Monthly Archives: November 2009

Affirmative Action Needed to Prevent Loss of Life




The collapse of the suspension pedestrian bridge across Sungai Kampar at Kuala Dipang recently has started yet another round of inquires on the cause of the tragedy.

As usual, it takes a tragedy or a serious incident for those in the relevant agencies and departments to talk about safety, mainly as to what should or should not have been done. It is as though a veil has been lifted suddenly and they began to see clearly now.

And so, guidelines and directives on safety measures are making the headlines in the aftermath of the tragedy. More will be issued as the investigations progress.

Twenty-two school-children, who were participants of a 1Malaysia’s camp, were on the bridge at 10.30 p.m. on October 26th when it collapsed and threw them into the swift flowing river. Three of them were drowned, while the rest either managed to save themselves or were rescued.

Commenting on the need to ensure safety measures, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said a reconnaissance team would be sent out before students converge at any facility outside school compound to guarantee their safety and security in future.

It would be among the must-dos by schools and organizers of school excursions to ensure students are out of harm’s way, added Tan Sri Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister.

However many questions need to be answered. Not only on the stability of the newly constructed bridge, but also on why the children were crossing the bridge at that time of the night and whether there was adult supervision.

Will all the results of the investigations help to identify potential danger in the future so that the loss of lives and properties could be minimized, or become mere records tucked away in files and forgotten?

The ‘tidak-apa’ attitude seems to be infectious too, as even members of public are throwing all caution to the wind as shown by the drowning of three Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) undergraduates at the Batu Berangkal waterfalls also at Kampar on November 1st

There have been a number of similar tragedies involving picnickers in the state, and yet precautionary measures and guidelines that need to be observed while at waterfalls, particularly during rainy season, have been ignored.

What is wrong with us, Malaysians? Are we taking thing easy and just wait for “whatever will be, will be”?

I understand if it is a natural disaster as no-one could predict when and how it would occur, but in a tragedy such as the collapse of the bridge (though the first in Perak) some precautionary measures could certainly have been taken.

Yet, every time a tragedy or incident occurs, investigations would usually narrow down the causes to negligence or failure to observe the guidelines.

In the history of Perak, there have been a number of tragedies involving school-children. Among them were the capsizes of overloaded boats at Kampung Gajah and Lenggong.

Others include rock-falls. The most serious was the rock-falls at Gunung Cheroh in Ipoh about three decades ago when several people were crushed to death in a long-house at the foot of a limestone hill.

The most recent incident was on January 11th, this year, in the internationally known cave temple, Perak Tong, along Jalan Kuala Kangsar in Ipoh, where thousands of tonnes of rocks had crushed into the main chamber of the temple killing a security guard.

Similarly, guidelines on safety measures, including the construction of buildings at the foot of limestone hills, were issued following the rock-falls, but have been blatantly ignored.

When are the agencies and departments going to learn that safety cannot be compromised, but should be a priority at all times.

Do they need disasters periodically to remind them of their responsibilities? Are the relevant agencies and departments incompetent when it comes to implementation and supervision of safety measures?

Remedial measures must be an ongoing effort, not after an incident. They must be properly enforced so that in the event of a rock-fall, collapsed bridge, landslide or flood, the authorities can pinpoint the causes.

Therefore, what is needed is less talk and more action from all relevant agencies and departments, and as well as those responsible for safety. It means that there is a great need for affirmative action from all.

Yuk Choy’s Rakan Muda




SMJK Yuk Choy Ipoh, with the collaboration of the Perak Chinese Recreation Club, organised a Rakan Muda Kecergasan programme to teach basic skills in football at their school’s football field recently.

According to Mr. Sit Wai Yin, the Co-curriculum Senior Assistant of SMJK Yuk Choy, the program will instil discipline and promote healthy activities among the students. He acknowledged the Youth and Sport Ministry, Perak Chinese Recreation Club and Sport Department of SMJK Yuk Choy, for their continuous efforts in promoting healthy activities in the school. The programme was assisted by Mr. Chan Kok Heng, an ex-Perak and National footballer who volunteered to give the basic training. “I am grateful for my alma mater in helping me become a footballer and this is my way of giving back”, he said.




The latest night spot to find favour with our local trendies is Locomotive which opened for business in August of this year. Located conveniently on Medan Ipoh Bistari, that new hub of dining, wining and now dancing, opposite Tesco, Locomotive boasts a uniquely designed brick bar counter, pool table and livebands on Thursdays and weekends.

Open from 5.00 p.m till 1.00 a.m. on weekdays and 2.00 a.m. on weekends, they play music from the 70s and 80s, Hip Hop and mostly R&B and rock numbers, all in English only. Happy hours from 5.00 p.m. till 9.00 p.m. see them charging RM50 for six Tiger Beers. With music thrown in and ample parking available, Locomotive looks set to be the hotspot in Ipoh for the coming months.

Birch Memorial Clock Tower



The Birch Memorial Clock Tower standing in front of the Ipoh State Mosque was unveiled in 1909. The square tower has a clock on each face. The clock tower has one mother bell, 6 ft 6 in diameter weighing 1,000 pounds and four smaller bells weighing together 1,000 pounds and was designed to strike the chimes of Big Ben.

The clock used to chime every quarter of an hour. It ceased to chime for the past several years and MBI has not bothered to repair and maintain the clocks which are not working.

The clock tower is historical and an important landmark. It is strategically located and a tourist attraction. However, the small park surrounding the clock tower is reasonably well maintained.

MBI should repair the clock immediately and make it functional; let us hear the pleasant chimes of the clock. While doing the maintenance work, plants growing on top of the tower must be pulled out before they damage the concrete.          


Ipoh GH Speeds UP




For the past few years I have been going to Ipoh General Hospital regularly for eye checkups and usually the appointment is at 8.00 a.m. and by the time I see the doctor and collect the medicine it would be around noon. A span of four hours.

However, lately there has been a change for the good. When I went for my last field test two months ago, it took me about only an hour. Last month I had an appointment with the doctor at 8.00 a.m. and by 10.00 a.m. I had seen the doctor, collected my medicine and was on my way back home.

Keep up the good work!

Free Medical Clinic




The 2010 Budget announced by the PM recently mentioned the setting up of 1Malaysia community clinics in urban areas to enable the local community to seek basic health treatments for fever, cough and flu. What is not known is that there are already several of these community clinics set up by non-governmental bodies and religious groups in Ipoh itself.

The Bercham Metho-dist Church, (a daughter church of the Canning Garden Methodist Church) set up a Clinic in June 2000 as an outreach programme to touch a needy community. To date more than 2,000 patients have passed through its doors.

The Bercham Methodist Clinic is run by a group of voluntary doctors, including several specialists, together with pharmacists and helpers. Medical consultation is free and a token sum of RM5 is charged for medication which is highly subsidised by the Church funds or donations received from well-wishers. Blood tests can be done at a special discounted rate through the clinic.

The Bercham Metho-dist Clinic has held several health talks and health-screening programmes and will be holding more such events to raise public health awareness among the community.

Apart from medical aid, the clinic also offers legal aid by appointment. Several lawyers have volunteered to provide free legal consultation. So if it is too costly to engage a lawyer for legal problems, anyone can come to the clinic and make an appointment for free legal advice.

The Bercham Methodist Clinic is located at:  21-23 Persiaran Bercham Selatan 19, Taman Bercham Jaya, 31400 Ipoh. Open: Mon & Thurs (except public holidays) from 7-9pm. Enq: Mrs Lau Siaw Ngow 012-6287813 or Steven Teoh 012-5227150

Perak Oral History Project




The Committee on Perak Oral History Project, a joint initiative by the Perak Heritage Society and Perak Academy, was launched on 15th October, 2009, at Perak Academy. The committee oversees the recording of oral history as narrated by laymen based on their experiences.

For a start, the concentration is on the Japanese Occupation (1942 to 1945) in Perak before moving to more recent times. To date, twelve individuals of that era have had their statements recorded. The recordings, in the form a script and a compact disc, were presented to the remaining two of the twelve during the launch, in appreciation for their efforts.

Tan Yap Pau, the Committee Chairman and event organiser, explained the reasons behind the project. “Oral history is another form of recorded history.  It is written based on personal experiences rather than hearsay, this being the only point of difference”, said Tan in his introductory speech.

Professor Lynn Hollen Lees from the Department of History, University of Pennsylvania, will help guide the committee with its maiden project. Lynn was present at the launch to lend her support.      

Those who are keen to have their experiences recorded please contact Perak Academy at 05-5478979 for an appointment.


MBI Does it Part




In our September 1 issue Ipoh Echo highlighted the plight of the Merdeka Garden residents who constantly feared that the Pari River would overflow its banks each time a heavy downpour occurred. 

Echo also reported the actions that MBI and the Drainage and Irrigation Department would take to alleviate the problem before the end of the year.

On November 4, MBI Councillor Lai Kong Phooi called a press conference to announce that they had done their part which was the completion of the rubbish trap to prevent rubbish from flowing into the pump area thus enabling the pump to discharge flood waters effectively and efficiently.

MBI has committed to monitor and clear the trapped rubbish 6 days per week. MBI will also put up a signboard warning residents not to throw rubbish into the sump.

With the completion of the rubbish trap “at least 80% of the problem is solved”, said Dato’ Lee Kong Yin, BN’s Service Centre Chairman.

Dato’ Abdul Razak Dahalan, DID Director, when contacted on the upgrade to be done by his department responded that they had “recently awarded the work to increase the capacity of the pump sump and work would start this month”.

As for the residents they are ‘satisfied’ at the actions taken by MBI. “Now we have to wait and see how the system will work during a heavy downpour”.



Riverfront Park – A Sorry Sight



Buntong State Assemblyman Sivasubramaniam highlighted late October the neglected state of the children’s playground, Taman Persisiran Sungai Kinta, formerly known as Peoples Park, located at Jalan Iskandar Shah (Hugh Low Street) immediately after the bridge.

It was rebuilt and upgraded approximately 4 years ago at a cost of RM4 million through an allocation from the Housing and Local Government Ministry. The upgrade featured beautiful landscaped gardens with flowing ponds, children’s playground and a children’s wading pool built around Muslim arches with water spraying into the wading pool.


Neglected condition

Unfortunately just a few years later the park presents a sorrowful picture. The once lovely garden ornaments are either broken or vandalized, the water in the children’s wading pool murky and the ponds dry or if filled with water is breeding a healthy tadpole or mosquito community.

Not many  children come to play. Instead, beggars sleep under the several gazebos around the park throughout the day and night.

What was shocking was that 8 manhole covers in the park had been vandalized and not been replaced. Due to the proximity of the park next to the Kinta River each manhole is approximately 10 to 15 feet deep. An accidental fall into a manhole here could be fatal.

The picture of the park was one of total neglect and Assemblyman Sivasubramaniam has questioned MBI about this.

MBI’s Landscape Director Meor Abdullah Zaidi explained that the responsibility to maintain the park was the owner of the food outlet at the park. Due to cost constraints the maintenance was neglected. Although the food outlet agreement expires in December, MBI has taken over the maintenance of the park since September.

MBI Prompt Action

A week later a team from MBI consisting of departments from landscape and valuation and together with welfare department and Councillor Lai Kong Phooi was at the park to assess the situation.

That same morning another work team of MBI workers were seen tidying up the gardens while the missing manhole covers were replaced with temporary wood covers which were nailed down. Unfortunately, still two manholes remained without covers. The water in the children’s wading pool looked clearer.

Councillor Lai assured that the park will be tidied up and identified the areas that needed maintenance to get the park in shape again. The temporary manhole covers will be replaced with concrete covers. Lai also proposed a security fence and flood lights for the park.


Regarding the problem of beggars sleeping at the park, welfare officer Rohana Zubaidah said the problem with the beggars will persist. “We pick them up but once they are released, they return again.”

However Puan Yeoh, headmistress of the school SJK(C) Perak, adjacent to the park, said that the beggar issue must be resolved as the Parent Teachers Association are most concerned about their children’s security. A security guard was hired over a year ago to escort the students coming to the school by bus to the front gate every morning, a walk of 150 metres.


MBI Landscape Director Meor when contacted, clarified that all the remedial work will be completed by March 2010. The initial project was funded by the Federal Government and the allocation “again would be from Federal funds”.

Hopefully once the park is restored to its original beauty or better, it would make Ipohites proud and have them frequenting it more often, and perhaps deter the beggars from claiming it as their own.


Art Déco buildings?


Does Ipoh have Art Décor buildings? Most certainly.


The architectural style that is the Lido and Cathay cinemas along Cockman Street are fine examples; the others being the Ruby theatre on Anderson Road and the Odeon cinema along Brewster Road.

Then there is the huge ‘complex’ that was the Grand Cinema owned by Shaw Brothers at the junction of Brewster and Cowan Street which featured a tall signboard advertising the movies being shown by the various Shaw cinemas in town. The ‘complex’ also housed the Jubilee Cabaret, a popular dance spot and the Jubilee Park which offered amusement items from games of chance and a merry-go-round to regular boxing matches.


Along Laksamana Road is the Lam Loo King building which housed the Celestial Hall (remember Perak Emporium?) which was also a dance hall.

Then there were the row of shop houses at Fair Park that was recently demolished with tragic results.

All of these buildings were designed by the same Danish architect B.M. Iversen who came to Malaya in 1928.  Iversen initially worked in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore but subsequently settled in Batu Gajah and maintained an office in Ipoh.

Recently his daughter Ruth, on one of her regular return visits, was invited by the Perak Heritage Society to deliver a talk about her father’s life and his work.

Ruth described her father as one who was passionate about his work. “He loved to draw and would do so after work while listening to classical music.”

Her talk included slides of her father’s diary which featured drawn images of their life then. Viewing that graphic diary one could feel the joy with which it was penned.

Berthold Iversen, during his forty years in Malaysia, designed many landmark buildings from Singapore to Ipoh. The Federal House in KL, designed by Iversen, was the winning selection as part of an architectural competition in 1951. Federal House was so named as it housed the government offices of the federated administration as well as the Post Office Savings Bank and the then Radio Malaya.


Iversen had done so much work in Ipoh from cinemas to houses that his designs are still around despite many having been destroyed or torn down to make way for new developments. The Ipoh Swimming Club, MCA building along Brewster Road and the Geological Survey Department building along Tiger Lane are still around.

All of his later works are a huge contrast from his earlier art déco designs: probably a reflection of his maturing process. Leaving behind such a wonderful legacy, is it any wonder then that Ruth calls Ipoh her second home.