a point on the mainland opposite to Penang, through the Federated Malay States of Pērak, Sālangor and the Nēgri Sēmbīlan to Malacca, and has diverted to other ports and eventually to Singapore much of the coastal traffic which formerly visited Penang.

Finance and Trade.—The revenue of Penang, that is to say, not only of the island but of the entire settlement, amounted in 1906 to $6,031,917, of which $2,014,033 was derived from the revenue farms for the collection of import duties on opium, wine and spirits; $160,047 from postal revenue, $119,585 from land revenue; $129,151 from stamps The expenditure for 1906 amounted to $5,072,406, of which $836,097 was spent on administrative establishments, $301,252 on the upkeep of existing public works; $415,175 on the construction of works and buildings, and of new roads, streets, bridges, &c. The imports in 1906 were valued at $94,546,112; the exports at $90,709,225. Of the imports $57,880,889 worth came from the United Kingdom or from British possessions or protectorates; $23,937,737 worth came from foreign countries; and $3,906,241 from the Dindings, Malacca and Singapore. Of the exports, $23,122,947 went to the United Kingdom, or to British possessions or protectorates; $37,671,033 went to foreign countries, and $2,754,238 went to the Dindings, Malacca or Singapore.

History.—Penang was founded on the 17th of July 1786, having been ceded to the East India Company by the Sultan of Kēdah in 1785 by an agreement with Captain Light, for an annuity of $10,000 for eight years In 1791 the subsidy was changed to $6000, in perpetuity, for some years later this was raised to $10,000, and is still annually paid. This final addition was made when Province Wellesley was purchased by the East India Company for $2000 in 1798. At the time of the cession Penang was almost uninhabited. In 1796 it was made a penal settlement, and 700 convicts were transferred thither from the Andaman Islands. In 1805 Penang was made a separate presidency, ranking with Bombay and Madras; and when in 1826 Singapore and Malacca were incorporated with it. Penang continued to be the seat of government. In 1829 Penang was reduced from the rank of a presidency, and eight years later the town of Singapore was made the capital of the Settlements. In 1867 the Straits Settlements were created a Crown colony, in which Penang was included.

See Straits Settlements Blue Book 1906 (Singapore, 1907); The Straits Directory (Singapore, 1907), Sir Frank Swettenham, British Malaya (London, 1906).  (H. Cl.)