All posts by JAG

Flying Fox Maiden Flight Postponed.


11 Dec 13-001

Flying Fox Airways maiden flight to Medan, Indonesia scheduled for Friday 13 December has been postponed.

The announcement of the postponement was informed to the media by Flying Fox CEO Daniel Lee at a press conference held at his office barely 48 hours before its maiden flight touchdown

According to Lee he was informed in late November by the relevant authority to postpone the flight ‘for the time being as Sultan Azlan Shah Airport can only cater forATR-72 aircraft’ which is currently being used by Firefly Airlines.

Flying Fox Airways uses Boeing 737-400 aircraft and has a seating capacity of 160 passengers. Its flight schedule for December is two times per week increasing to 4x per week in January and daily by June.

Lee’s immediate task now was to reimburse customers who had purchased their tickets.

Meantime a spokesman from the Ministry of Transport when contacted stated that the runway is being upgraded and the flight has been postponed for safety reasons. The upgrading work tentatively would take four months to complete

Ipoh Airport including its runway was recently upgraded at a cost of RM42 million. It was completed in November 2012.


MBI’s Tree Cutting Exercise


Ipoh City Council has been cutting trees around Ipoh for the last two weeks and Ipoh Echo readers have been calling in to complain. They wanted to know why mature trees were being removed. One call was from an excited caller reporting that MBI was removing “all the remaining Casuarina trees” in front of SM St Michael’s.


MBI removed the trees in front of SM St Michaels

A check with MBI’s Landscape Director, Encik Meor Abdullah Zaidi, revealed that “the root system of the SMI Casuarina trees were not healthy and could be in danger of being uprooted in the event of a heavy storm”.


He gave an example of the heavy 5-minute storm in March this year which uprooted two Casuarina trees in front of the school that luckily had landed onto Ipoh Padang. Meor added that the SMI trees would be replaced but “would be replanted inside of Ipoh Padang along the perimeter fencing”.

Uprooted tress during the March storm.

Similarly, SM St Michael’s PTA President, Joseph Michael Lee, thanked Mayor Roshidi and MBI “for their prompt decision and action for removing the unhealthy trees as the safety of their students can never be compromised”.

A pre-emptive measure to avoid falling tree incidents

Regarding the tree-cutting exercise, Meor explained that MBI had initiated this exercise since September as part of their pre-emptive measure “to reduce the load of trees when a heavy storm breezes through Ipoh” and thus avoiding any uprooted and falling tree incidents during the year-end rainy season. The exercise included trimming of trees and if their root system was not healthy, the tree would be removed.

Meor gave the example of the tree root system of several large trees in Greentown. Although their tree root system was healthy the ground could not support the tree and “they had to be cut down”.


Closing of The Year of Faith

Bishop Sebastian Francis closing the Year of Faith

Perak’s Deanery which is made up of twelve parishes in the state congregated on the grounds of OMPH Church Ipoh Garden to celebrate the Closing of the Year of Faith on Sunday November 24, the last Sunday of the catholic calendar before advent, the Christmas season.

Priests (above) and Altar Servers from the various Parishes

Bishop Sebastian Francis con-celebrated the mass together with priests and 5000 parishioners from the twelve parishes. During the celebration 230 children received their first Holy Communion.


The Closing of the Year of Faith which was celebrated globally was started on October 11, 2012. It is a call to Catholics to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the catechism so that they may deepen their knowledge of the faith.

Bishop Francis in his homily announced that the year of faith for his diocese was a success as the number of catechumens being baptized had doubled compared to previous years.

faith 1a

Francis, read the message from the Pope which said that “upon entering the door of faith take the next step into The Light of Faith which is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence.” He added that the theme for 2014 is “Discipleship: Called, Chosen, Sent”.


The parishioners, consisting of Chinese, Indians, Orang  Asli and East Malaysians, made up the congregation and the mass was conducted in four languages. The offertory was led by the different ethnic groups who were dressed in their own cultural attire.

Sign language

Interestingly, with all the different ethnic groups and languages, Bishop Francis added another language, sign language, when he led the congregation in prayer.

The theme for 2014 “Discipleship: Called, Chosen, Sent”.


“Nasi Ganja” Outlet Reopens



Mari-mari makan Nasi Ayam Masak Merah

Restoran Nasi Ayam Masak Merah, popularly referred to as “Nasi Ganja”, at Jalan Yang Kalsom, Ipoh reopened for business on Monday, November 18, three days after a close-down order for “preparing food in an unhygienic environment”.

The outlet was ordered to close for two weeks by the Kinta District Health Department following a joint operation with Ipoh City Council, the Perak Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Department and the Perak Immigration Department on Thursday, November 14.

Mohd Nihmatullah (left) abided by all the Health Department requirements.

Restaurant manager, Mohd Nihmatullah Syed Mustafa, said he had immediately complied with the close-down order. Officials from the district health department returned on Sunday, November 17 for an inspection and, having found that conditions imposed were met, gave their approval for a reopening.

State Health Director, Dato’ Dr Nordiyanah bt Hj Hassan, when contacted said that so long as the outlet complied with all requirements it could reopen straight away.

The long queue was ‘conspicuously’ missing

According to Nihmatullah, the owner cleaned up the kitchen and abided by other health requirements, which included installing a new refrigerator. The overall cost was about RM10, 000.

During lunchtime on re-opening day, Monday, November 18, the long queue was conspicuously missing. Despite this, the restaurant was packed. Unlike before, it was a lot easier to find a seat.


Nihmatullah said that business was 40 percent below usual but he was happy, as many of his regular customers were present. “It’ll take sometime for normalcy to return,” he added.

Ang Kuang Ngiap, the proprietor of Yong Suan Coffee Shop, was glad that the whole episode was over. “The nasi kandar outlet has been with the shop since we started business in 1959 and when it was ordered to close we have to close too.”

Regular customer for 20 years,  Lee (2nd from right) with friends. “we will keep coming”

Mr Lee, a regular customer, said, “My friends and I have been eating at this restaurant for over 20 years. We’ll keep coming no matter what happened.”



Way Beyond Ketupat and Kimchi

Ketupat and Kimchi a wonderful cultural presentation

Ketupat is to Malaysia what Kimchi is to Korea. The culture and taste may be different but when brought together the beauty and joy each culture exudes is still a wonderful experience. Such was the cultural experience that was evident at the cultural extravaganza “Beyond Ketupat and Kimchi, Celebrating Our Cultural Inheritance” a Korean and Malaysian cultural dance presentation.

Cultural exchange. (left photo. l-r) Malaysian artist Khor, Howard Lee, Korea artist Josh Kim and Korea Embassy Secretary Chung. (right photo) Danielle Liang presenting certificates.

The presentation was organised by event company ‘The Brain Truster’ led by Danielle Liang and ‘Prospect’ an NGO headed by State Assemblyman for Pasir Pinji, Howard Lee Chuan How. Second Secretary & Consul Embassy of the Republic of Korea Chung Chi Won drove down from Kuala Lumpur to grace the event that evening.

Korean national dance team Branch 2 Dance.

Korean national dance team Branch 2 Dance performed the traditional Korean dances while MBI’s dance team Gema Warisan Budaya presented traditional Malaysian dances. While the Korea dances were graceful, steeped with traditional meaning and even romantic the Malaysian performances were upbeat but equally graceful.

According to Liang of The Brain Truster the purpose of organizing the event was to create awareness for cultural heritage preservation to which there was an abundance of culture and art that night.

Korean artist Josh Kim with some of his work.

At the foyer of the Town Hall where the event was held was an art exhibition featuring works by Korean artist Josh Kim Tae Hoo.

An abundance of culture and art in one night. Top left photo,  local artists Kenji Wong and Khor Seow Hee.

Local well known artist Khor Seow Hee displayed his works while young local artist Kenji Wong presented his ‘installation art’ abstract creations which were quite evocative.

The finale for the night was the Malaysia Joget number where both troupes danced together for a truly “Muhibbah” experience.

A ‘Muhibbah’ finale

Beyond Ketupat and Kimchi held two performances, the first at Penang PAC. According to Lee of Prospect this cultural presentation will be an annual event and next year his goal is to have a performance for a full week.


Shade for Railway Garden


Ipoh’s City Council planted 52 trees at the garden of the Railway Station recently. Fifty of the trees are the Spring Black Olive (Bucida Molineti) while two are the Rosy Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia rosea) which blossoms during the hot weather.

Mayor Roshidi plants a tree
Mayor Roshidi plants a tree

Led by Ipoh Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim and assisted by 30 teachers and students from SMK Anglo Chinese School Ipoh, who earlier in August had etched their name in the Malaysia Book of Records when they created the largest flower formation using 31,000 plants in their Florathon project themed ‘Lets Green the Earth’. Dr D. Karthiresan, ACS’s Project Coordinator for the Florathon joined in with the students to plant trees that morning.

Students and teachers from SMK ACS assisted to plant the trees.

According to Roshidi the council initiated tree planting after receiving feedback from residents saying the area was bare. The feedback requested that trees be planted to provide shade for daytime visitors. Currently the sole large tree here is the Ipoh Tree in the centre of the garden.

The Railway Garden, located within the core of the Ipoh Old Town Heritage Trail, was recently upgraded and landscaped at a cost of RM2.3 million. It has a rhythmic water fountain and has been drawing crowds day and night since it started operations in August this year.

rail 1

The location where the trees were planted took into consideration that in future the trees would not block the view of the Heritage buildings and architectural design of the surrounding environment.

Roshidi stated that the total cost of the tree planting exercise was RM50K and the proposal was mooted a month ago.



Charity Ballet: Alice In Wonderland


A charity ballet in aid of Make-A-Wish Malaysia will be held on November 23 and 24 at Taman Budaya, Jalan Caldwell, off Jalan Raja DiHilir, Ipoh. The  performance is presented by Ipoh’s premier ballet school City Ballet in cooperation with the Lions Club of Ipoh Evergreen. This is in conjunction with City Ballet’s 30th anniversary.

Making Wishes Come True. Alice in Wonderland


Make-A-Wish Malaysia is the 35th affiliate of Make-A-Wish International, a charity which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich their human experience.

There are over 20,000 children in Malaysia with such medical conditions and since 2010 has granted 150 local wishes. It aims to grant 72 more wishes in 2014. Some of the wishes granted so far was to a 9-year-old who wanted to be a flight stewardess and was put through a training programme thanks to Malaysia Airlines.

The Characters (l-r) The Queen, Alice, Mad Hatter and White Rabbit.

The Charity Ballet anticipates to raise RM50k and the proceeds from the charity will benefit Perakean children who are in need of that little hope, strength and joy in their lives.

At a press conference to announce the charity event media personnel met with the cast of Alice in Wonderland who included Alice, played by Carmen Pang, the Mad Hatter played by Charles Pooley and the Queen, Jaime Chang. Later the cast in full costume distributed pamphlets at the Polo Ground.


Admission to the ballet is by donations of RM150, RM100 and RM60 with discounts for students and senior citizens. For further info please contact Witzi Leong at 012 508 8818 or City Ballet at 05 253 7114.


Chinese Opera – Rising like the Phoenix


Chinese Opera in the Kinta valley is rising like the proverbial Phoenix from its ashes (an expression from Greek mythology, of a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn from the ashes of its predecessor).

The main roles were played by Sung Hung Poh and Ko Lai from Hong Kong

This was the conclusion Ipoh Echo came to  based on the recent Operatic event held at the 118-year-old Kuan Ti temple at Batu Gajah in August this year. The Opera ran for twenty days and it had a good turnout every night. What was interesting was the increase in the number of  younger attendees, which had hitherto attracted a primarily older audience with  the majority being women.

Younger Audience, Younger Performers

My first encounter with Chinese Opera was four years ago when I was invited to Papan to view the Opera there. Not having a clue about Chinese Opera I went along. What attracted me then was the rich make-up and the kaleidoscopic costumes of the actors and actresses. It was a small stage in a small town  with a rich cultural history and for the two nights which I attended, the audience was less than a full house.

Refreshments outside the gate of Kuan Ti Temple Batu Gajah

However the scenario at  Batu Gajah was different. There was a buzz of anticipation. Up front red plastic chairs and wooden benches were lined up before the stage. The Opera normally starts around 7.30pm to 8pm and lasts till 11pm. As is usual, the organizers had allowed hawkers to sell food and drinks around the periphery for the audience who would patronize them in between acts.

Back stage was a hive of activity. In between acts actors would change costumes, touch up their make-up and reread their scripts all the while being assisted by their helpers. Everyone went about their duties knowing what was up next.

The scripts are all based on traditional stories handed down through centuries and each night was a different script. The actors may have done the script before but before each act they would be seen rehearsing their lines again.

Backstage actors reread their scripts before the next act.

Chinese Opera comes in many forms and each is notable for its own unique style. Whilst many foreigners sometimes joke that it sounds like someone strangling a cat, this is most unfair as it is a highly developed art form that many simply do not understand. It is known as ‘opera’ to emphasise this point.

Intrigued by the better audience at the Batu Gajah opera, I returned a subsequent evening early around 5.30pm. I was told to come at this time because after their dinner the actors would begin preparing for the show which would at start at 8pm.

Opera Company

The Batu Gajah event was organised by Pusat Drama Chinese Opera Cheng Yi or the Cheng Yi Chinese Opera and Drama Centre. Established two years ago by Ms Peggy Choy Poh Peng who comes from a background in Chinese Opera. Her father was a Chinese Opera musician while her mother helped to dress the actresses. During this particular event in Batu Gajah, I was delighted to see that  Choy’s father  was still playing the erhu with the rest of the orchestra.

Choy herself learned to perform Chinese Opera and was active until she stopped over 15 years ago due to family commitments. Although she had stopped performing she still followed the performances although she felt that they lacked polish and she was generally not satisfied with what she saw.

Actors and musicians at the Opera

Four years ago she decided to return to performing and subsequently started her own drama company as she felt that she could do better and could contribute to improve the Chinese opera culture.

Choy loved the Opera and starting her own company gave her the opportunity to allow her to promote Opera by doing it her own way. Cantonese opera perform more freely than Peking Operas and in Cantonese operas, actors are allowed to improvise.

Music, singing, martial arts, acrobatics and acting are all featured in Cantonese opera. Most of the plots are based on Chinese history and famous Chinese classics and myths. Also, the culture and philosophies of the Chinese people can be seen in the plays. Virtues (like loyalty, love, patriotism and faithfulness) are often reflected by the operas. Thus Choy had free reign to adapt and improvise.

Acknowledging that the Opera needed to cultivate young talent she initially got her younger relations to participate while  ensuring that their performances did not clash with their studies. One of her nieces, Choy Tong Ling is thirteen years old. Although she likes the Opera her involvement began as  she  enjoyed helping out her Aunty and being around the family.

Left photo (r-l) Peggy Choy with young actresses Choy Tong Lim and Sum Yee

At the Batu Gajah event there were a total of four youths performing, with the youngest being Sum Yee, 10, a Standard 5 student at SJK Min Sin Ampang Ipoh. While not a relation of Choy’s, Sum Yee had shown an interest in Opera and she was promptly recruited after her  grandfather told Choy’s musician father about her . Sum Yee has now been with the centre for 2 years singing and acting  a lot, mainly playing the part of boys.

She refers to Choy as sifu (master/teacher) and for the Batu Gajah event started rehearsing for it six months earlier. For the twenty days, due to her school and tuition schedule she played extras parts but on the final night she played a main role.

The Hong Kong Factor

According to Choy the Chinese Opera circuit averages 60 to 70 shows each year. Before Batu Gajah the centre had performed for 10 days in Gopeng. Her acceptance of a ‘gig’ depended  on whether the price was right as ‘”the actors and actresses need to be paid”. As there many temples in Perak she is kept busy most of the time sometimes going as far afield as  Penang and KL. She does draw the line at performing at shopping malls though.

Main actress Ko Lai praised Peggy Choy for preserving the art.

An undisputed draw to the Opera is the participation of Hong Kong actors. One of these is actress Ms Ko Lai, who has been acting for twenty years and whom Choy calls her step sister as she used to act with her during her early days. Ko Lai only performs in Cantonese and mainly in Ipoh. Ko Lai is very popular and her fans follow her performances when she is here.

Main actor Sung Hung Poh getting ready

The event in Batu Gajah included  a total of eight actors from Hong Kong. Besides Ko Lai who played the lead female role, she brought along Sung Hung Poh, who played the male main role and up and coming young actor Alan Tam Wang Lun, 19.

Preserving Opera

It is well known that Chinese Opera is a dying act.  Ko Lai knows full well explaining that “if a trade cannot make a living it will die naturally”. However she was full of praise for Choy’s effort to preserve this art by trying to cultivate the young and organizing these events to the enjoyment of Opera enthusiasts. “With the plethora of media entertainment,  audiences have more entertainment choices. Nevertheless a good Opera will always attract an audience.”

Local Fans

Undoubtedly praise must be given to the fans. As I waited for the last show to start, I noted vans from Kampar and Tapah laden with fans and family members arriving over an hour before the start of the show.

The fans. (bottom right photo) Chan Whai Ping and Nancy Tan

Opera fans Chan Whai Ping and Nancy Tan must be voted the heroines for driving from Teluk Intan nightly to catch the show just because “this year it is very good”. When I enquired if they were worried for their safety going back after 11pm at night Tan brushed off the suggestion saying the most danger was from the cow in the middle of the road.

With ardent fans like these Choy only needs to maintain the quality of her events for it to gain popularity over time. Quite possibly by then Choy’s centre could perform at a temple in Ipoh where tourists could hop over for a few acts after dinner as one of the “things to see”.

With young talent and new focus Chinese Opera will rise like the Phoenix

Then, no longer will Chinese opera be a dying art form but like the Phoenix, it will rise from the ashes to become a sought after and much enjoyed entertainment medium.

Meantime children who are interested to act or learn music can contact Peggy Choy at 016 566 6104.

James Gough

Rebranding Clearwater Golf Resort


 Clearwater Sanctuary Golf Resort (CWS) will be undertaking a rebranding exercise 20 years after its inception.

(l-r) 3rd from left Kenny Yap followed by Gary Player.

To be undertaken by Gary Player Golf Course Design and Architecture and led by the Grand Slam winner himself, Gary Player and his team of consultants were on hand for the announcement.

CWS CEO Kenny Yap made the announcement to the media together with Player, one of the most successful international golfers who had designed over 300 golf courses since the early ‘80s. According to Yap, the resort, which started in 1992, is a 27-hole golf course and had received an award for ‘Most Scenic Golf Course’ as its fairways caress tranquil lakes of disused mining ponds and is shaded by rows of picturesque rain trees, all providing for a scenic game.

Yap said the upgrading work would start next year. He added that the resort had a natural combination of beautiful blue mountains and natural greens surrounding it and deserved an upgrade which will ultimately provide “world class services both for sports and hospitality”.

The initial priority of the rebranding will be the 18-hole golf course and subsequently will include upgrading the clubhouse, more hotel rooms than presently available and will include villas, bungalows and low-rise condominiums.

Gary Player who described the course as magnificent also “blessed the people that planted the trees”. Player said he would do a total rebuild of the course with consideration given to the members and seniors.

“At 7500 yards it will be longer than Augusta but more playable for the average member. We will use the magnificent beauty of Clearwater’s lakes and put greens and tees on the lake to make it a dream course. The challenge is playability and beauty.”

Player, who described himself as a farmer and a golfer, emphasized that ecological practices would be a priority considering Clearwater’s wetlands and biodiversity. “We respect the environment and won’t over fertilize.”

Yap would not indicate the full cost of the upgrade but said the amount of money to do the upgrade is a challenge and would update the members and golf enthusiasts on a regular basis.



Home Exposition/ Homex 2013

 Ipohites are encouraged to check out Homex 2013 which was officially launched on Friday, November 14.
Homex 2013 was officially launched by Amber Chia in red), followed by Wong (PFMDA), Dato Roshidi (in batik) and Loh (PFMDA) President.  At extreme right is Dato Gan Tak Kong FMM Chairman.
 The annual home products exhibition, organised by the Perak Furniture Makers and Dealers Association their fourth edition, will end on Sunday, November 17.
This year’s exposition has attracted some 150 exhibitors. Four hundred booths are being taken up within and without Stadium Indera Mulia, Ipoh.
Wide range of products from household items to electrical appliances.
 The items on show are the widest ever, featuring everything a home owner would want to have in his house, ranging from household items, electrical appliances, kitchen utensils and even DIY tools.
A Wedding Walk Fair is on the card to cater for couples wishing to tie the knot.
Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim, who officiated at the launch, praised the association for making the exposition an annual event.
“It had grown from strength to strength. I look forward to the day when it will be held at the upcoming Ipoh Convention Centre currently under construction next to MBI’s office,” he exclaimed.
Visitors to the four-day event stand a chance of winning goodies daily during lucky draws. The grand prize awaiting the lucky winner is a Perodua Viva.