Plan for the City’s Cultural District in Limbo

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By Jerry Francis

What has happened to the proposal to redevelop the location of Ipoh’s once well-known landmark – Yau Tet Shin Market – better known as the ‘Pasar Bulat’? Is it hanging in limbo now?

After the last general elections, it was being actively pursued. Some local architects had even drawn up plans and submitted them for consideration.

Enthusiastically, various members of the public and NGOs had also come forward to give their views and ideas on the proposed redevelopment of the site to the Ipoh City Council.

The project was to re-energise the city by turning the location around Cowan Street in the New Town Sector into a multi-racial “cultural district”.

Among the prime movers of the project are the Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The Perakean League (an organization of prominent Perak-born individuals), Perak Academy, Perak Heritage Society and Ipoh City Watch.

The Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry had even carried out a survey on the proposal and received unanimous support from the business community in the area.

Most of them felt that redeveloping the site as a commercial and shopping complex would inject new life to the once active shopping centre.

At a public forum held in a hotel in Ipoh in January, last year, the proposed project also had consensus from various NGOs and individuals.

Mayor Datuk Roshidi Hashim, had, in his invitation letter to the public forum, said the State government (then under Pakatan Rakyat) had agreed to hold the forum for the residents to give their views and proposals so that the redevelopment of the site could be carried out according to their “hopes and aspirations”.

The Yau Tet Shin Market was built in 1961. Following an invitation by the then Ipoh Municipal Council, architects throughout Malaysia and Singapore submitted the building’s designs. The winning design, submitted by Architects Booty, Edwards & Partners, was picked and the building was constructed at a cost of $500,000.

The octagonal-designed block had a “projecting shell roof and balcony terminating in two gradual ramps”. It is known to the locals as Pasar Bulat (the circular market) or pat-kok lau (octagonal villa).

It was named after a Kah Ying Hakka’s community leader, Yau Tet Shin, who had risen from mining coolie to towkay. His mansion is currently occupied by the State Health & Medical Department.

He was the developer for much of early Ipoh. He acquired a piece of land from the Dato’ Panglima Kinta and built a theatre on Leech Street in 1891. He then built some shop houses along Panglima Street, as the theatre had made the surrounding land valuable.

Yau Tet Shin, who also owned a large mine at Ampang and the Menglembu Smelting Works near Ipoh, developed a large tract of land east of the Kinta River that bisects the city into New Town and Old Town sectors in the early 1930s.

The Yau Tet Shin Market became a popular rendezvous for tourists, where they could pick up souvenirs, pomeloes and other favourite goodies of the city, as well as being a hangout for youngsters.

In 2001, the building was deemed unsafe by the city council and was demolished. Since then the site has been used as a public car-park and became the main issue of grievance amongst the predominantly Chinese residents of the city.

It was only after the Pakatan Rakyat came into power in Perak in March 2008 general elections that some serious suggestions about the redevelopment of the site were made.

However, just as it was gaining momentum, the state government changed hands and all enthusiasm to develop the project fizzled out. Now, no one is willing to talk about it and any attempt to get comments from those connected with the plan for redevelopment of the site, either ran up against a blank wall or received a request not to write about it yet.

Perhaps those involved need to be re-energised now to get the proposed project going and bring back more life to the city centre, which has become gloomy and will soon be flooded with swiftlet ‘hotels’.

Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir, who was asked earlier about the redevelopment, said no allocation had been given for the project.

His statement shattered any hope of the residents that the proposed “cultural district” will be developed to fill the need for a tourists’ centre in the city, at least not for many more years.

My Say

By Jerry Francis

Plan for the City’s Cultural District in Limbo

What has happened to the proposal to redevelop the location of Ipoh’s once well-known landmark – Yau Tet Shin Market – better known as the ‘Pasar Bulat’? Is it hanging in limbo now?

After the last general elections, it was being actively pursued. Some local architects had even drawn up plans and submitted them for consideration.

Enthusiastically, various members of the public and NGOs had also come forward to give their views and ideas on the proposed redevelopment of the site to the Ipoh City Council.

The project was to re-energise the city by turning the location around Cowan Street in the New Town Sector into a multi-racial “cultural district”.

Among the prime movers of the project are the Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The Perakean League (an organization of prominent Perak-born individuals), Perak Academy, Perak Heritage Society and Ipoh City Watch.

The Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry had even carried out a survey on the proposal and received unanimous support from the business community in the area.

Most of them felt that redeveloping the site as a commercial and shopping complex would inject new life to the once active shopping centre.

At a public forum held in a hotel in Ipoh in January, last year, the proposed project also had consensus from various NGOs and individuals.

Mayor Datuk Roshidi Hashim, had, in his invitation letter to the public forum, said the State government (then under Pakatan Rakyat) had agreed to hold the forum for the residents to give their views and proposals so that the redevelopment of the site could be carried out according to their “hopes and aspirations”.

The Yau Tet Shin Market was built in 1961. Following an invitation by the then Ipoh Municipal Council, architects throughout Malaysia and Singapore submitted the building’s designs. The winning design, submitted by Architects Booty, Edwards & Partners, was picked and the building was constructed at a cost of $500,000.

The octagonal-designed block had a “projecting shell roof and balcony terminating in two gradual ramps”. It is known to the locals as Pasar Bulat (the circular market) or pat-kok lau (octagonal villa).

It was named after a Kah Ying Hakka’s community leader, Yau Tet Shin, who had risen from mining coolie to towkay. His mansion is currently occupied by the State Health & Medical Department.

He was the developer for much of early Ipoh. He acquired a piece of land from the Dato’ Panglima Kinta and built a theatre on Leech Street in 1891. He then built some shop houses along Panglima Street, as the theatre had made the surrounding land valuable.

Yau Tet Shin, who also owned a large mine at Ampang and the Menglembu Smelting Works near Ipoh, developed a large tract of land east of the Kinta River that bisects the city into New Town and Old Town sectors in the early 1930s.

The Yau Tet Shin Market became a popular rendezvous for tourists, where they could pick up souvenirs, pomeloes and other favourite goodies of the city, as well as being a hangout for youngsters.

In 2001, the building was deemed unsafe by the city council and was demolished. Since then the site has been used as a public car-park and became the main issue of grievance amongst the predominantly Chinese residents of the city.

It was only after the Pakatan Rakyat came into power in Perak in March 2008 general elections that some serious suggestions about the redevelopment of the site were made.

However, just as it was gaining momentum, the state government changed hands and all enthusiasm to develop the project fizzled out. Now, no one is willing to talk about it and any attempt to get comments from those connected with the plan for redevelopment of the site, either ran up against a blank wall or received a request not to write about it yet.

Perhaps those involved need to be re-energised now to get the proposed project going and bring back more life to the city centre, which has become gloomy and will soon be flooded with swiftlet ‘hotels’.

Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir, who was asked earlier about the redevelopment, said no allocation had been given for the project.

His statement shattered any hope of the residents that the proposed “cultural district” will be developed to fill the need for a tourists’ centre in the city, at least not for many more years.

3 thoughts on “Plan for the City’s Cultural District in Limbo

  1. The land was placed under State Secretary Incorporated (SSI) after Yau Tet Shin Bazaar was demolished and DBI has been trying to get it back. Lately there was report that a party associated to the Perak Sultan has ‘taken over’ the land. So any previous plans no longer apply.

  2. The Project was led and initiated by The Perakean League, impressed upon the Pakatan Rakyat Perak to gain political mileage, and instructed Ipoh City Council to support. Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry was always and still is interested in redeveloping the site…certain individuals wanted to construct a multi-storey hotel. The forum was a pilot initiative for many planned initiatives to engage the communities of Ipoh. Politicians and civil servants are never creative, serious, determined, and seek meaningful aspect in undertaking objective driven projects.

  3. Thank you Jerry for reminding the ignorant Ipohites of the YTS Bazaar. I am one of them too, but I attended the forum by City Council in the Syuen Hotel in January 2008. The forum even concluded with an announcement that a competition will be held for the best re-development proposal. Somehow the issue died off very conveniently. Probably the Mr.Mayor U owe us an explanation on the renewal of Yau Tet Shin Bazaar.

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