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Mahathir weighs in on Penang-Kedah debate

The former prime minister says there is no crime in airing views on history.

Staff Writers
1 minute read
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad today revealed that he had urged former finance minister Lim Guan Eng to increase the RM10,000 annual payment by Putrajaya to Kedah for agreeing to lease out Penang during the British colonial era.

"I am not asking anyone to believe me. So you can take this story with a dollop of salt," the former prime minister who led the government twice said, weighing in on an ongoing debate sparked by Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor's remarks.

Saying he did not want to be dragged into the debate, Mahathir, who is a Kedahan himself, however, said there was nothing wrong with Sanusi giving his views on the history of the state's ownership of Penang.

He said the Sultan of Kedah agreed for the East India Company, Britain's colonial vehicle, to take over the Penang island and mainland for a total of 10,000 Spanish dollars annually. 

"In addition, the agreement required the British company to help in the defence of Kedah if attacked by foreign countries. We know that the British failed to honour their words," he said.

He said the leasing of Penang should not be compared to Singapore's handover to the British.

"It was clearly a straightforward sale. The British made a one-time payment of 60,000 Spanish dollars to the Temenggong.

"It is worthwhile noting that Sultan Ali, the sultan at that time did not sign. He was awarded a house in Kampung Gelam in Singapore. This generosity was not accompanied by British recognition of Ali as the sultan," he said, referring to Sultan Ali Iskandar Shah of Johor.

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