A Place for the Talented

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Institut Darul Ridzuan PORT - a place to exhibit artworksIt never occurred to me that this once dilapidated government quarters on the edge of oblivion would one day be the home for the talented or the “remarkable”. Located along busy Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah (formerly Tiger Lane) a stone’s throw away from Fella Design, a household name in the home-furnishing industry, the converted government quarters is easily identifiable by the lettering “PORT” which stand proudly on a pedestal at the entrance to the house.

I was equally puzzled as to why this insignificant living quarters, which was reportedly a haven for drug addicts, could have acquired such prominence in so short a time. The empty building, long abandoned by the state for reasons of funding and, probably, the lack of qualified tenants, has now assumed a more likeable role since it came under the wings of Institut Darul Ridzuan, better known by its acronym IDR.

What is IDR all about?  Institut Darul Ridzuan is in essence a think-tank under the ambit of the state government. It came into existence in 2005, being the brainchild of the present Chief Minister, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir who was then the Executive Councillor for ICT, Manpower and Technology. On assuming the chief ministerial post in February 2009, Zambry took it upon himself to establish the equivalent of former Premier Abdullah Badawi’s famous 4th Floor Boys.

With the backing of the Chief Executive Officer cemented, IDR became fully operational in March 2009. In May 2009 Aminuddin Hashim was appointed by Zambry as its Executive Officer tasked with the responsibility of charting the course of the institution.

The youngish-looking bespectacled forty-something Aminuddin comes with the right credentials for the chief executive post. An accountant by training, Aminuddin has what it takes to bring IDR to the level of respectability envisioned by the Chief Minister. His responsibilities are varied but being a man of finance his primary role is to provide and suggest ideas on ways to better manage the state’s coffers. The many economic transformational plans now in place originate from IDR. The latest being the state budget for 2012.

Economics is not the topic I am going to delve on today. What I have is more personal in nature, something to do with the many hidden talents that Ipoh possesses today. Talents which, if not exposed, will go to waste.

I have been approached a few times by friends who know of someone who is a great artist, a talented musician, a master craftsman, etc. They all suffer from one debilitating shortcoming – the lack of space to showcase their expertise. Two such talents were introduced to me recently. Both are artists in their own right, one with a college degree the other without. Their water-colour paintings of flowers and birds are flawlessly beautiful. But neither of them have the resources nor the means to bring their expertise to another level. These talents, in all probability, will be side-lined and, like many others, will soon slip into obscurity never to surface again. If such a fate awaits them, then it is only proper that we do something before the inevitable happens.

At a dinner organised specifically for the media by IDR recently, I broached the subject of latent talents to Aminuddin, the host. Aminuddin took time to explain the intricacies of IDR and what the letters “PORT” stand for. “People of Remarkable Talents,” he remarked without batting an eyelid.

“This is the place for your two artist friends,” said Aminuddin. “We’ll provide them the space to showcase their artworks and may extend some financial assistance if need be,” he added.

The offer was simply too good to dismiss. So I am making this known to all and sundry. For those of you who are looking for a place to exhibit your artworks, Institut Darul Ridzuan’s PORT, along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Ipoh is the place. For details please call the centre’s manager, Amir Baharuddin at 012-5258213.