Rape of the Polo Ground


I am a resident of Ipoh who enjoys a bit of nature by way of some brisk walking at the Polo Ground and regular climbs up Kledang Hill where we can still be blessed with some fresh air and greenery and a suitable place for sweating it out after a long day of work and fatigue.

But sadly this faint bit of luxury and leisure seems to be fast diminishing, which brings me to write this letter to our dear Ipoh Mayor, c/o Ipoh Echo.

I strongly believe it is high time our Mayor and his council come to one conclusive decision as to whether he wishes to keep the Polo Ground as a place for exercise and relaxation for Ipoh folks or as the latest hawking centre for Visit Perak Year 2012? I dearly wish that the Mayor and his councillors can take some time off their busy meeting schedules to observe the goings-on at the Polo Ground at different hours of the day.

I have it up to my neck by now and I just have to voice some of my observations and indeed grievances. The hawking activities at the Polo Ground have spread like a disease uncontrolled. Firstly, there is the obvious hawking by the roadside, van after van, with tables, chairs and stools, even huge shade umbrellas, all springing up like the wild lalang weeds after the monsoon rains, depriving genuine exercise-lovers of precious parking space, attracting drive-by customers who would double-park to eat or even to ‘tapau’ some. Then, there is also hawking in the Polo Ground itself, with ice-cream hawking, balloon hawking, kite hawking, soap-bubble tube hawking, toy hawking, kuih-muih hawking, kacang-putih hawking, syrup drink hawking, T-shirt hawking, etc. etc. As if that is not enough, even at the public toilet, the attendant is hawking some kind of medicated oil or stuff like that in bottles of different sizes and shapes…OMG!

And so, along with all these hawking activities, the whole park compound is littered with plastic containers and spoons, polystyrene plates & bowls, soft drink cans, plastic bags of all shapes and sizes and of course unfinished food of all types and lots of used tissue paper. Some are left on the park benches, some on the children’s playground, some are left hanging from the poor, under-nourished  trees, some are simply being kicked around till they eventually become a part of the park landscape. The ones who have a bit of conscience throw the polystyrene into the dustbins which are forever overflowing. And huge black garbage bags by the tens of them form a permanent temporary feature of the Polo Ground, being nicely and strategically placed every 10 to 15 feet apart. And not forgetting the aroma of exercise sweat mixed with rancid oil and spoiled food permeating around the so-called green lungs of Ipoh. How about including this as a special on The Sights and Sounds of Ipoh for Visit Perak Year 2012?

And I have yet to mention the unnecessary traffic congestion arising as a result of all these hawking activities!

And talking about vehicle traffic, why are so many motorbikes allowed into the Polo Ground compound? These young bikers ride into the compound along the walking paths meant for people who walk and they not only pose a threat to the latter’s safety but they are indeed also another source of air pollution! On the evening of October 24, my eyes nearly popped out when I witnessed a white Kancil, full of passengers, driving into the Polo Ground along the walking path all the way to the toilet area! What exactly is happening to the civic-mindedness of Ipohites? Something is indeed very amiss with our whole education system!

While this rape of the Polo Ground is being played out, I sincerely hope that the other green lung of Ipoh, Kledang Hill in Menglembu, will be spared a similar fate. We, as true sons and daughters of Ipoh, should do our best to prevent the hawking disease from blatantly spreading anywhere else. After all, we all know that there is a time and place for everything in life, including exercising and eating.

I rest my case for now. I pray that our Mayor and his team of councillors can and will find the time to look into this matter and make a firm decision as regards the future fate of the Polo Ground. By taking up this case, hopefully he can arrest the disease and prevent it from further metastasis.

Tan Hwai Chin

6 thoughts on “Rape of the Polo Ground

  1. I am humbly requesting the relevant authorities to step forward and make a clean sweep of all the hawkers at Polo Ground.

    Many petitions, phone calls and countless numbers of complaints were lodged to the parties concerned, unfortunately, till this date no action has been taken on those street hawkers who ‘ rape ‘ the Beautiful Polo Ground, of its glory.

    Does it requires the NATO to intervene and chase the irritating hawkers away from Polo Ground?

    I was saddened on seeing a man selling fowls which as known as ‘ayam serama’ in Malay on my one particular visit to the Polo Ground.

    This beautiful piece of land that was at one time also known as the Joggers Paradise has been turned into a street market by those who has no self respect and regards towards the environment and all the park goers who just wants a peaceful time to relax and a bit of stretching out and all that which you can’t do at the city centre.

    The person in charge please, if ‘YOU’ don’t have the Guts to chase those scavengers away, please resign in a respected way like how ‘Nicolas Sarkozy’ did.

    Let those people who has what it takes to do the necessary and bring back the Grandeur of the Polo Ground. Thank you.

  2. The situation at Polo Ground has been going on for far too long njow and causing havoc not only to residents in the area but the community of Ipoh in general. I agree with “Save our Park” that having hawkers and vendors peddling their ware “pasar malam” style in a park with absolutely NO LEGISLATION to protect the integrity of a park can only come from the “kampung” mentality of a third world country.

    We have the Ipoh Mayor saying we clean up our act and the Sultan himself going to the park for walks, yet the park is being treated with contempt by hawkers who cause noise and environmental pollution, as well as massive traffic congestion along the road and surroundings, which are designated residential areas.

    And they continue to be permitted to do so by a soft Council who are unable to control ten hawkers.

    In the first place, it was an imbecile idea to issue the permits to hawkers at all, when the park had originally been designated a “No Hawker” zone, and for all the right reasons. To be fair to Ipoh Dato’ Bandar Datuk Roshidi Hashim, he has “inherited” this problem from poor decision making from Councils past. As he says in his defence, “This was done several years ago before I took over council’s administration”. However, this does not spare him from having the courage and integrity to do the right thing by correcting the situation which is to relocate the hawkers to a suitable alternative, controlled zone, away from the park and residential houses.

    In the first place, whey should the Council dignify the hawkers by negotiating with them? Surely it is at the MBI’s discretion to take away permits as much as it is for them to issue them. I understand a suitable alternative location has been identified, but the hawkers are resistant to relocating. Do they have a right not to belocated? Why should they be given this right, if what they are doing is against the good of the public?

    Datuk Roshidi informs us that the hawkers’ permits allow them to only sell food and drinks to park users, with no cooking allowed on site. Well, the good Mayor should visit the park and see for himself the real situation there which is not only cooking on site, but the setting up of giant umbrellas, tables and chairs, complete with music, to attract more than just park users. Now, a different breed of people are going to the park for all the wrong reasons, namely not for exercise and recreation or to enjoy the beauty of the environment (as it is no longer serene and peaceful), but simply to patronise the stalls and “lepak” there while watching the world go by, oblivious to the traffic they are causing or the car park bays they are hoarding at the expense of genuine park users. Such goings-on take place around the clock too! Surely this is defeating the purpose of the park in the first place, not to mention an infringement on the privacy and dignity of the park and the residents in the area??

    But what does MBI care?! What has it done about the matter since the problem was published in Ipoh Echo, The Star and other news agencies? I hope Ipoh Echo and The Star can follow up with MBI and pressure them to take action, and take action fast!

    There have been so many letters, complaints and petitions, but shockingly, ALL have fallen on deaf ears thus far. Unless and until the hawkers are relocated, there will be no peace for everyone else – not the residents, nor the Ipoh community, nor even MBI itself.

  3. The Mayor and his Team are solely responsible for the way the happenings are going at Polo Ground. Action has to be taken immediately and not sweep the problem under the carpet. The Mayor talks about keeping Ipoh clean and making it a garden city. Good bold vision, but it comes with strict enforcement and responsibility.

  4. Stop the Carnage at Polo Ground!

    Thank you, Tan Hwai Chin for this excellent letter which says it all for the rest of the community. It is interesting to note that The Star ran a front page expose in its MetroPerak section (“Hawkers’ invasion” by Mr Foong Thim Leng) just the day after. This shows how chronic the situation has become at Polo Ground.

    Ipoh is my hometown; I love my hometown and I am very proud of it. But like Hwai Chin, I too am ashamed and disgusted by the hawker situation at Polo Ground, which puts our lovely city in the backward and totally uncouth “kampung” culture of a country removed from modern day civilisation. (Sorry. Sad but true.)

    For far too long, the curse of the hawker invasion has been allowed to run rampant and spread like a horrific disease out of control. Not only is it a bane to residents, this cursed invasion of a hitherto pristine and peaceful recreational park is putting off the public who used to enjoy going there for all the things a park should really be there for – fresh air, a quiet walk, a jog, some enjoyable recreation time with their families – or simply to seek a green sanctuary away from the bustle and bustle of the city. Indeed,Polo Ground used to be such a sanctuary.

    Tragically, this is no longer the case, as any Ipoh resident tell you. Today, this once-peaceful retreat for the senses has be come a circus act of hawkers, street peddlers, buskers, and exhibition bikers amid a cacophony of noise and chaos. Where is the law and order imperative in maintaining a well-managed public park???

    I have been away from my hometown of Ipoh for a number of years and when I returned to this utter madness, I was shocked beyond words. Why have the authorities allowed the situation to spiral out of control they way it has? Why are the hawkers allowed to operate still?? Word has it that even the Sultan himself came forward to try and put a stop to this “kampung mentality” of hawkers in a park, but to no avail. I am not the only one with questions and objections, but no answers are forthcoming from MBI. City councillors when confronted are sympathetic at best, but evasive in general.

    Unsurprisingly, an original noticeboard stipulating rules and regulations of the park shows that the “No Hawkers Allowed” rule has been forcibly removed. Once a rule that was steadfastly enforced by the local authorities at the time to maintain the sanctity of the park, it seems that the authorities of today have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to it by allowing the hawkers to rewrite the rules and be a law unto themselves. The result is, according to the writer, “tranquility marred”. I think he is being rather kind.

    I think Hwai Chin’s description of it as the “Rape of Polo Ground” is a far more accurate description. And this is without taking into consideration the the goings on after dark at the park! The noise, the bands of suspicious looking people loitering around, the bikers with their antics, the loud music, the rubbish they leave behind.. and the list goes on. Polo Ground has long lost its appeal as a safe and pleasant park for all the family to enjoy, and become another nightmarish food street-cum-pasar malam, which is totally out of place in a park. It is no exaggeration to call it even the”Carnage of Polo Ground” and this opinion is by no means mine alone.

    Mr Foong of The Star quotes our Dato’ Bandar as saying that he hoped the matter would not be politicised. I don’t understand what he means by that and, with all due respect, I would like to ask him how politics
    are involved in the simple manner of preserving the sanctity of a public park, establishing common sense rules and regulations, and ensuring the public respect the environment. It is when the hawkers are allowed to operate unchecked that I fear politics may have come into play. Just as vandals and villains have no place in a park, neither do vendors and streed peddlers!

    Above all else, I am sad and disapppointed by the Perak Government, which I once respected. Bad enough that they have not done the right thing, worse still is they have allowed themselves to be arm twisted into condoning something which benefits only a handful of hawkers while neglecting the good of the rest of the community, the society in general and the city itself.

    Dato Bandar, please be brave and do the right thing for the people of Ipoh and the beautiful city we live in! Enough is enough!!

    Chong Pei-Shyen

  5. i’m an australian who has been living in your wonderfull town now for six years; i first discovered the polo ground when i came to ipoh and what a wonderfull place to excersize; and as you rightly point out the place has become a garbage tip, every morning its full of rubbish left strewn all over the place from the night before, such a shame, i’m sure if you asked the people who are dropping there litter everywhere would they do the same thing in there street; i’m now back in australia for a short time but hope that when i return the park will be restored to it’s former glory

  6. I’ve stopped going to Polo Ground ever since it became a hawkers center, ever though it used to be my favourite exercise ground since my younger days. The authority shouldn’t allow these hawkers there because Polo Ground is also where our Sultan takes his morning walks in the morning.If polo-ground image is marred by these hawkers, it also means disrespecting our Sultan. What happened to the enforcement team like before, during Dato Hassan Nawawi times? Polo Ground is now an eye-sore and going there only provoke my anger. Before, the public go to Polo-ground to exercise and to maintain health but now there go there to only eat and become unhealthy. I hope MBI will do something before it gets worse.It’s a joke for the much publicized mass aerobic and exercise program held every weekends but at the other end of the padang, people are gorging on hawker’s food. It’s time for the Health Ministry to step in.

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