Category Archives: Buildings

Celebrating Perak’s Built Heritage

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The Perak Heritage Society recently launched an exhibition and book launch entitled “A Celebration of Perak’s Built Heritage” which showcased the joint works by the Architectural Faculties from the National University of Singapore and University Malaya.

Shop owner Kamalar pointing to a model of her home the Singhalese Bar

Shop owner Ms Kamala pointing to the model of her home, the Singhalese Bar

The joint NUS-UM studio projects which took place in 2010 covered Taiping while the 2012 study covered Ipoh, Old and New town.

At these study projects, students took measured drawings of the buildings at the site locations which allowed them to be exposed to the methodologies of historical documentation and analyses of the places and buildings.

Detailed models and measured drawings

Detailed models and measured drawings

The findings of their studies are now on exhibition and are being displayed in images of the town, plans and drawings as well as architectural models of selected shop houses.

The study has also been compiled into two books for Taiping (Returning Taiping) and Ipoh (Familiar Spaces Untold Stories) respectively and which are being sold at the exhibition. During the launch copies of the book were presented to the shop house owners where the students did their analyses.

Architects (l-r) Lim and Yeh 'a good understanding for our heritage architecture'

Architects (l-r) Lim and Yeh ‘a good understanding for our heritage architecture’

Present at the exhibition was Ipoh born architect Ken Yeh. Yeh who has his office in Australia described the publications as “a good reference and understanding of how our forefathers built our town which creates the sense of appreciation for our heritage architecture.” Fellow architect Lim Take Bane concurred and added that “we should always respect our elders”.

The team from University Malaya and National University of Singapore

The team from University Malaya and National University of Singapore

The UM-NUS Joint Studio Programme Exhibition is being held at the Lim Ko Pi Gallery, upstairs of Lim Ko Pi restaurant on Hugh Low Street from February 26 to March 10 from 12.30pm to 4.30pm daily, closed on Mondays.

JAG

Subverting Public’s Trust

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

art deco building

Majestic Theatre

Finger pointing comes easy when the blame game comes into play. It is definitely chic to point the other way when all fingers are pointed at you. Blaming someone else for a mistake is not something new. In fact, it is a time-honoured habit which we picked up when we were young. No one worth his salt can deny this. We are all guilty of being an accomplice in the complicity.

It may not mean much if the outcome merely affects one victim, as there is recourse for a redress. However, if it affects the community as a whole, then there is reason for a re-look at policies implemented.

The last couple of weeks have witnessed some very interesting developments taking place in the city. Foremost, is the unwarranted destruction of a declared heritage site, the iconic Majestic Theatre, once an important landmark in Ipoh. Crafted by renowned Danish architect, B.M. Iversen the building was pulverised for no rhyme or reason other than to make way for a building project.

The insensitivity of some is puzzling, to say the least. Don’t they consider heritage the same way they keep their bank account balanced? Or do pecuniary rewards far outstrip aesthetic values? These people do not have an iota of conscience left, otherwise they would not have done something so despicable.

That is on the part of the new owners. To them owning a piece of real estate means they are at liberty to do whatever they please. What is more disturbing is the reaction of the authority, in this case, Ipoh City Council. A local council that prides itself in acquiring ISO standards should not be so callous as to allow a private entity to do whatever its heart desires. It is tantamount to subverting the public’s trust in the council. Must it be construed as such?

Last week one lingering problem was resolved with the timely intervention of a senior politician. Flash flooding in Taman Lapangan Ria is pervasive and has become a bane with residents of the housing estate. The problem was  introduced by an irresponsible developer who decided to jump-start his project without considering the well being of the nearby residents. His poorly designed retaining wall, ill-conceived drainage system and misplaced sewage pond caused havoc to the Taman Lapangan Ria residents.

When the residents’ complaints fell on deaf ears they decided to take it to the state government. That was their final salvation. Senior Executive Councillor, Dato’ Hamidah Osman was all ears and through her efforts the problem was amicably resolved. Does it need someone high up to intervene when it could be settled with a little imagination?

A close friend who bought a terrace house in Taman Botani had to wait nearly a year for his renovation plan to be approved by Ipoh City Council. In the process, he was called up a number of times to explain certain inconsistencies in the architectural plan. He could not get an answer from the officer of the housing department why his simple renovation plan was withheld when those who openly flout the council by-laws were left unmolested. The numerous illegal renovation works in Canning Garden is a case in point. Ah Foo, the contractor he engaged to redo his house was unfazed by the whole episode. He said nonchalantly, “Bos, tak payah plan, MBI boleh kautim” (Boss, no need for plan, MBI can fix it.)

Is this apathy or a case of selective persecution by the local council? We can say so of our Judiciary, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Police and lately JAWI (Federal Territory Islamic Department) but Ipoh City Council? Hello, Ipohites need your help, as our money is keeping you afloat! Has the council taken the path of no return?  Heaven forbid if it does.


Developer Ignored MBI Stop-Work Order

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(Top) June 19: MBI issues stop-work order (Bottom) June 21: Front building demolished; safety barrier still not erected

The developer demolishing the Majestic Theatre has blatantly ignored MBI’s stop-work order issued on June 19 and proceeded to continue demolishing work.

On June 18 Ipoh Echo had received complaints that demolition of the Majestic Theatre was ongoing without the safety requirements such as boarding up the work area. Another requirement to display the project notice board indicating the work being done was missing.

Subsequently it was learnt that the owner had not applied for approval to demolish the theatre and a stop work order was issued to the demolition contractor on June 19.

Follow up visits to the site on 21 June revealed that work had not stopped with the left front façade now demolished. Also missing was the boarding and notice board.

The boarding for the site was seen arriving on Monday afternoon June 25. By this time the entire front façade was a heap of rubble and only the back portion was still upright.

A check with MBI’s Building Department confirmed that the owner of the premises had ignored the stop work order.

Ipoh Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim when contacted said that legal action has been initiated against the owner under the Strata, Buildings and Drainage Act 133 which carries a maximum fine of RM50,000 or 3 years jail or both.

In October 2009 a row of pre-war shop houses being demolished collapsed onto Jalan Kamaruddin Isa in Fair Park killing two men. Following that incident, for safety reasons, all demolition work plans had to be submitted to Ipoh City Council for approval before work could commence.

JAG

cover story ipoh echo issue 141 - Kong Heng

Shining Through: Ipoh’s Heritage Spirit

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By James Gough

Ipoh, the Town that Tin Built, is beginning to come alive and heritage preservation is playing a big role. Since the collapse of the tin industry in the late eighties Ipoh has slowly but surely been on a downward spiral. Many of its youth, attracted to the more progressive cities of Kuala Lumpur and Penang, have left Ipoh in a mass exodus, earning it the label of being a retirement town. Concomitantly, old buildings, some of them well worth preserving, have been left to rot and decay, some even collapsing, as in the case of Concubine Lane.

Movement at Last

Finally things are beginning to move in Ipoh. Ipohites with nostalgia, as well as property developers, are beginning to take an active interest in preserving Ipoh’s rich heritage and some of its buildings. If we drive along several roads in New and Old Town, we will notice that progress has been made in certain old shop lots which have been upgraded with their exterior façades maintained while their interior have been modernised.

Currently, we are seeing a proliferation of this ‘preservation of Ipoh’ with the ‘restoration’ of multiple units of properties which their owners say will be turned into boarding houses or boutique hotels or “restored just to keep the spirit of Ipoh alive”. A welcome spirit indeed and one which Ipoh Echo has set out to explore and document.

cover story ipoh echo issue 141 - ‘Sekeping Kong Heng’

‘Sekeping Kong Heng’

‘Sekeping Kong Heng’: A Guest House

Over at Old Town amongst the Heritage Trail lies the Dramatist Hostel, more popularly known as Kong Heng coffee shop famous for its kai see hor fun and other local food fare. The property which is bordered by Leech Street (Jalan Bandar Timah), Jalan Panglima, the adjacent lane till Belfield Street (Jalan Sultan Yussuf) was purchased by its current owners in 2008.  This is a 3-storey building where actors stayed and rehearsed and performed at the Chinese Opera Theatre next door which has since been demolished but the hostel remains.

One of its owners is renowned landscape architect Ng Sek San, an Ipoh boy, who said that “Ipoh was a good place to grow up” and felt that “it should be preserved for the next generation”. However, for Ng “restoration is not just about restoring, that would become a museum. I want something that is living. Every building has a spirit. We should visualise and build around that spirit.”

Adaptive Reuse: Building 2 stories above the old kitchen area.

Late last year Kong Heng coffee shop was closed for five days for a clean-up and that was all the attention paid to it. Not so for the hostel that Ng has transformed into a guest house – ‘Sekeping Kong Heng’ (a slice of Kong Heng).

The wood walls of the partitioned rooms on the first floor have been replaced with concrete sheets and each room has been fitted with its own bathroom. There are eight rooms on this floor.

(l-r) Ng Sek San. 2nd floor with suspended glass houses

On the second floor, the open floor now has two bathrooms plus two suspended air-conditioned glass houses above the rehearsal floor which can also be used as a function room. As Ng explained “we provide the space and allow the users creativity to take over, which should appeal to young people”.

Adaptive Reuse

While the main Kong Heng building has been restored the kitchen at the back has been maintained and made an excellent example of adaptive reuse by building another two storeys over it which adjoins it to the original building by the staircase in between.

Open-air family room. Mosquito nets provided

The first floor annexe is ‘literally’ a covered open-air family room. It can accommodate one double and four single beds. The bedroom walls are of wire mesh and the tall uncut trees keep the room cool and comes with a mosquito net.

Open-air Communal Room

The second floor annexe is an open-air communal room with tables and chairs.  The “kitchen is planned to become a café later on” while the there are no plans yet for the ‘store’ which has been cleared of its intruding roots. The space between the two buildings has been paved with cobblestone and the entire ground floor is kept cool under a canopy from the original matured trees.

From the main road, the building appears that nothing has changed other than the paved lane and newly-planted trees. But then Kong Heng coffee shop is just 25% of the total property. As for the cost, Ng says he pays more for labour than material as he uses mainly local material. Ng only uses T5 fluorescent tubes (it’s environmentally friendly) and has installed grease traps (I don’t want to pollute the Kinta River). His plan for the rest of the property is “not thought of yet”.

5-Star Boutique Hotel In New Town

Unlike Kong Heng, 63-year old Fong Soo Har, the owner of Tin City Hotel which is still under construction, has his hotel’s plans all laid out.

(l) Tin City Hotel owner Fong Soo Har..'the whole Hotel will be a tin mine story'. (r) Fong (l) on his daily round.

The hotel located on three units of shop houses along busy Brewster Road (Jalan Sultan Idris Shah) is scheduled for completion in May next year. It will be a 5-star boutique hotel, eight storeys tall and will have just 26 rooms with two being duplex penthouses on the top floor which also houses the swimming pool. The hotel will also be the first in Ipoh to have an elevated car park for 12 cars.

(l-r) Fong with architect Booth. Posing along Brewster Road (Jln Sultan Idris Shah)

Eight years ago Fong began investing in property in New Town and subsequently purchased three units along Jalan Sultan Idris Shah for the hotel and another seven units across the road. His reason for investing in Ipoh is because “I love Ipoh. KL is like New York – too busy. I grew up in Ipoh. I love it here and want to keep it looking like before.”

Fong was born and raised in Tronoh. His father owned a tin mine there but when he grew up he made furniture cabinets at Gunung Rapat and later expanded his business to a factory at Lahat.

He left for New York in the late 80s “when business was very bad” also making furniture cabinets there. After two years working with a friend he started his own business in New York.

The original building was a three-storey building with half-moon French windows for its frontal façade. Fong maintained the front façade because “that is what it looked like driving down Brewster Road”.

In order to ensure his ideas stayed focused, Fong brought in his New York architect Renny Booth whom he worked with for over 14 years.

He chose the name Tin City Hotel “because the whole hotel will be a tin mine story”.

The view from the top. Main street and roof-tops.

Fong hasn’t worked out the details for the interior yet but he plans to put a replica of a palong on the top floor complete with water flowing down to the pool area which can be seen as one drives along Jalan Sultan Idris Shah.

More Restoration in the Pipeline

Lim Ko Pi is a Kopitiam-style coffee house, located at 10‑16 Hugh Low Street (Jalan Sultan Iskandar) before the intersection with Belfield Street. It is one of two red buildings (to the right) with the yellow Oversea Building in between.

Lim Ko Pi. A kopitiam-style coffee house.

Interestingly, its owner Lim Chai Hock is a Kedah citizen who married Ipoh girl Lee Yoke Chee and with their three daughters are all interested in preserving Ipoh’s heritage.

Lim who has worked around Malaysia, currently works overseas. He compared Ipoh to China Town Kuala Terengganu “which is less than a kilometre long but has been well preserved and is a huge tourist attraction there”. Lim hopes to duplicate that model for Ipoh explaining “Ipoh is a hundred years old and spread out and preservation opportunities are everywhere.”

(l-r) 10-16 Hugh Low Street. Oversea Building (in yellow). formerly OCBC Bank being upgraded. Lim Ko Pi is on its right side.

One of the reasons he purchased 10-16 Hugh Low Street is because the Oversea Building “is a landmark in Ipoh and should be preserved”.

The 'Neo-Renaissance' SPH De Silva building being upgraded.

To cement his conviction that Heritage Tourism in Ipoh has potential, Lim has since made some very significant property purchases. Another landmark he has purchased is the 3-storey SPH De Silva building at the intersection of Belfield Street (Jalan Sultan Yussuf) and Station Road (Jalan Dato Maharajalela). This ‘Neo-Renaissance design building is one of Ipoh’s oldest commercial buildings and restoring it “contributes towards the city’s fine streetscape”.

At the intersection of Hugh Low Street and Chamberlain Road (Jalan CM Yussuf), Lim has also purchased seven shop lots which, wife Lee says, will be painted the seven colours of the rainbow. The reason for the purchase: “the buildings are still in their original condition but more importantly they all have a balcony which makes them unique”. Already two of the buildings have been painted red and yellow.

cover story ipoh echo issue 141

Two units of the planned ‘rainbow’ shop lots

Lim’s vision for his properties is to restore and preserve them. All the properties are currently being upgraded and restored. However, his plans for 10-16 Hugh Low Street is to turn it into a boutique hotel with nine rooms, function room and two diners.

The efforts of these three entrepreneurs are testimony that the spirit of Ipoh Heritage is catching on. The heritage activity that may have started at the Old Town Heritage Trails has now spread to New Town so maybe it is timely that the Kinta Heritage Group should come out with heritage maps 3 and 4 which will cover New Town.

Hopefully with the featuring of the efforts of these three entrepreneurs more individuals, and possibly corporations, will come forward to preserve Ipoh town for the next generation to be able to appreciate its past.

Old Town Heritage Trivia

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St Michael's Institution, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

St Michael's Institution, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

St Michael's Institution, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

The beginning

St Michael’s Institution (SMI), (icon 7) of the Ipoh Heritage Trail Map 1 will be celebrating its centennial (100 years) this year.

The school is the second mission school in Ipoh and started with just 37 students in a large double storey half-brick, half-wooden bungalow house in a coconut plantation.

Interestingly, due to a shortage of Christian brothers, its first Headmaster was a Sikh convert, Mr P.J. Morsingh a teacher from St Xavier’s Institution Penang.

St Michael's Institution, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

The Chapel

The design of the building is described as Neo-Gothic architecture and its facade of the present day building is 177 feet wide.

On the third floor of the building is its chapel, recently restored in 2011, whose design was inspired by the celebrated Sainte Chapelle on the Ile de la Cite in Paris. In preparation for the centennial year the school converted a classroom into a Heritage Gallery to to showcase the Lasallian and Michaelian heritage as well as capturing the rich and invaluable history of the 100-year old school.

View of Church of St John the Divine, Ipoh

Heritage Preservation: A Fine Example

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By James Gough

Restoration work on the Church of St John the Divine or more commonly referred to as St John’s Anglican Church, one of the oldest Anglican churches in Malaysia, has brought it back to its former glory. Eponymously located on St John’s Road, it is one of the buildings listed in the Heritage Trail map of Ipoh Old Town.

View of Church of St John the Divine, Ipoh

Church of St John the Divine, St John's Road, Ipoh

100 Years On, Divine Heritage Endures

Upon entering the gate of the church, one is presented with a red brick building that looks so English in design, it feels like one has stepped out of Malaysia for a minute and into a “Parish Church in the English countryside” to quote Rev. Anthony Dumper, the Vicar of South Perak, 1949.

Before St John’s was built, the Anglicans held their services at the ‘old Court House’ located close to the Birch clock tower. In the year 1905, only four services were recorded.

When St John’s Church was consecrated by Bishop Ferguson Davie on April 30, 1912, it was described as an “architecture of English design but suited to the local equatorial climate.”

Gothic Splendour

Church of St John the Divine – chancel screen and sanctuary

Chancel screen and sanctuary

The church, which has six bays, has Gothic architectural features of pointed arches and buttresses. Its outer walls are of fair-faced brickwork, that is, selected bricks used without plaster. Above its porte-cochère or porch is a bell-tower on the apex of the front gable. The bell was presented to the Church by Mr and Mrs A.C.J. Towers in 1935 which was the Silver Jubilee year of King George V.

Walking down the nave of the church, one passes the baptism font and teak pews. The nave is separated from the chancel by a chancel screen of finely carved trefoil arches.

Behind the altar, a trio of stained-glass windows, which together with the arcade of pointed arches above the clerestory, bathe the entire church in incandescent hues.

This splendour did not happen by chance.

Divine Restoration

Rev. Tom Cherian in Church of St John the Divine

2011: Rev. Tom Cherian in the restored church

According to the Church’s pastor, Rev. Tom Cherian, sometime before 2009, it was noted that the church was in dire need of repairs. The wooden ceiling was in danger of falling, due to wood rot caused by water seepage and termite infestation.

It took a small calamity in July 2009, when one of the porch trusses in front of the church fell, that they closed the church. “We were lucky that no one was hurt”, said Rev. Cherian.

Then the dilemma arose as to whether to do a quick fix or go for a proper restoration. Fortunately, proper restoration won the day.

Expert Advice

Rev. Cherian sought advice from the Perak Heritage Society (PHS) and its vice president Law Siak Hong on how to go about the restoration of the church. During that time too, an Ipoh-born architect, Ken Yeh, now practising in Australia, was home on holiday. Yeh, who admires good work and “did not want to see good work be desecrated in the name of expediency”, lent a hand.

Together, Yeh and Law advised Rev. Cherian and his committee on the steps required for restoration.

Heritage Walk visitors in the Church of St John the Divine

2010: Work in progress. Devadason with Heritage Walk visitors beside the Baptism Font

The repair work involved replacing the rafters and all the roof battens with Nyatoh wood, a time-consuming process as the wood had to be treated for a month before it could be installed. In a similar way, the trusses in the front porch were replaced. The entire ceiling, originally of Meranti, was replaced with a naturally golden dammar minyak (Malaysian kauri) wood.

Tenders were called for and RM250,000 was determined to be the cost of the repairs. This deliberation on what was to be done and the large sum quoted hindered the actual restoration work which only commenced in April of 2010 and completed in December that year.

Understandably, the congregation complained that “it had taken too long to do the repairs” but nevertheless they pulled together in their fundraising efforts and even approached the state government for assistance but none was forthcoming till this day. But ultimately the church managed to raise the funds to complete the job.

For Rev. Cherian, the repair work done on the church will see it in great shape for another 100 years. But he is also aware that regular maintenance and early detection is essential to ensuring a healthy building, indicating a cost of RM6,000 for maintenance every 2 years.

Preserving A Community

Stained-glass windows of the Church of St John the Divine

Stained-glass windows

The Rev. John Cuffe, Vicar of the Parish in 1985, in his foreword for the Church’s 75th year after the laying of the foundation stone, said that “a church building is not only bricks and mortar but over the years absorbs the prayers of the parishioners which builds up as the generations pass.”

Back then, the congregation was 90% British, with the balance made up of Ceylon Burgers and a smattering of locals. Also in the early days the first four pews from the front were ‘reserved’ for the British community which was “an unwritten rule”.

Parishioner and former choirmaster, James Nicholas Devadason, recalled his Aunt Sarah relating an incident pre-war when she arrived early for service and sat on a ‘reserved’ pew. Upon sitting down she was reminded by the warden of the ‘unwritten rule’ to which she responded by quoting St Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, chapter 3 verse 11: “here there is no Greek or Jew, slave or free but Christ is all and in all”, and didn’t shift her seat.

Rich History

Another active pre-war Parishoner, William A Sankey, 85, recalled that during the Second World War, the church was turned into a noodle factory, its pews burned for firewood, its vestry used for making soy sauce and its piped organ was looted. Miraculously the panelling and chancel screen survived the desecration.

At the end of the war soldiers from the Royal Berkshire Regiment collected the chairs from the then Majestic Hotel to be used at its first service. By 1949, with the exception of the organ, the church was fully restored.

During the time of the Emergency numerous British Regiments worshipped at the Church and during Christmas, a military parade would be held in the Church grounds before the start of service.

St John’s Church, being among the oldest Anglican Church in the country, has helped propagate the daughter churches of Church of the Holy Spirit in Buntong and St Peter’s Church in Fair Park. It is also one of 25 gazetted heritage buildings identified by Ipoh City Council and listed on the Heritage Trail Map.

By restoring the church to its original splendour the entire Ipoh community will have a reference of how the Anglican community has grown and proliferated in the state. That is heritage value by itself.

Pictures of Church of St John the Divine

Nos. 25 & 27 Panglima Lane which collapsed. On the right is Yoon Wah Restaurant

Panglima Lane is Falling Down

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Updated 14 September 2011

Last December, Ipoh Echo reported that the front upper floor and roof tiles of No. 5 Panglima (Concubine) Lane, fell to the lane below. No one was hurt although the incident occurred at 9.30 a.m. Earlier in June the back portion of an unoccupied unit collapsed.

On September 7 at 10.45 p.m., the upper walls of another two units, Nos. 25 and 27, fell to the lane below. As luck would have it again no one was hurt although No. 27 is just a unit away from Yoon Wah Restaurant which serves the popular “snow beer” every evening.

Nos. 25 & 27 Panglima Lane which collapsed. On the right is Yoon Wah Restaurant

Debris and a 'wood rot' wooden beam litter the lane.The falling debris damaged the building opposite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The falling debris from No. 27 also damaged the building immediately opposite it and the column of the adjacent building, Yoon Wah Restaurant, damaging a total of four buildings.

Senior Exco for Local Government Dato’ Dr. Mah Hang Soon chaired a meeting the next day with owners and residents of Panglima Lane. Later on the same day he announced that JKR, the State Works Department, had in its preliminary report carried out on the same day, declared “7 of 24 units” on Panglima Lane are “deemed dangerous”.

Under the Street, Drainage and Building Act, owners of the units, upon being issued a notice by Ipoh City Council, will have 14 days to repair or demolish their units, otherwise legal action will be taken on them. A detailed report is also being carried out and will be available in a month’s time.

Dato’ Hamidah talking to residents. On the right in blue shirt is Residents Committee Chairman Dr Mike Gurmil

In the meantime, the Chairman of the just-formed Panglima Lane Residents Committee, Dr ‘Mike’ Gurmil said that he would be calling a meeting with the owners and residents to determine their next course of action.

JAG

MBI acts on reader’s highlight

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MBI ACTS ON READER’S HIGHLIGHT

On 3 August Ipoh Echo received a call from a reader that a “dangerous looking building renovation” was ongoing at the junction Jalan Tawhil Azhar and Jalan Mustapha al-Bakri.

3 August. Ongoing renovation without netting or scaffolding

A drive to the location revealed that the building had its inner sections removed but left the “original walls” intact. The walls were tied with cables and secured to the inside of the buildings.

A “Temporary Work Permit” issued by MBI was displayed onsite. However there was no scaffolding or netting erected alongside the perimeter of the worksite. Additionally the notice board indicting the project details was not yet on display.

Ipoh Echo took photos of the worksite and presented them to officials of the MBI’s Building department to get their views on 5 August. No comments were forthcoming other than saying they would “look into it.”

8 August. Scaffolding, netting and fencing being erected

On Monday 8 August workmen at the worksite were seen erecting the fencing, scaffolding and netting. A call to MBI’s Buidling office revealed that a stop-work order had been issued until all safety measures were in place.

11 August.All safety requirements erected. Project notice board is displayed.

Another drive-by on Thursday 11 August revealed that all safety features were in place while the project notice board too was on display.

 

 

Ipoh Echo would like to thank “anonymous” for highlighting her concern.

jag

8

New Lifestyle Property Development

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Ipoh SOHO or Small Office Home Office, a new lifestyle property development was introduced in Ipoh on 29 July 2011 with a ground breaking ceremony.

Breaking ground. Zambry in control.

The project, IPOH SOHO, was launched by established property developer Kinta Saujana Sdn Bhd and is located at Jalan Sultan Idris Shah (Hugh Low Street) immediately after the Sultan Yussuf Circle water fountain. The ceremony was officiated by Menteri Besar Dato Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir together with Mr Chen Heng Kong, the Managing Director of Kinta Saujana

pic 1:(l-r) 2nd from left is MD for Kinta Saujana Chen Heng Kong followed by Dato Seri Zambry. Pic 2: Zambry signing the plaque.

The development consists of 24 units of 3 ½ storey contemporary lots with rooftop garden. The concept of the development is to appeal to proprietors who would like to operate their businesses without leaving the comfort of their home. It is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.

Zambry in his address thanked the company for adding another landmark to the Ipoh property scene and for bringing back activity to the town central.

During the ceremony Kinta Saujana also presented donations to the nearby schools of SMK Sam Tet and SRJK ( C ) Yuk Choy.

Pic 1:Breaking ground.Pic 2:Kinta Saujana Director Loh AhKow presenting a donation to Puan Sri Leong representing SRJKC Yuk Choy.

jag

Ipoh’s “Old Town” To Lure Tourists

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By Jerry Francis

The proposal by the Perak Government to turn the “Old Town” sector of Ipoh into a heritage attraction to draw domestic and foreign tourists is perhaps the right “tonic” to rejuvenate the ailing business sector.

It is likely to inspire owners of old buildings in the sector to restore their premises to their original state and carry on with their trading. Thus, the heritage buildings will be preserved.

Since the collapse of the tin mining industry in the mid 80s, this part of the city centre has been severely affected as business activities tapered down, causing many premises to close.

Perak Hydro building

Being the sector on which the city was founded, it has the largest concentration of impressive heritage buildings of Colonial, Islamic and Chinese architecture built at the turn of the last century. It is also a commercial hub of the city where most of the leading banks and old trading companies are located.

Among other heritage buildings are the Railway Station, Town Hall, High Court, mansions of old local chieftains and businessmen as well as the well-known Lorong Panglima or Concubine Lane – homes of mistresses of some of the rich miners at the height of Perak’s tin-producing days.

Describing the Old Town sector as “unique and historical”, State chairman for tourism, Dato’ Hamidah Osman, said the state government would undertake a study with various agencies, including the Ipoh City Council.

“We want to revive Old Town which was the heart of Ipoh at one time. We will look into the installation of street lights and arches and upgrading of facilities, such as the Heritage Trail which has been in place,” she said.

Chung Thye Phin building

The State government would also set up a tourist information centre at the railway station, which will be manned by multi-lingual experienced tour guides, as a value-added feature of the Old Town project.

The move is a clear indication that the state tourism committee has come up with a viable proposal to promote tourism in the city through history. It will also ultimately result in the beautification of the city.

The plan is to spruce up this sector, including revitalising the once beautiful garden in front of the railway station, which has become an important entry point of the city.

Such a project should get the full backing of the city council, business community and residents to ensure that it would be successfully implemented and sustained through proper maintenance.

This was why in May, last year, I posed the question – “Are We Ashamed of Ipoh’s Glorious Past?” My intention, then and now, is to promote our city for its history and heritage.

HSBC Ipoh

I suggested the four-word slogan “City That Tin Built” to be effectively used to promote the city as it sums up its history and heritage, reflecting the glorious past of an important centre of the tin mining industry, which had been so significant in the economic development of the country and as the centre of the once world’s largest alluvial tin deposit area.

The slogan, which is unique, could also be easily and aggressively marketed to capture the imagination of the tourists and lure them to Ipoh and the Kinta Valley. Why this slogan has not been endorsed is beyond my comprehension.

How do we expect a slogan “Bersih, Hijau Dan Membangun” (Green, Clean and Developing) to attract tourists to the city? Perhaps we could learn from the success of Malacca, which has developed tourism around its slogan “Historical City”. Among its projects is “Jonker Street” that has transformed the old Chinatown into a successful heritage tourist spot with art galleries, souvenir shops, and eateries of various popular local cuisines and cakes.

I feel Ipoh too can successfully promote its history and its well-known delicious hawker food and iconic products. It can be one big living monument to the tin-mining industry, which would be educational as well as a tourist attraction. The theme of the city’s tourism projects should be a showcase of the tin-mining industry, the life of the pioneering tin-mining community, various mining methods and its heritage.

These should be supported by the establishment of a tin-mining museum, and preservation of its heritage such as the last dredge, mining towns such as Papan, and a gallery of leading pioneers of the tin-mining industry in the Kinta Valley – a history of which we should be proud. Only then can we expect the “Old Town” sector to recover from its present situation, where many of the business establishments are moving to new growth areas due to lack of activities and business opportunities.