Penang Forum 1 was held at Disted College on 13 April 2008, just over a month after the BN state government fell to Pakatan control.
After the 2008 event, a Penang Forum Declaration was submitted to the state government calling for a new partnership with the Penang people based on the principles of popular participation, transparency, accountability, sustainability and social justice.
The government was also urged to set up mechanisms for civil society groups to meet with the government regularly. This would provide an avenue for these groups to make provide input into policy making, monitor and provide feedback on these policies and help the government to resolve problems and conflicts if required.
The NGOs also called for easy access to public facilities such as the Caring Society Complex and Dewan Sri Pinang for their public education activities and other events.
During 2008, twelve working groups were established involving a wide cross-section of Penangites deliberating on the issues of health, environment, labour, women, persons with disabilities, local government, youth and students, transport, arts and culture, heritage, and goodwill initiatives.
Each group eventually completed a report containing positive recommendations, which were then presented in two sittings to the Chief Minister and the State Executive Committee the following year. This effort was done in the spirit of building a positive partnership between Penangites and their state and municipal Governments.
Representatives of forty NGOs participated in the inaugural Penang Forum event and supported the Penang Forum Declaration.