On Saturday, Jan 28, I will be driving up north to Penang, my home state, situated some 625 km north of the Equator. Malaysians took advantage of the week-long holidays to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year and the Muslim Lunar New Year at their home states or goes on vacation.
Penang is known as Pearl of the Orient but sadly the resort island is now too congested with motor vehicles and poorly planned development. The pearl is not shining as it used to.
The name Penang, taken from the Malay word "pinang" or betel-nut, was the first state in the Malay peninsula to be "colonised" by the British.
In fact, the first recorded British visit to the island took place in 1592 when the Edward Bonaventure, dropped anchor. Capt. James Lancaster and his sailors, many sick with scurvy, rested in Penang for several weeks, taking on water, fresh seafood and fruits.
The Union Jack was officially raised in 1786 when Capt Francis Light of the British East India Company took over the island from the Sultan of Kedah and it was flown until 31st August 1957 when the then Federation of Malaya achieved independence.