All posts by ipoh

Panglima Lane Is Falling Down


Another unoccupied shop lot along Concubine Lane had parts of its front upper floor and roof tiles fall on the lane below on 28 December 2010. In June this year, another unit along the lane lost its back upper portion.

Yesterday’s unit, No 5 is located next to popular Lou Chiu Pai (old brand) Restaurant Wong Koh Kee. Luckily when the roof tiles fell at 930am there were no passersby below.

According to the owner of the premises Mr Yong Sin Wah, the unit is a pre war building and has been vacant for more than 10 years. Yong acknowledged that MBI had contacted him whereby he had arranged for a contractor to immediately clear the debris below and put up a barrier outside the premises to alert pedestrians to the danger.

Yong also stated his contractor would start work to demolish the building next week and would take a week to complete the job.

Concubine Lane is a popular tourist destination and has been earmarked for conservation by the state government with an allocation of RM450,000 for conservation work. A check with Dato Hamidah Osman, the State Exco for Tourism for an update revealed that RM300,000 had been released so far to MBI two months ago adding that “however MBI has as yet not reverted back to me” on the scope of work to be carried out.


PSPA Singers Raise Rm7k For Orang Asli


Christmas is a time for giving and the performance by the PSPA (Perak Society for Performing Arts) Singers inspired the audience to donate a sum of RM7,000 when the hat was passed around.

The donation took place at the event entitled “Message of Love and Inspiration” a choral presentation by the PSPA Singers which was jointly organised by YMCA and St Peters Church, Ipoh. The purpose of the event was to generate funds for the Christmas events organised by the Orang Asli community.

According to Dr SK Teoh, St Peter’s Church Council Chairman, “there is a large Orang Asli community in the area around Tapah, Kampar and Gopeng who are active during Christmas. Hence any charity provided would be a benefit to their community”

The PSPA Singers under Director Chin Yoong Kim provided an inspiring performance which gradually brought on the mood of Christmas when the choir sang Christmas music and carols.

The Singers, all volunteers, had been preparing since September to perform during the Christmas season with the goal of raising funds for charity purposes. The Singers had two weeks earlier performed at the Fatimah Hospital Chapel.


Unnecessary killing of 50+ year old trees in Ipoh


old trees uprooted ipoh

Last week 4-5 of among the oldest trees in Ipoh were uprooted along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah or Tiger Lane, Ipoh, next to the Royal Perak Golf Club.

old trees uprooted ipoh

The land was apparently recently acquired by the State Government for the construction of a hotel, and the seemingly first step in this endeavour was to thoughtlessly and without any form of public consultation, destroy some of the oldest plant-life in the city, if not the country.

old trees uprooted ipoh

These magnificent trees not only provided iconic character, but also immense beauty and shade to one of the most picturesque parts of Ipoh.

old trees uprooted ipoh

This senseless act becomes even more aggravating when one considers how the protection of these trees would have greatly enhanced the beauty and attraction of the intended hotel.

Navin (Ipohite for over 30 years!)


Reply from the Mayor’s office:

“The Council finds it necessary to fell the trees based on recommendations by the insurer who said that the trees were old and posed a threat to passers-by”. Datuk Bandar.

Nativity Play Reliving The Birth Of Jesus Christ


Its Christmas and the Churches around Ipoh have been busy putting up the Nativity Play depicting the birth of Jesus Christ.

For OMPH Church the preparation for the play was done by the Sunday school teachers and began at the beginning of November after the end of the PMR examination. Parents / teachers and former students helped organize the script, rearrange the music and design the set. The week before opening night saw a daily hive of activity.

The result was a successful show which saw the audience’s lively participation in the carol singing and children listening attentively with wide eyes to the play.

Over at the Church of St Michael Ipoh their show was a similar success with many parishioners and public,  praising the organizers for a good show even though the play was in the Chinese dialect. For most of the audience, it was the Nativity Play, where everyone knew the script by heart.

The play at St Michaels was organised by the Chinese Apostolate group. This was their first ever effort and due to the encouragement of former Parish Priest Fr Michael Cheah. This being their first time, their preparations started in August. Their show was held over 3 nights. The show has been invited to perform in Play Penang and will be performing at the Holy Spirit Cathedral Hall on 26 December.

According to the spokesmen from both the churches the importance of staging the Nativity Play was to instill in children the real meaning of Christmas and its origins. From the way the children had been attentively listening I believe the message got through.


Tong Yuen Festival


The Perak Builders Guild more commonly known as Perak Kin Cho Hong hosted a Tong Yuen dinner for 110 senior citizens from four homes, Simee, Jelapang, Sungai Siput Old Folks Home and Luck and Harmony Home, Gopeng. The function was held at Simee Home for the Aged.

(l-r) 2nd from left Vincent Lee, Simee Home GM, Dato Thong and Builders Guild President Tang Chong Seong.

The Guild’s President Mr Tang Chong Seong said that the guild had celebrated the festival every year but this was the first time they were sharing the celebration with senior citizens.

Dato Thong Fah Chong, the MCA Ipoh Timor Chief who was the guest of honor for the event commended the Guild feting the senior citizens,  saying their act was a “fond gesture of appreciation”

Gutinous rice balls and Poon Choi

The dinner for the night started with a festival bowl of tong yuen (glutinous rice balls). This was followed by that sumptuous “Hakka dish” Poon Choi followed by glutinous rice, steamed chicken, water tofu and a desert. The meal must have been very good because the senior citizens cleared every dish.

The senior citizens were then given “ang pows’ before the night ended slightly after 8pm.


A Centenarian’s Christmas Celebration


The Home for the Aged located at Simee held their Christmas party for the inmates on Sunday December 19.

The Patron of the Home, Dato’ Chang Ko Youn, together with Canning Councillor Ceylyn Tay was on hand to present gifts to the inmates.

‘Birthday girl’ Rosumah Soosai

This year’s celebration was especially auspicious as one of the inmates, Rosumah a/p Soosai, celebrated her 100th birthday. Her actual birth date is 24 December 1910.

Rosumah is from Taiping and has been an inmate with the home since 2005. According to the Home’s administrator, Helen Lai, other than having hypertension, Rosumah’s health is generally good for her age.
Rosumah, though a little hard of hearing, speaks good English saying that she was a student of Taiping Convent School and “was taught English by the Nuns till the 4th standard”. She was married at the age of 16 and had three children. None of them are still around but she has “plenty of grandchildren” one of whom, Cathiline, visits her every Sunday.

Rusumah with her grandaughter Cathline

For Christmas she will be going to Taiping for a day to spend time with her grandchildren and their families. Regarding her diet she says she eats whatever is provided to by the Home. She spends most of her time praying saying “I am ready for God’s call”.

During his speech Dato’ Chang praised the Home for being well managed, saying that “although the home was run by a charity it had grown tremendously since he first became its patron 16 years ago” adding that all donations were most welcomed.


Bits and Bytes Bring CHEER TO SENIORS


This Christmas and New Year season will be a most memorable and joyful one for several senior citizens in the city. No more excruciating loneliness during these festive days as they yearn for their loved ones. Now with the aid of computers, they can not only exchange greetings with their loved ones, they can also see and speak to them.

Lorraine explaining to Vivian Teh and Lee Pek Chan

In their twilight years, senior citizens, more than ever, find themselves needing to be constantly in touch with their loved ones. Due to various circumstances their children and grandchildren live far away, and as absence makes their hearts grow fonder, they yearn to see and talk to them especially during auspicious occasions.

Lorraine demonstrating how to view photos from CD-R to Flora Loh, Carol Ng, Vivian Teh,, Raymond Chin, David Ho, Lee Pek Chan, Ellen Saunders, Agnes Chin and Daniel Teh.

Instead of relying solely on the telephone to keep in touch, today with the advancement of technology, their lonely days which they had silently kept in their hearts for years are over. Now with just a “click” of the mouse, they can be connected to each other. Realizing how computers can connect them, many senior citizens in the city have transformed themselves from computer illiterates to computer literates.

Thanks to the many patient volunteers tutoring the senior citizens and helping them in establishing connections through the various internet facilities, such as Skype, Facebook and e-mail, many seniors today who took the plunge to get over their fear of technology, no longer feel the loneliness of living on their own. Their new-found technological expertise is bringing joy as they can e-mail, chat, or even speak directly and see their loved ones on the computer screens, receiving and posting photographs at convenient times. Even their faraway children and grandchildren are delighted by this new found connectivity and have expressed their gratitude to the volunteers for making that communication possible.


Groups of Voluntary Tutors
There are various groups of volunteers and individuals providing basic computer classes in the city for senior citizens who are keen to venture into the computer world which they once considered “beyond their comprehension.”  For one of the volunteers, Mrs. Lorraine Francis, it all began on a Saturday evening. “I was sitting on the pew of the church browsing through the bulletin and suddenly a notice ‘Volunteers to teach senior citizens how to use the computer’ caught my attention,” she explained. 

“Well, I thought to myself, I could be of some use here. With my husband’s imme-diate approval, I approached Pastor Jeya (of the Canning Garden’s Methodist Church) to render my service”.

“Little did I know that this would turn out to be most rewarding for me instead. What began as a mere service quickly changed into an event I look forward to every Saturday morning,” she said.

What moved Lorraine’s heart was the reason each “uncle and aunty” gave. It was not that they had retired and just wanted to pass time or keep themselves occupied, but more so to stay connected with family members.

“Most of them have children overseas and like any of us, we sometimes forget that they are relational beings too. They are willing to face this ‘monster’ called the computer just to keep in touch with their children and grandchildren, to receive news on what’s happening over there, to see photos of their grandchildren growing up, to see videos of or have live chats with their grandchildren speaking baby-language.”

Senior citizens concentrating on their lessons

Grateful “Students” And Family Members
“It’s a pleasure teaching them as they are so attentive and diligent in taking notes as well as practising the exercises assigned for the week. Now I’m more than impressed at what they can do with e-mails. Sending e-mails with formatted text, attaching photos, saving attachments received, using Google, sending video links are now all at their fingertips or should I say, mouse-clicks.”

“On a busy day at work, I’ve been blessed to be a recipient of some encouraging e-mails sent by my very own students. I’m sure this Christmas and New Year season will not be a sad and lonely one, but an exciting one.”

“The saying ‘To bless and be blessed’, is a phrase that brings deeper meaning to me today, thanks to my Senior Citizens’ Class of 2010,” she added.

On the day of the briefing, there were 30 senior citizens. They were divided into four classes as there were four volunteers. The oldest in Lorraine’s class is about 77 years of age. He and his wife learn together which is quite a sight to behold.

“The first thing my class wanted to learn was how to use e-mail. Most of them have Gmail accounts, so I began with that. We’ve finished that topic which took about eight weeks,” she said.

After a short “semester break”, they returned to the classes to learn how to transfer photos from the camera to the laptop and then onto the CD. The other volunteers teach different topics. The other tutors in the group are Mr. How Moh Huat, Mr. Ong Tit Hin, and Mr. Kirby Samydurai.

Vivian Teh and How Moh Huat checking a photograph in a camera

Opening Up A Whole New World
Here is how some of the jubilant “students” described the computer classes, which according to them have opened up a whole new world, as well as allowed them to discover that they have been missing out on lots of things out there.

“We wanted to attend computer class despite knowing that it is difficult. But we decided to try anyway and learn as much as we can absorb. The classes have helped us learn so much, so easily” said Mrs. Vivian Teh, a student in Lorraine’s class.

“I’ve been able to communicate with my daughter in Canada through Gmail even better after attending the computer class. We’ve also shared photos of our holiday trips with her,” said Mrs. Flora Loh another student.

Mr. Daniel Teh praised Lorraine for having been a blessing to all the students in teaching them the basic skills needed to send emails and also download the pictures taken in their cameras.

Gerakan Service Team
City councillor Ceylyn Tay, who led a Gerakan service team, said free internet lessons were organised by her team in July and attended by 52 participants aged between 40 to 73 years.

During the two-hour class, they were taught about internet, how to search information through internet, and reading the latest news from relevant websites.

“The hardest thing we realised is that many of them are very uneasy with putting their fingers on the keyboard, so it took quite some time for us to hold their hands and teaching them step by step,” said Ceylyn.

‘‘We also encourage them to practise at home or go to the nearest cyber cafe, as some of the elderly said their children won’t allow them to touch their computers, so we suggested the use of cyber cafe.” At the end of the session, the participants were presented with a certificate of attendance each, as encouragement.

Ipoh Echo salutes such community projects for opening up windows of opportunity for senior citizens to become more technologically savvy and thus brightening their lives.

Jerry Francis

Empowering the Poor


Yayasan Bina Upaya (YBU) or literally translated as the Capacity Building Foundation is another one of  the products of  Perak Amanjaya, the Silver State’s comprehensive transformation plan to achieve a developed status by year 2015.

Programme Anak Angkat

YBU, a Private Trust Foundation formed under the Trustees Act in October 2009, commenced full operations last March with an allocation of RM4 million from the state government for its activities.

The role of this foundation is categorized under the plan’s first of 7 KRA’s (Key Result Areas): Equitable Development and Distribution whose goal is to raise living standards of low-income households by creating a sustainable livelihood (kehidupan lestari).

To make the goal a reality YBU is set on empowering respective communities, through its programmes of distributing economic benefits in various ways.

YBU Chief Executive Khairul Azwan Harun

Ipoh Echo recently met up with its Chief Executive Khairul Azwan Harun to gain an insight of its structure and more importantly to learn what criteria need to be met  to warrant assistance from the foundation.

“This programme is open to ALL communities, it is multi-racial and all can apply, even the orang asli” said Khairul excitedly.  Khairul, 34, comes from an accounting background and had worked earlier in audit and corporate finance with Ernst and Young before joining government service four years ago.

The goal of the Foundation is in line with the Federal Government’s 10th Malaysia Plan whose focus group is the “40% which belong to the bottom half of society or kumpulan kebawahan”, those whose monthly income per family unit is around “RM440 per month”.

Micro credit recipient Wong Ying Fung

The foundation’s activities currently are:
1) Micro Credit Finan-cing. This programme enables community members to apply for loans for working capital in economic activities such as opening a food stall, or increasing output of existing small businesses. Based on the micro credit system, loans are interest free and do not require collateral nor guarantor.

Loan values, ranging from RM1,000 to RM20,000, are given for eligible applicants between the ages of 18-60. Applicants fill an application form available at its office or on its website after which YBU will send its teams (usually within a week) for an on-site visit to vet the applicants “from all aspects to minimize the risk of non-performing loans (NPL).”

Till last October, 69 applicants had been given loans. Interestingly, the loans applied for were to purchase equipment like sewing and cendol-making machines besides working capital. The applicants included a number of single mothers.

NGOs too are eligible to apply with approvals to be given on a ‘per programme basis’. The requirement for NGOs is that they “must have an active track record and a working paper must be submitted with their request”.

2) Infrastructure Deve-lopment Programme refers to their housing assistance programme to construct new housing (3, 2 or 1 room houses) and home repairs damaged by natural causes. The purpose of this programme is to enable a comfortable and quality living environment for the poor. This year, 20 recipients have been given keys to their homes while another 15 are currently under construction.

3) Adoption Programme. This programme calls for individuals and corporations to sponsor children studying in Years 5 and 6 by contributing RM50 per month which would go towards meals and incidentals. According to Khairul, it is a trend for children from the low-income group to drop out of school. The reason for this being poverty and parental attitude. Currently there are 100 children enjoying this programme. However if there were more participants for this programme more children could benefit.

Future Pawn Broking Service
For the future, Khairul announced that the Foundation would be introducing a Pawn Broking service sometime next year. This service, based on Islamic Pawn Broking rules is currently being offered by Bank Rakyat and Agro Bank and has proven successful. “Based on data from loan applicants, most have “some form of ‘inheritance’ from the spouse or parents” which can be used to unlock its value for capacity improvement.

Gurdip Singh of Tg Tualang receiving the mock keys to his house

YBU Administration
YBU’s office is located at Greentown Square and is manned by 35 staff. However it has a volunteer force of 1,000 currently spread throughout the state to help it identify candidates and vet applicants. Donations made to the foundation are tax exempted. Additionally, under the Trustees Act, donors are entitled to a ‘statement of expenditure’ report from the foundation.

The cry from YBU is to please make them an alternative option so they can contribute back to society via their programmes. As for Khairul, his Key Performance Index (KPI) is not how many applications YBU processes but how many sustainable livelihoods he can create through the programme.

Based on the all-encompassing approach the foundation has adopted, some of those from the lower-40% bracket might just have an opportunity to pull themselves up and beyond.

James Gough