Recently there are many organizations, and even countries, want to become the first, the largest, the highest, and all the first in anything. I do not know what is the justification behind it, is it because of nationalism, personal pride, or .....
Some of the first required large financial commitment, other require time and human labour, and wasting the time of students to achieve their first. Is it worth it?
There is no competition for the 1st to donate to Haiti Earthquake, the largest donation country for Haiti earthquake; the cleanest country, the NO 1 in integrity, human right protection, democratic, corruption-free, etc... which is more meaningful.
Penang's first are historical; not purposely created to be first.
Penang had many first, here are the list download from Wikipedia:-
# Penang became the first British outpost in the then Malaya and South East Asia in 1786.
# The country's first newspaper made its appearance in Penang in 1805 - the Prince of Wales Island Gazette. This was followed by the Penang Gazette, first published in 1837.
# The Royal Malaysian Police was established when King George III awarded Penang a 'Charter of Justice’ in 1807 to form the police force and the Court of Justice.
# Penang Free School founded by Rev. Sparke Hutchings in 1816, is the first and oldest English School in South East Asia.
# St George's Anglican Church on Farquhar Street, established in 1816, is the oldest Anglican Church in South East Asia and the only building from Penang that was declared one of the 50 National Treasures by the Malaysian Government.
# The Sekolah Kebangsaan Gelugor in Penang founded in 1826 is the first Malay school to be established in Malaysia. 
# The St Xavier's Institution established in 1852, is the first school established in Malaysia to be administered and fully owned by the La Salle Brothers.
# Convent Light Street or the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, a girls' school established by a French Sisters' Mission in 1852, is the oldest girls' school in South East Asia.
# Chung Hwa Confucian School founded by Cheong Fatt Tze in 1904, was one of the oldest formal Chinese Schools established in South-east Asia as a result of influence by the educational reforms in China in early 1900s. Mandarin is the school’s medium of instruction.
# The Municipal Council of Penang Island (Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang), is the successor of the Municipal Council of George Town, which was established in 1857 as Malaysia's first local authority.
# The Penang Turf Club, established in 1864, is Malaysia's oldest horse racing and equestrian centre.
# Standard Chartered Bank, the oldest bank in Malaysia, opened its doors in 1875.
# In 1905 Penang completed its first hydroelectric scheme.
# in 1906 Penang's first electric tramway made its appearance.
# Malaysia's oldest Chinese newspaper still in circulation today, Kwong Wah Yit Poh or Kwong Wah Daily (光华日报) was founded on 20 December 1910 by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen in Penang.
# The Penang Players Music and Drama Society, the oldest English amateur theatre group in Malaysia, was founded in the early 1950s by a group of expatriates residing in Penang.
# George Town, the state capital of Penang, became a city by a royal charter granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 1 January 1957, becoming the first town in the Federation of Malaya to become a city.
# Penang's water rates/tariffs are amongst the lowest in Malaysia (the other being Kelantan).
# Covering 738 km², the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai) is the largest local authority in Malaysia.
# The 2,562-hectare Penang National Park in Teluk Bahang gazetted in 2003 is the world’s smallest national park.
These first are the past happenings of historical Penang, a genuine effort of the old Penang people; the heritage assets left for Penang today. It was the accumulation of old wisdom and creativity of Penang's past.