PETALING JAYA – It is not impossible for Kedah to ‘reclaim’ Penang to be part of its territory through judiciary means, according to experts.
Historian Prof Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seong said the onus is on the court to decide whether Kedah can rightfully claim Penang under its jurisdiction, after both entities separated under a treaty signed centuries ago.
He said it was for the Kedah state government to present evidence and bring up the matter to court if it was really keen to have Penang back.
“Yes, it can be brought to court. In a historical point of view, it is possible (for Kedah) to claim (Penang) if there is existing evidence,” he told theSun.
He, however, warned that doing so might cause a domino effect that could see other states elsewhere in the country reclaiming their boundaries prior to the era of British rule.
This could, for example, open up possibility for Malacca to reclaim Johor as history shows that the Johor sultanate was founded by the heir of Malacca sultanate, Teo added.
“It is better for us to maintain the current status quo as we do not want the matter to take a turn for the worse,” he said.
Teo also said that the two agreements signed between the Kedah sultanate and the British in 1786 and 1800 did not specify whether Penang was leased or ceded to the colonial power.
“Whatever it is, only the court can decide on Penang’s status,” he added.
Constitutional expert Assoc Prof Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz, while noting that it is not impossible for Kedah to make the move, said Penang has been recognised as an independent state of its own under the Federal Constitution.
“To say that it is impossible is not accurate, as it is more of a historical matter, and that is a separate issue altogether. However, under the current law, Penang is an independent state in Malaysia.
“Even when we gained independence from the British, they (British) considered Penang as part of the Federation of Malaya that has separated from Kedah,” she said.
The issue of Kedah reclaiming Penang arose after Kedah exco for Religious Affairs, Tourism and Heritage, and Public Works Datuk Mohd Rawi Abdul Hamid stated that the state government had informed the Federal government of its intention to reclaim Penang as part of its territory.