Representatives from 43 charity and non-governmental organisations received cheques from the Perak Turf Club following the completion of the Coronation Cup Race on Sunday, November 24, the fourth day of the Ipoh meet.
Amounting to a total of RM197,000, the biggest beneficiary was Persatuan Pemulihan Sultan Azlan Shah with RM10,000. Others included Perak Society for the Promotion of Mental Health, Noah’s Ark and Vision Home. The donations were part of the Club’s tradition of reaching out to the poor and the needy in Perak.
Besides financially assisting charitable and non-governmental organisations in Perak, the Club also responds to disasters at home and abroad. It too lends a helping hand to deserving individuals who walk or write in to the Club.
The Coronation Cup Race was passionately cheered on by hundreds of avid horse-racing fans. It was won by horse No. 7, Taichi Master, ridden by Jose de Souza and trained by Richard Victor Lines. Taichi Master is owned by Tivic Stable.
The Coronation Cup is the most prestigious annual classic race for Class 1 Malaysian thoroughbreds. It carries the Club’s largest purse of RM700,000 along with a golden challenge trophy.
Run over a long course of 1600 metres, it is open to horses aged three and older. The race was inaugurated in 1985 to commemorate the installation of HRH Sultan Azlan Shah as the Sultan of Perak.
Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about Thyroid Eye Disease.
The Thyroid gland is an organ that is found in the front of the neck. Thyroid hormones are released by the thyroid gland into the bloodstream as “chemical messengers” which are essential for managing the metabolism in our bodies. As with most organs in the body, when the thyroid gland functions well, it goes unnoticed but when it starts producing too much or too little hormones, it causes a lot of problems to the body. The eyes get affected when the gland becomes hyperactive. When this happens, it is termed as either Thyroid Eye Disease or Thyroid Orbitopathy, Graves’ Ophthalmopathy, Ophthalmic Graves’ Disease or Thyroid Ophthalmopathy.
Who Gets Thyroid Eye Disease?
Thankfully this is not a very common condition. In every 100,000 people, approximately 15 women and 3 men are affected by Thyroid Eye Disease. Most of the time it affects the middle age group. There is a genetic link, making those in some families to be more predisposed to suffering from Thyroid Eye Disease.
What Happens To The Eyes In Thyroid Disease?
In Thyroid Eye Disease, the eye muscles and fat that surrounds the eyeball gets inflamed (swollen). The two eyeballs may or may not be affected equally, giving rise to the following symptoms in the eyes:
Eyes protrude or bulge out of its sockets – an appearance that the person is staring! Thyroid Eye disease is the most common cause of protruding eyes (proptosis).
More of the cornea (transparent part of the eye) and the conjunctiva (white of the eye) get exposed because the eyelids may not fully close over the eyes well enough (eyelid retraction).
The eyes may ache, with intermittent sharp pain when the cornea dries out especially when the person is concentrating on something for long as in reading.
Some people get diplopia (double vision) because the eye muscles are unable to move properly due to the swelling of the eye muscles.
Blurring vision in some patients.
This may happen along with other features such as irritability or nervousness (mood disturbances), preference for cold environments, increased sweating, insomnia (sleeping difficulty), palpitations (a rapid heartbeat), tremor of the hands, weight loss, frequent bowel movements, unexplained fatigue or weakness of muscle, difficulty in conception and irregular menstruation.
How Is It Diagnosed?
If a doctor suspects that you may be having Thyroid Eye Disease, the following tests are usually done:
Thyroid Function Test (blood test): This will measure hormone levels in your body which includes TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), T4 which is the principal thyroid hormone and another thyroid hormone T3, plus Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulin Test (TSI). The other blood test that may be done is the RAIU test (Radioactive Iodine Uptake) – which helps to evaluate the Thyroid gland and to find out the cause of increased production of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism).
Thyroid Scan – to determine the shape and size of the thyroid gland and to pick up any thyroid nodules that may be benign or cancerous.
MRI Scan of the Orbits – to determine the amount of proptosis (bulging forward of eyes) and the amount of inflammation of the eye muscles within the eyeball sockets.
More on Thyroid Eye Disease prognosis and treatment in the next issue.
For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-545 5582) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fancy rubbing shoulders with the elite in Ipoh? Waking up to bird calls and the serenity of nature and still be at the shopping malls and supermarkets in mere minutes? Walking or jogging to the Polo Ground, going for a dip at the Royal Perak Golf Club and finishing off with a game of golf later in the day? Then, SE7EN @ Tun Dr Ismail is the residential address for you.
For those who are looking for something exclusive, SE7EN will be setting a new benchmark for luxurious living in Ipoh. With just 37 exclusive units in a low density 5-storey building on 1.55 acres of freehold land, SE7EN offers unparalleled quality living in the heart of Ipoh.
Each unit is painstakingly designed to ensure comfort and privacy. A fully-equipped designer kitchen with the assurance of German precision in their TEKA appliances, provides you with the option to cook up a storm. Other quality fittings include Daikin air-conditioners for full air-conditioned comfort, Hansgrohe bathroom fixtures and Hager light switches.
A choice of 1,400-3,500 sq. feet units all with 12-foot high ceilings await the discerning few while security keycard access and 24-hour security service will afford peace of mind to SE7EN’s residents.
While recreational facilities may appear to be limited, SE7EN offers an irresistible package that includes individual transferable membership at the Royal Perak Golf Club for every purchase of a unit. This membership not only gains you entry to one of the most prestigious golf clubs in Perak but with its international affiliations to the Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur, the Singapore Island Country Club and the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club, access to recognition and acceptance is but a flash of your card away when you travel.
With the Sultan Azlan Shah International Airport a 5-minute drive away and daily flights to Singapore offering you a world of connectivity, SE7EN is ideally situated for a quality lifestyle. And in the unfortunate event of a health emergency, private hospitals like Perak Community Specialist Hospital, KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital, Pantai Hospital Ipoh and Hospital Fatimah are mere minutes away to cater to your healthcare needs.
SE7EN is ideal for those considering settling in Malaysia under Tourism Malaysia’s Malaysia My Second Home Programme.
The one lament I have about being introduced to ‘Tai Chau’ (literally translated to mean ‘big fry’) restaurants is that the dishes in each are, as the Americans would put it…‘same old, same old’. Meaning that they all serve the same dishes and have similar items on their menus. The only variations are in the preparation styles and the skill of the ‘wok’ person in the kitchen and the flavours he/she coaxes out of the food. And that is what separates the wheat from the chafe. And what brings in the customers like myself and my foodie friends.
For eat we must and daily. And while our eager group will check out any small nook and corner with any new opening bringing one or two of our curious ones to check it out, on the whole, we end up returning to some perennial favourites or adopting some new ones that we discover. While some of these may have been operating for years, like Lo Tian Seafood Restaurant which is in the north of Ipoh close to Jelapang, serving folks from Silibin, First Garden and Taman Rishah, some others like Restoran Likarli are relatively new, catering to up-and-coming communities like the burgeoning one in Seri Botani in the south, close to the Simpang Pulai toll.
In this review, I shall cover both outlets in one go as the menu items are similar and I will highlight only those items that impressed me.
This is a two-shoplot restaurant with well spaced out tables and one side fully air conditioned. The service is brisk and friendly and they are happy to make recommendations.
One of their specialties here that they recommend to everyone is their Mun Cheong chicken, a 90-day old (most market chickens are slaughtered at around 40-45 days) bird of the Wu So Kai or ‘whiskered’ chicken variety. This is steamed and served with a ginger/scallion paste. As the chicken has had sufficient time to grow, the meat is more hearty and voluptuous without descending into stringy toughness which some old birds are prone to do. At an average size of 3kg and above, the serving is huge and it’s advisable to request for half portions if the group is smaller.
The homemade pumpkin tofu served with tung fun or bean thread noodles and garlic had a velvety texture and was scrumptious, as were the green peppers and black beans, the peppers still crisp on the bite with the black beans lending its smoky saltiness to the dish.
Venison Kway Teow or flat rice noodles was delicious, the venison well seasoned and tender, imbuing its gamey flavour to the bland white noodles and raising it to culinary heights. Similarly, the salted egg yolk added to the batter of the fried sotong or fresh squid, lifted this ubiquitous denizen of the depths to another dimension.
Lo Tian Seafood Restaurant
This is another one of my foodie friend, Ginla Chew’s peripatetic finds and considering that its so close to where I live I will be eternally grateful. Apparently, this is a coffee shop that has been open for quite some time specialising in river fish and white pomfret which is always available. As white pomfret is one of my favourite fish, I shall certainly consider making it my local ‘canteen’.
The night we went, we had the wild river fish head which came in a claypot and was absolutely mouth-watering fresh and certainly a dish I would recommend. Next came the soft shell crabs fried with salted egg yolk-crispy and umami morsels that just melt in the mouth.
The Dong Por Yoke or pork belly braised in dark soya sauce was wobblingly delectable albeit a tad too sweet for my palate. However, the next dish of Ikan Bilis Szechuan style made up for it with its sizzling spiciness tempered by the tofu cubes, long beans and onions.
The Salt Baked Kampung Chicken was average with the smokiness overpowering the subtle flavouring but the wonton noodles fried with chunks of roasted pork was tasty and excellent value at RM10. As was the Tom Yam Fried Rice. For a finishing touch we had fried Umeji mushrooms and pea pods or ‘mange tout’ embellished with crispy bits of dried sotong or squid. One dish that we didn’t get to try was their Hot Plate Har Gao or dumplings on a hot plate which I promised to return to sample on another day.
All in all, Lo Tian with its very friendly lady proprietor Choong Poh Foong, is one place I shall frequent.
Restoran Likarli 44 Jalan Lapangan Siber 10, Bandar Cyber, 31350 Ipoh.
Tel: 016 529 0298
Business Hours: noon-2.30pm; 5.30-10.30pm
GPS: N 04° 32.528’ E 101° 06.543’
Restoran Lo Tian Seafood Restaurant 11, Jalan Raja Perempuan Mazwin, Taman Rishah, 30100 Ipoh.
Tel: 05 528 3575
Madam Choong: 012 556 6557
Business Hours: 5pm-midnight
Closed every fortnight Wednesdays
GPS: N 04° 36.6’ E 101° 03.32’
Formerly named Kroh (or Keroh), Pengkalan Hulu, a small town located in Perak’s northern most district of Hulu Perak, is more popularly known as the gateway to Thailand’s paradise town, Betong.
Little is known about Pengkalan Hulu’s tourist attractions. Therefore, in this issue of Perak Tourism Newsletter, we will attempt to unravel places of interest, both known and unknown, found in this quaint, hilly provincial town, which is covered in thick fog in the morning and where the air is always fresh and invigorating.
Visit Malaysia Year 2014 is soon upon us in the blink of an eye. It will be launched with a bang in Kuala Lumpur during the first week of January.
Meanwhile, we in Perak have been very busy with promoting our state and working extra hard, especially these past two months, including distributing promotional materials such as buntings and CDs to hotels and travel agents, to assist in their promotional efforts.
Not only are we trying to entice domestic travellers, we are also ‘selling’ our tourism products to the international market. In November, we participated in Travel Malaysia Exposition 2013 in Singapore and World Travel Mart 2013 in London.
In Singapore, we also took the opportunity to hold a corporate presentation. It was a platform for buyers and sellers to meet. Over 40 travel agents from Singapore and six product owners from Perak participated in this event.
While in London, we had our own booth at the Malaysia Pavilion to promote Perak. Hosted by the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism and Culture, we were quite successful in introducing Perak to travel agents from Europe. They were particularly interested in the Royal Belum.
Also, it is with pleasure to announce that our mobile application, TravelPerak, is ready for downloading at Google Play and iTunes. Yes, it is available for both Android and iOS platforms! We look forward to your feedback on ways to improve it.
We have also revamped our online presence with a new website which is accessible at www.travelperak.com, and boosted our social media presence. Connect with us on Facebook (Perak Tourism), follow us on Twitter (@PerakTourism) or contact us at our email: email@example.com.
Driving from Ipoh, take the North-South Expressway, exiting from Kuala Kangsar. From there, get on the trunk road to Gerik and continue north to Pengkalan Hulu, following the sign boards by the left side of the road. This stretch is uphill and winding all the way, as Pengkalan Hulu is some 380m (1250 ft) above sea level. So drive carefully, especially when it is raining. About 190km from Ipoh, this road trip takes approximately 3 hours.
As said, Pengkalan Hulu is a small town, encompassing only 873.70 km² of land. Despite this, there are about ten motels, hotels, rest houses and chalets for visitors to choose from. Popular among tourists is Chalet Air Panas (Hot Springs Chalet), just 2km from Betong. VIP chalets range from RM85 per night for four persons to RM162 per night for one person. Budget-friendly accommodation is also available in the form of normal chalets and dormitories.
There are two hot spring pools here. Although some claimed the water is too murky, well, that is its natural state.
For further information, contact Chalet Air Panas at:
Gua Gendang (Cave of Drums) is Pengkalan Hulu’s most unique tourist attraction.
This limestone cave is located in Kampung Tasek, some 9km from Pengkalan Hulu town. Together with Gua Itik, a smaller adjacent cave, these caves make for serious jungle trekking and cave exploration activities for hardcore outdoor buffs.
Surrounded by lush tropical forest, Gua Gendang is believed to be used as a hideout by communist terrorists during the Malayan Emergency (1948 to 1960).
Those who brave the trail down to the cave, descending some 120 steps, will be rewarded with the best that Mother Nature has to offer.
Besides the opportunity to check out the formations of amazing rock textures, stalactites and stalagmites, the roaring water cascading into the cave from the seven nearby waterfalls simultaneously beating against the interior walls of the caves is like a wondrous drum performance, hence the name of the cave. Turn off your torchlights, close your eyes and feel the beat of the drums. It is so ecstatic!
But that is certainly not all that Gua Gendang has to offer. Imagine exploring a cave that is half submerged in water, and at some points, you may even have to “commando crawl” through some of the narrower stretches inside the cave.
A good nature guide is required, and safety precautions have to be taken, because the final part of the cave requires one to dive underwater before emerging in Kedah, the neighbouring state!
An expedition to Gua Gendang, first by a four-wheel drive vehicle, then jungle trekking, followed by cave exploration, is definitely not for the faint-hearted. But for those who seek challenges and thrills of this nature, Gua Gendang is the ultimate destination in Pengkalan Hulu.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 38.736’ E100° 57.793’
This still unexplored Gua Khalid near the development of PPMS Tanah Hitam, is also known locally as Gua Komunis because, like Gua Gendang, it is believed that the communist terrorists used the cave as their hideout during the Malayan Emergency years, 1965 to be precise, based on what had been written on the wall.
This cave, located some 10 minutes’ drive off the main Gerik – Klian Intan Road, is accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicle. Another 10 minutes of trekking over a treacherous trail is required before one reaches the cave.
Although some adventurous locals like to come by for a picnic, the exploration of this cave is more suited for those who wish to research on the Emergency period. There are many Mandarin texts found written on the cave walls. But Mandarin-speaking locals have not been able to decipher the real messages behind the writings.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 36.985’ E101° 01.283’
Oldest & largest open-cast tin mine
Visitors to Pengkalan Hulu should not pass up the opportunity to visit the oldest and largest active open-cast tin mine in Malaysia, operated by Rahman Hydraulic Tin Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Smelting Corporation Bhd.
The tin mine, situated in Klian Intan and encompassing a land area of 700 hectares, was started in 1907 by the British. It now has a staff strength of 700 people, producing 250 metric tons of tin ore per month.
More of an educational tour, visitors are first taken to the viewing deck for an overview of the mine pit. With Gunung Paku in the background, it is most scenic, especially in the morning before the thick mist clears.
Besides checking out the different stages of the mining process, the guided tour includes a stop at the plant nursery and fish pond, a major greening and land rehabilitation effort with assistance from the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM).
Although the tin mine is open to visitors since 2006, only group visits are encouraged, with a minimum of 15 to a maximum of 30 persons per group. Prior permission has to be obtained from the management of Rahman Hydraulic Tin.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 37.861’ E101° 01.818
Pong Dam & Hydro Power Station
Not much is known about both the Pong Dam and Pong Mini Hydro Power Station, except that they were built by the British circa 1924. The power station is some 40 minutes by 4WD from the Gerik – Klian Intan road, first passing through the Kg. Bukit Asu aboriginal village, before reaching Kg. Pong, a Siamese village. The dam is a further ten minutes’ drive away.
Today, both are properties of Rahman Hydraulic Tin. The dam was an ex-mining pond and it supplies water to the power station, which generates 11,000 kilowatts of power per day to the company’s tin mining operations in nearby Klian Intan.
GPS Coordinates (Pong Dam): N 05° 31.477’ E100° 59.195’
GPS Coordinates (Pong Hydro Power Station): N 05° 31.648’ E100° 59.709’
S.J.K. (C) Kung Li
By itself, this Chinese primary school in Klian Intan is like any other school in a small provincial town. However, it is in the spotlight because it was built at the site that was used by the Japanese Imperial Army to teach Japanese language during the Japanese Occupation. Although the original wooden building had long been replaced by a concrete block, it is believed that the stairs with 288 steps that connect Jalan Besar to the school at the top of the hill are still the original ones constructed by the Japanese.
S.J.K. (C) Kung Li has a student enrolment of less than 40. It is open from 7am to 2pm from Mondays to Fridays only.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 38.035’ E101° 01.219’
Bowling is a popular indoor sport here. The 12-lane Pengkalan Hulu Superbowl charges a flat rate of RM3 per game. So, it is not surprising to see families and groups of friends converging at the arena every evening.
Opened since July 2011, the arena has just kicked off the Pengkalan Hulu Superbowl Cup, a challenge trophy with a cash prize of RM200 for the winning team. Weekly mini tournaments are also held, where cash prizes of RM150 are up for grabs.
Rental of bowling shoes is RM1, while socks are RM2 a pair.
2pm – 12 midnight (Monday – Thursday)
3pm – 12 midnight (Friday)
12 noon – 12 midnight (Saturday / Sunday / public holidays)
Add: Dewan Sultan Idris Shah II, 33100 Pengkalan Hulu, Perak.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 42.170’ E100° 59.858’
The 9-hole Kelab Golf Pengkalan Hulu was opened to the public in the 1990s. It was formerly an airstrip used to resupply troops in the forward bases during the Emergency years.
Membership fee is RM2,000 for the public and RM1,500 for civil servants. Non-members are charged RM30 green fee a day. Current membership stands at some 100, from Perak, neighbouring states and even Thailand.
Said to be one of the more challenging golf links in Perak, the club hosts about four major golf tournaments annually. They are Piala OBJ Perak in May, Piala Presiden, Piala YDP and Club Championship in December.
The only golf club in the district of Hulu Perak, it has recently expanded to offer accommodation under the name of the Good View Motel. With 19 rooms, the motel can accommodate up to 40 guests at a time. Room rates start from RM70+ per night.
Add: Jalan Pejabat, 33100 Pengkalan Hulu, Perak.
Golfing hours: 8am – 3.30pm
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 42.166’ E100° 59.704’
Dataran Gading/Tasek Takong
A long time ago, when Pengkalan Hulu was ruled by Raja of Reman, a small pond was built to enable his elephants to bathe. The water was always murky, which was how the town got its name, Kroh.
This pond has since been developed into Tasek Takong, with a square at the entrance of the lake named Dataran Gading (Ivory Square).
This recreational park is well-utilised by the locals, especially in the evenings and on weekends. It is also the venue for the annual fishing and decorative raft competitions.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 42.166’ E100° 59.704’
A popular eatery among the locals is a floating restaurant by the name of Restoran Terapong, just by the bank of Tasek Takong. Open from 4pm to 1am daily except Wednesdays, it serves a wide variety of local, Thai and western food. The dish to try here is the Thai-style seafood tom-yam.
Add: Jalan Padang, Taman Tasek Takong, 33100 Pengkalan Hulu.
Tel: +6019-5920732 (Razman)
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 42.174’ E100° 59.775’
Restoran Terapung No. 2
Just a short distance away from Restoran Terapung, near Kelab Golf Pengkalan Hulu, is Restoran Terapung No. 2. Despite its name, these two restaurants are run by different owners.
Open from 10am to 2am daily except Saturdays, the signature dish here is “nasi goreng terapung” (floating fried rice).
Add: Jalan Tasek, 33100 Pengkalan Hulu.
Tel: +6019-5654539 (Akib)
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 42.044’ E100° 59.744’
Those interested to visit the attractions highlighted in Pengkalan Hulu, but do not fancy the hassle of arranging their own trip, may contact En. Haniff Faiz bin Misnan from the Pengkalan Hulu District Council (Tourism Unit). His mobile number: +6017-846 5346.
Do Malaysians really care about dirty restaurants or are they more interested in the taste of the food? We complain about dirty restaurants but some of us continue to patronise these places. Perhaps, Malaysians don’t care about hygiene as long as they can eat the food they are used to.
If you sit beside the smelly monsoon drain, which is blocked with rubbish, you don’t think about the drain and your proximity to it. You just want to be served quickly and savour the food.
The dirty rag which the waiter used to wipe a mess on the floor is then used to clean the table, and you think nothing of resting your hands and cutlery on the table. Very few of us request fresh cutlery, if the one we were given are encrusted with bits of hardened food. Others who find lipstick stains on the rim of the glass simply turn it around 180 degrees.
Diners who see a fly hovering over food, may find on closer scrutiny, that the fly has laid eggs – tiny clusters of pearly white lozenges, almost invisible to the naked eye. Have you ever wondered how many times the garnish adorning a dish has been used? You might wonder if the bread has been on parade in the bread basket.
I have seen rats scurrying up the curtain in a restaurant in Ipoh, but the patrons merely laughed at the “playful” rats, and carried on eating. Produce, like vegetables, is stored on the wet floor, next to the toilets but you shrug your shoulders and wait patiently for your meal. We have seen some hawker stalls in which dishwashing involves dunking dishes into a bowl of murky water, before being stacked up for re-use.
If the parts of a restaurant that you can see are dirty, what about the bits you cannot see? As a rough guide to the standards of hygiene, try and check the toilets. If the customer toilets are dirty, just imagine what the kitchens are like, where only members of staff are allowed.
Are government statistics available which tell us how many people fall ill through food poisoning every year, and in which establishments – school or staff canteens, stalls, restaurants or takeaways? How many people were admitted to hospital and how many died?
Out of all the cases of food poisoning, how many people actually file an official complaint? What was the outcome of the complaint? Is an apology sufficient? Should one be paid compensation as well? When does the Health Ministry get involved? Do the health inspectors ever perform surprise checks?
Does the Health Ministry inspect the premises following a complaint and verify that the restaurant kitchen is unhygienic, as was claimed? We know that bacteria are dangerous, but vindictive and spiteful people can spread rumours that are just as poisonous.
On 15 November, Ipohites were shocked to learn that their popular nasi kandar restaurant, Perniagaan Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah, on Jalan Yang Kalsom, famed for its “Nasi Ganja” had its operating licence revoked by the Ipoh City Council.
According to Mayor Roshidi Hashim, the joint raid was “part of a scheduled raid” and the operator “had scored insufficient points” and had been ordered to close for 14 days, by the health authorities. The raid was done at 5pm on Thursday November 14 and the order to shut immediately was issued then.
The allegations which prompted the closure were stated on Facebook by a woman, who called herself Ze Aida. She blogged that a nasi kandar outlet had put faeces in the food.
On Friday November 15, an outraged manager of Perniagaan Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah, Mohd Nihmathullah Syed Mustaffa, convened a press conference and denied the allegations of faeces in the food. His business has been operating since 1955 and he challenged the media and the woman who started the furore to provide evidence instead of making defamatory remarks.
By Saturday November 16, Ze Aida had retracted her allegation and issued a public apology. The authorities had also inspected the premises and had no objections to the store re-opening. On Monday, November 17, the restaurant was back in business to the delight of its customers, who said that they had not believed the allegations.
Why did Ze Aida start malicious rumours and begin three days of hell, for the ‘nasi ganja’ owner?
The manager, Mohd Nihmathullah should demand compensation from the authorities for acting in an unprofessional manner. Ze Aida’s allegation almost ruined his business and the livelihoods of the people he employs. The Health Ministry must learn to investigate allegations and not make knee-jerk reactions.
The annual Coronation Gala Dinner, one of the most glittering and glamorous functions organised by the Perak Turf Club (PTC) in conjunction with the Coronation Cup race meeting, was held at the Grand Ballroom of Syuen Hotel on Friday, November 22.
It was held in honour of HRH Sultan Azlan Shah, on the occasion of the 28th anniversary celebration of his installation as the Sultan of Perak.
Some one thousand invited guests, from the diplomatic service, high court judges, heads of government departments, business entrepreneurs, and those from the racing fraternity, such as officials, owners and jockeys from Malaysia and abroad attended the dinner.
Chairman of Perak Turf Club, Tan Sri V. Jeyaratnam, in his speech, reminded guests of the Club’s tradition of donating for the betterment of the needy and the impoverished in Perak. “We’re quick to respond to national and world disasters and will donate generously as it’s part of our corporate social responsibility.”
Guests were entertained by a series of performances during the dinner. Wowing them were Malaysia’s very own Anita Mui who belted out popular Cantonese numbers from the 1980s, Bollywood talents Mast Millennium Dancers and top amateur Latin dance couple from Russia, Alexander Andreichev and Kristina Nikitorova, who kept the audience spell-bound.
The availability of natural gas supply has been a hot topic in the Kinta Valley recently. The issue was raised twice in the past two months, the first in September at the FMM’ (Federation of Malaysia Manufacturers) dinner while the Malaysian International Chambers for Commerce and Industry (MICCI), highlighted the same topic at its luncheon a month later. On both occasions, Dato’ Mohamed Zahir Abdul Khalid, State Exco for Investment, Industry and Corridor Development, represented MB Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir during which he described the natural gas supply issue as a “perennial topic” but reassured that the state government was committed to making the “project a reality”.
“Natural Gas Supply to Kinta valley will be my KPI” – Zahir
Ipoh Echo met with Zahir a few weeks later to follow up on the subject. He intimated that the state government had already met the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohammed and Second Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadziah. Both had agreed in principle to provide the “shortfall fund” of RM40.9 million.
His subsequent meeting with the Minister at the Economic Planning Units, Datuk Seri Wahid Omar revealed that EPU similarly supported the proposal and indicated that the state could use the federal government’s ‘facilitation fund’ to get the project started. However, no indicator was given when the fund would be released. Nevertheless, Zahir acknowledged that natural gas was a positive factor for the state. He would lobby for the funding and had now made this topic his personal ‘Key Performance Index’ (KPI).
According to FMM Perak Chairman, Dato’ Gan Tak Kong, of all the energy sources available, natural gas is the most cost-effective energy for industries. He added that although gas prices are reviewed every quarter, the switch to gas would provide savings to companies.
The request for natural gas was first made by Gan to the State Government and Gas Malaysia in 2004. The initial proposal envisioned a 150km pipeline stretching from Ayer Tawar to Chemor, estimated to cost RM160 million. The proposal would have been realized in 2006 but due to the shortage of natural gas, Gas Malaysia Berhad was forced to shelve the project.
The scenario changed with the establishment of Petronas Receiving Terminals at Malacca and Pengerang, enabling natural gas to be imported and supplied to more industries throughout the country. Since 2012 , FMM together with the State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) have held discussions with the Energy Commission and Gas Malaysia Berhad to make the Kinta Natural Distribution System a viable project.
The outcome of the discussion was to implement the project in two phases. Phase one of the pipeline will be from Ayer Tawar to Lahat, a distance of 85.822km costing RM102 million and benefiting 16 companies. The project duration is 24 months and a savings of RM40 million could be realized over a period of 3.5 years.
The capital contribution required for phase 1 is RM96 million which will be provided by Gas Malaysia Berhad and the industries. However, there is a shortfall of RM40.9 million from the contribution and this is where the government has been requested to assist.
The second phase of the project will continue from Lahat to Chemor where 35 customers have been identified.
Gas, Investors and Reinvestments
Should the supply of natural gas become a reality in Kinta Valley, potential investors will be attracted while existing industries will want to reinvest to expand their production lines.
Gan gave the example of Kamunting and Kamunting Raya Industrial Estate in Taiping where natural gas is available. Toyo Tyres has invested RM800 million while two glove manufacturers have pledged to invest RM1 billion to expand their existing production lines and possibly creating employment for 3000 local workers.
Similarly, in the Lahat area a multinational company has plans to reinvest RM50 million “if” natural gas is made available, while a glove manufacturer indicated it might want to revive its production operations.
Nihon Canpack Berhad provides services to canned-beverage drinks. Based in Bemban Industrial Estate, it has been requesting for natural gas since 2004. Its factory manager, En Rosdy Abdullah is full of support for natural gas supply providing multiple reasons of its benefit. “Converting the plant machinery to natural gas is a one-time cost factor which can be recovered in a short time,” he told Ipoh Echo. The factory started with 60 workers and one production line. It currently has two production lines and 200 workers. Rosdy forecasts that the savings derived from the conversion to gas will enable the factory to move into automation.
The reason for automation is due to the difficulty in getting labour. Skilled labour is difficult to get while unskilled labour, though available, is mobile and uncertain. The minimum wage while benefitting the worker does not correspond to improved productivity. Hence the introduction of natural gas provides industries more options to improve productivity, create a better working environment and hopefully, will attract workers.
And by extension, the Bemban Industrial Estate will attract more factories and create more job opportunities.
Revival of Industrial Estates
According to Gan, Perak has several industrial estates that are underutilised. He highlighted the Sri Iskandar High-Tech Park and the Pharmaceutical Park both at Sri Iskandar as well as the Ceramic Park at Chemor which was created around the availability of natural gas supply.
“These industrial parks are good for the state but they require gas to be cost competitive,” he reasoned. “Investors are on the look-out for locations with cheap energy source. If they do come one can expect the Kinta Valley to grow and be vibrant,” he added.
Critical Mass and Catalyst
One individual who has experienced the benefits of switching to natural gas is David Ho, Managing Director of Hovid. Two years ago Ho converted to natural gas at his factory, Carotech at Kampong Acheh, Lumut and realized a savings of over 50 per cent from his energy bill.
Ho described gas as “a basic necessity and part of the infrastructure for the state. Manufacturers who use a lot of energy can have big savings and this is an attraction”. Speaking with much passion, Ho explained that providing gas will bring economic growth to the ‘corridor from Ayer Tawar to Chemor’.
Prolonged economic growth especially in the Kinta Valley will create a critical mass that will create jobs and employment and become a catalyst to attract Investors and workers to the state. Every state needs a catalyst and the Kinta Valley can be to Perak what Klang Valley is to Selangor or Sri Iskandar to Johore.
“The growth of the Kinta valley will affect the whole of Perak. The longer we delay the introduction of gas, the more Ipoh will lose out from investment,” added Ho.
Overwhelming Support for Gas Supply
All those interviewed had positive support for gas supply except possibly for glove manufacturer MAPA located at Meru Industrial Estate. Its General Manager Lim Kim Hock’s only lament was that he would have to wait for Phase 2 before he got his supply and he had been “kept waiting for many years”. A check with a spokesman from UPEN also indicated a positive response describing “if the gas supply is firm it would leapfrog industrial development in the state”.
The overwhelming positive response was not just for its cost savings. Rosdy Abdullah stated that natural gas was clean and green and would reduce his maintenance time. As for Ho, he elaborated that once the gas pipeline was completed, the next beneficiaries would be the consumers and identified the hotels and shopping malls that used a lot of air-conditioning.
It is becoming apparent that the implementation of natural gas is an option we cannot ignore any longer. Gas is certainly an attraction for industry to invest and expand in Ipoh which would create better job opportunities. This in turn would encourage our children to come home to work and play and in doing so create that critical mass needed as the catalyst for more growth.
That being the case, delaying the introduction of natural gas will not be to our advantage.
The National Horse Show (NHS) is in town again this month and will be held on the grounds of the Perak Turf Club Equestrian Centre at Jalan Kelab Golf, Ipoh adjacent to the Perak Turf Club from December 5 to 8. +
The four-day NHS event of equestrian sports will feature sports and farrier (person who shoes horses) competitions, exhibitions, carriage and pony rides as well as various fun programmes and activities for children. A trade expo (with individual booths) and local hawker food fair will also be available.
The main activity throughout the four-day event will be the equestrian sports competitions. These include show jumping, dressage (where the horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements) and derby events such as the cross country where participants will lead their horse through an obstacle course which includes water features.
According to Perak Turf Club General Manager Soo Lai Kwok, equestrian sports is a recognized Olympic event. As such this NHS is a government-sponsored event funded by the Totalisator Board of Malaysia and the Ministry of Finance.
The annual National Horse Show is organised in turn by the Turf Clubs of Penang, Selangor and Perak to encourage young Malaysians to participate in equestrian sports.
It is the biggest equestrian event on the equestrian sports calendar and draws competitors from all over Malaysia and abroad. The Singapore Turf Club and Bukit Kiara Equestrian Resort are participants in this year’s event. A total of 200 participants including officials will be participating this year.
Besides the pony and carriage rides, one of the fun activities this year will be the Man vs Horse Race. It is a 100-metre dash with the man given a handicap of 30 metres in front of the horse. According to Soo, there will be athlete sprinters taking part and should be a hilarious spectacle.
Another interesting equestrian activity this year is the rides for the disabled. Special saddles and harnesses will allow the disabled to sit atop a big horse which will provide a sense of achievement and confidence and be one of the main highlights for them.
The event will start on Thursday December 5 with the competitions. The official opening will be on Friday 6 December at 9.30am. Being the school holidays the weekends are anticipated to be busy. Entrance to the show and parking is all free, hence Ipohites are encouraged to visit the activities.