Tuesday January 22, 2013
State government lays claim to usage of the word ‘Penang’
By CHRISTINA CHIN
GEORGE TOWN: The Penang state government is again stamping its claim on the use of the name “Penang” and this has run into a storm.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said any event intending to use the word “Penang” must be approved by his administration.
“Event organisers cannot suka suka' (wantonly) use the name Penang' without approval from the Penang Government.
“If you are organising a new event, then you need our sanction. If you've used it in the past, that's different as you can continue the tradition but if it's a new event, you need our approval,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
Lim's statement arose from the Penang Run 2013 controversy when certain quarters chided the organisers for holding the event on Thaipusam day.
Lim denied the state government's involvement in the event.
“We never gave any permission for the use of the name Penang' but the event is supported by the state Youth and Sports Department, a federal body.
“If you want to use the name Penang', you have to apply as we want to know which parties are involved but we definitely want to cooperate with the Federal Government (if it is involved),” he said.
He added he did not want the name “Penang” to be misused.
“We are not politicising this but if anything goes wrong, people will think the event is connected to the state government and that's not right.
Lim added that the event should not be held during Thaipusam.
In an immediate response, senior lawyer Ranjit Singh Dhillon said any event or festival held in the state could rightfully use the name.
“There is absolutely no legal ground for Lim to prevent such usage nor is there a need for the organiser to seek approval if it's held here.”
He added that Lim, who was born in Johor, lived in Malacca and had now landed in Penang, had no right to sanction the name.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president S.M. Mohd Idris said the state government had no right to stop Penangites from using the name Penang' in their events; unless the organiser was using the state government's crest.
“If an event is associated with the state government and the crest is used, then of course it has to be sanctioned,” he said.
State Penang Barisan Nasional publicity chief Tan Cheng Liang said it would be difficult for Lim to enforce the ruling which made little sense, adding that Penang did not belong to Lim.
“It belongs to the people and he does not have the right to take ownership of the state by compelling organisers to seek permission before they are allowed to use Penang' in their events.
“He should be encouraging event organisers to promote the name instead of putting a restriction on it.
“The Prime Minister never insisted that anyone or any organiser seek permission before they could use the 1Malaysia slogan,” said Tan, who is also the state Wanita MCA chief.
“At the rate DAP is going, pretty soon he will be telling Penang hawkers that they cannot use the name Penang laksa, Penang char koey teow or Penang hokkien mee,” said Tan.
State Barisan chief Teng Chang Yeow said the previous administration never prevented any event organiser from using the name “Penang”.
“Of course, the state government crest is a different matter,” said the former state tourism development and environment committee chairman.
On Sept 15, 2009, Lim announced that those wanting to use the name should get the state government's permission.
Three days later, he softened his stance on the state government's exclusive claim to the name “Penang” following public criticism.
He said those planning to use the name only need to inform the state government as a matter of courtesy as the latter was the “custodian of that brand and was legally and morally responsible to prevent its abuse”.