Are the Youths of Ipoh Coming or Going?

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by Joanna Gough

Sensation Of Sound (S.O.S) Club with Digi’Tal DJ. Photo by Kenny Chong
Sensation Of Sound (S.O.S) Club with Digi’Tal DJ. Photo by Kenny Chong

At 3am on a Sunday morning, after clubbing at shoulder packed S.O.S. Club, Digi’tal DJ (Ipoh’s most celebrated DJ) and I sat at Nasi Vanggey, Greentown, pondering the demographics of clubbing in Ipoh. Seven days a week, the club is full of people with a minimum of 500 on ordinary days and on weekends S.O.S. is fully booked out. Throughout Malaysia, you can’t find a club with 100 people on a Sunday night let alone packed to overflowing. S.O.S however, has at least 500 people on a Sunday night. It raises questions, like “Are Ipoh’s youth/young adults, that into alcohol and loud music?” Or is there something else?

Platform Needed: where Youth are Encouraged to Do Crazy Things and to Make Money from it

Bimbotic mockery of Pomelos in Parody by Ipoh Lang Productions
Bimbotic mockery of Pomelos in Parody by Ipoh Lang Productions

Youths! Our highly energetic population has this insatiable need to make things and put a value on it. Take for instance the latest craze of the Opa Gangnam Style. Ipoh Lang Productions created a parody of the Korean pop video in Cantonese that went viral with more than 650,000 views on the online YouTube world. Needless to say it was a hit! The production went against the conservative, well behaved stereotype of Ipoh youths and had young people dancing like looneys in public, looking a little mental with puckered lips at the Railway Station, girls being bimbotic and playing with pomelos in Old Town and boys fake beating someone up in front of Foh San. There’s a saying that ‘Stupid is Creative’, and with 650,000 views we can applaud Ipoh Lang Productions for a marvelous job well done. The Ipoh-centric parody focuses on the many foods around the City and the culture of Ipoh society today. But the execution of choreography and video angles parodying the town was what really gave it the comic angle and pulled the stupendous response on YouTube.

PORT as Creative Platform

Team BESKAL competing at the Creative BusinessCup in Copenhagen; R-L: Nik Mohd Misuarie, Amir Baharuddin and Mohd Nazrinfwat
Team BESKAL competing at the Creative Business
Cup in Copenhagen; R-L: Nik Mohd Misuarie, Amir Baharuddin and Mohd Nazrinfwat

BESKAL, a bicycle bag designed by Ipoh boy Nik Mohd Misuarie, won Top 8 Creative Business in the World at the Creative Business Cup 2012 held in Copenhagen. This bicycle bag came about 10 years ago when Nik, an up and coming BMX extreme rider, was a student at SMK Dato’ Megat Khas on Jalan Labrooy. Nik could not take his bicycle to school because ‘Uncle Bas’ would charge an extra RM15. So he made a bag, put the bicycle inside and carried it on the bus. The bicycle being in the bag = no charge. Ten years later, he met with people at PORT (People of Remarkable Talent)  Ipoh  and  the  bicycle bag resurfaced again. It seems that this problem is a big problem in urban Asia. Bicycles though encouraged, are not allowed on LRTs/MRTs/public transportation systems. Uncle Bas did well in charging the boy the extra RM15. BESKAL is now on its way to changing the way people go to work in cities on an everyday basis.

Platform for Visual Arts

Kim Jeow Wang awarded BRONZE at the Creative AsiaAwards 2012 for Wedding Open Category
Kim Jeow Wang awarded BRONZE at the Creative Asia
Awards 2012 for Wedding Open Category

Then there’s Kim Jeow Wang, who seems to be on a streak of winning awards from around the world and Asia. This prestigious photographer started off with an education in Multimedia at the Perak Institute of Art but due to financial constraints, he did a ‘Steve Jobs’ and dropped out. He then picked up a job at Bridal House. It didn’t focus on Multimedia entirely. The wedding gown shop focused heavily on photography. And there he resided and worked full time for 8-9 years. However, after picking up the heavy skills of photography, Kim Jeow Wang grew restless and needed more freedom in creating his compositions and photographs. He left Bridal House and soon opened U Wang Studio in the year 2010. There he created from scratch his name and fame as a Wedding Photographer. He won bronze for the Wedding Category of Creative Asia Award 2012 and First Place for Engagement at the Wedding Portraits and Photographers International Award.

When asked where he got his drive and motivation from, he said it was from the competition around the city. “There are so many wedding photographers and studios everywhere, I feel that I need to push myself to be different”. With DSLRs (Digital Single-Lens Reflex cameras) being affordably priced these days, the Perak Lens Association itself has more than 500 photographers within the association and a good amount making their side incomes from weddings around the city. Kim Jeow Wang succeeds with his wedding packages of “We Do Different” by designing conceptual ideas specifically catered to the lifestyle of the client. Thanks to the strong Family Culture in Ipoh, many do want to get married and every couple looks for that idea that closely resembles who they are. Kim Jeow Wang designs that.

Living Life Worth ‘Dying For’

On a more prosaic level, it’s the dynamism that one brings to the workplace and the energy created in the process that motivates Leeza Moorthi who is enjoying her job as an Assistant Lecturer on English and Communication subjects. Having studied Literature at an Ipoh university, the usual route would be to  head off to KL to get a job. Leeza Moorthi pursued her internship in Kuala Lumpur as a Company Secretary but realised that the KL lifestyle is not all the hype it was made up to be. A desk bound job was no place for a sociable Ipoh girl, so after graduating with a degree she came home and helped out at the Mariaville Kindergarten on Jalan Francois. The energy of children and being around such vibrant individuals (aka*Brats*) got Leeza Moorthi to realise how interesting teaching can be. Everyday a new interaction, new ideas, new worlds and as every child is learning – lots of humour and laughter around. Now she’s around vibrant individuals at the university and consistently being challenged to improve herself as an Assistant Lecturer. Her drive comes from interacting with youths and from the challenge of being one step ahead of them in order to act as a guide and mentor. The energy generated makes her feel that she’s contributing to society and living a ‘life worth dying for’.

Its All About Collective Energy

So to go back to our 3am conversation at Nasi Vanggey which started this article, and having dissected these three success stories, Digi’tal DJ and I came to the conclusion that the youths of Ipoh are not thronging to clubs because they’re trying to get themselves drunk or drown their sorrows. There’s a centredness at the core of our youths and that is collective ENERGY. It’s the Energy you get from being in a room of 500 people listening to the same music, watching the dancers and clapping. For some it’s about the dancing and laughing and positive energy from the people who are there to have a fantastic time.

Ipoh Lang Production’s energy is from the gangnam style which took the world by storm. The K-Pop Sensation was everywhere. U Wang Studio absorbs competition and exudes the energy that drives any business forward. He pushes himself creatively. BESKAL’s Nik Mohd Mizuarie, coming from a lower income group, was challenged by a bus driver and from that, he turned this one unfortunate event into an opportunity to change the world. What all youths are thriving on is a continuous form of Energy of Attraction.

Our youths need and use this energy to move forward, and although in the old days, clubs were seen as a cause for social problems. In Ipoh, there just might be a positive outcome for this.

In the age of digital entertainment, our iPhones, iPads and Facebook are acting like the Big Brother of the 21st Century. Every device has a camera and every photo taken ends up on Facebook, AND that’s a great thing. It allows anyone and everyone to see and be seen.

Nurture Not Nuke the Energy

In summary, Talents can only do so much with their skills on a budget: They need the financial and public support of the City in order to be a success. With the many projects that will be up and coming over the years lets continue to lend our utmost support in encouraging our younger generation not so much by talking, but by showing up and learning and connecting them to greater potentials. Ipoh is moving forward and can’t always cater to the past. In order for Youth to be able to stay here, they need to express themselves. And Society needs to encourage that. Though many young adults prefer to be true to their roots and stick with family, there is still a huge need for any young, vibrant energetic individual to want to compete in a Global Market and be as successful as U Wang Studios, BESKAL, Ipoh Lang and many more.

The Energy needs to Grow. It’s time we plugged that into Ipoh Society and Charge it Up.

3 thoughts on “Are the Youths of Ipoh Coming or Going?

  1. Why don’t many youths stay in Ipoh? It seems clear, from Joanna and her friends, that many youths, having studied elsewhere and returned home, do want to live and work here. But they need some appreciation for their youthful vitality, abundant energy, and they need interesting and creative jobs.

    It seems that the long-time residents of Ipoh want the city to remain livable, and continue its gentle pace of life, and not to suffer the trappings of a bustling metropolis, even as our population increases and climbs to a million in the foreseeable future.

    It has been suggested by the likes of TheStar columnist, Karim Azlan, that Ipoh can be the ideal retirement city. Youths are required to service the needs of retirees, which probably include their parents. There are jobs for youths in this town, but are they what the youths want to do?

    There are many issues, of course, but let’s start a conversation on what can be done to keep our youths productive and active, to preserve a heritage admired by so many visitors who have had enough of cities big and developed but without a soul. Our youths are the continuum of a culture unique to Ipoh. We are a city of old money, it’s been said. Does that not bode well for the future?

  2. Hi Everyone who does read this article. I’d like to say that this article is a discussion made up from 5 people residing within the city. I understand that it is not a proper formal analysis and that there are various opinions that might arise from it. Feel free to chat here and we’ll take it off? A good discussion always moves people to think of other factors that can be contributing. Voice Up :). I’m all ears. All views (including the religious, political, etc.etc. racist etc.etc. anything goes) are encouraged.

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