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21-Aug-2017 17:21

The entirety of what is now Penang would later become part of the Sultanate of Kedah up to the late 18th century.

Meanwhile, the use of the term 'Penang Island' was first documented by Chinese sailors of the Ming dynasty in the 15th century.

Sent by the Ming Emperor Yongle as part of a series of long-range Chinese naval expeditions, the sailors, who were led by Admiral Zheng He, labelled the island as Bīnláng Yù (simplified Chinese: However, the modern history of Penang only began in 1786.

On 17 July that year, Captain Francis Light, an English trader-adventurer of the British East India Company, landed on Penang Island, which was then part of Kedah.

These artifacts indicate that the earliest inhabitants in the area Seberang Perai were nomadic Melanesians.

The Cherok Tok Kun megalith in Bukit Mertajam, uncovered in 1845, contains Pali inscriptions, indicating that the Hindu-Buddhist Bujang Valley civilisation based in what is now Kedah had established control over parts of Seberang Perai by the 6th century.

Thus, Light endeavoured to negotiate with Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah of Kedah regarding the cession of Penang Island to the British East India Company, in exchange for military assistance against Kedah's foes.

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Penang formed part of the Straits Settlements in 1826, which became a British crown colony in 1867.

The British East India Company was also seeking a naval base in the region for the maintenance of Royal Navy ships.

Meanwhile, Kedah was facing threats from its stronger northern rivals, Siam and Burma, as well as an internal Bugis revolt.

In exchange to the acquisition, the annual payment to the Sultan of Kedah was increased to 10,000 Spanish dollars per annum.

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To this day, the Malaysian federal government still pays Kedah, on behalf of Penang, RM 10,000 annually as a symbolic gesture.

In 1800, Lieutenant-Governor Sir George Leith secured a strip of hinterland across the Penang Strait and named it Province Wellesley (now Seberang Perai).