Category Archives: Cover Story

Front Page Stories from Ipoh Echo Print Newspaper

Remembering Perak’s Turbulent Past

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By James Gough

Every June, they come to remember. This is a solemn time as High Commissioners from United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal; Malaysian Military, Police and Veterans’ representatives converge in Ipoh for the Veterans Remembrance events which are held at Taiping, Ipoh and Batu Gajah.

“We should always remember and honour them for the sacrifices they’ve made.”

The services, which are held over three days, have seen a number of Commonwealth Veteran Clubs such as the Malaya-Borneo Veterans Association of Australia religiously attending over the last several years. The presence of these Commonwealth veterans prompted the Perak State government to host a “Veterans’ Night” dinner last year in recognition of their past contributions.

Remembering Perak’s Turbulent Past-1

Remembrance Ceremony at God’s Little Acre

God’s Little Acre is a cemetery located at Batu Gajah, which holds its annual remembrance ceremony on the second Saturday of every June.

Interred here, besides army and police personnel are civilians, tin miners and planters who were killed during the Malayan Emergency (1948 to 1960).

According to R. Sivalingam, Chairman of the God’s Little Acre sub-committee as well as Chairman of the Malaysian Palm Oil Association, Perak Branch (MPOA), the original memorial service was organised as part of Police Week celebrations in 1982 by the then OCPD of Batu Gajah Dato’ R. Thambipillay. Subsequently in 1984, the Perak Planters’ Association (now renamed MPOA) took on the role to organise the annual event.

Among those buried here are the three British planters, Arthur Walker, John Allison and his young assistant, Ian Christian, who were shot by communist guerrillas on June 16, 1948 at Sungai Siput, 18 miles north of Ipoh.

The cold-blooded murder of these planters prompted the government to declare a state of emergency, initially at Ipoh and Sungai Siput and subsequently over the whole of Malaya, two days later.

Remembering Perak’s Turbulent Past-2

Remembrance Trail

Before the remembrance services became an annual affair, there was the Warriors Day event which took place at the cenotaph located at the grounds of Ipoh Railway Station. However, this was not scheduled as an annual affair.

After the God’s Little Acre ceremony was organised annually, with regular attendance by the Commonwealth dignitaries, the event at the cenotaph was added as part of the programme.

The other locations that participated in the annual remembrance ceremony included the Kamunting Christian cemetery at Taiping. Those interred here are British, Australian, New Zealand army personnel and a few Sarawak Rangers who perished during the Emergency (1948-1960).

At Kem Syed Putra, Tambun Road those laid to rest are Gurkha soldiers that died during the Emergency, as well as during the Confrontation with Indonesia (1962-1965).

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Remembering Perak’s Turbulent Past-4Remembrance and Perak History

On one of the four walls of the cenotaph is a plaque citing the “Gallant Members of the Armed Forces, Police and Civilians who sacrificed their lives defending the nation during The Malayan Emergency 1948-1960, Indonesian Confrontation 1962-1965 and The Re-Insurgency Period 1972-1990”.

Indeed for most of the post-war Emergency period, a lot of activities took place in and around Perak. After the war there were food shortages and high inflation causing civil unrest which, ultimately, led to the declaration of Emergency in 1948.

Perak had been the major contributor to the country’s economy largely through its tin wealth and was considered as “economically important to the Federation”. As such the state became a hotly contested target for the government and the communists.

As an indication of the amount of Emergency activities that took place in Perak, the blackest areas throughout the Emergency were those around Sungai Siput and Ulu Kinta. In fact, they were the last in Malaya to be declared “white”.

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The Briggs ‘Resettlement’ Plan

One of the initiatives introduced by the Government then was the Briggs Plan whose strategy was to cut off all supplies to the Communists be it food, money, information, and even recruits.

The plan was to create new villages and resettle the rural squatters there. The new village perimeter would be fenced with 10-foot high barbed wires and a curfew imposed from 6pm to 6am. Residents were body searched when leaving for work in the morning and were allowed to take food for one individual for one day.

This social engineering plan involved almost 1 million Chinese squatters and created settlements such as Kampong Bahru Rapat, Kampong Bahru Bercham and Ampang Bahru, to name a few. The other strategy was to provide a sense of security for the residents in the hope that they would provide support and information for the government.

The Emergency ended on January 14, 1960 when the whole of central Perak was declared “white” at a ceremony at the Ipoh Town Padang.

Remembering Perak’s Turbulent Past-6

The Re-Insurgency (1968-1989)

While the Emergency was fought most gratefully alongside Forces from the Commonwealth, the Re-Insurgency, which lasted from 1968 till 1989, was fought by our very own Malaysian Armed Forces and Police personnel.

The Communist Terrorists who had escaped to the sanctuary in South Thailand in 1960 returned in 1968 by launching an ambush against Malaysian security forces in the Kroh-Betong salient in upper Perak killing 17. The attack marked the start of the Re-Insurgency sometimes referred to as the 2nd Emergency.

The Re-Insurgency lasted till 1989 during which time, the mettle of our Malaysian security forces was tested through terrorist acts of sabotage and assassinations.

One particular daring act was the assassination of Perak’s Chief Police Officer Tan Sri Koo Chong Kong in 1974.

Koo was on his way home at Jalan Tower off Jalan Raja DiHilir for lunch in his official car and had stopped at the traffic lights along Jalan Hospital when two men on a motorcycle, dressed as students in white uniforms, opened fire at him. Koo’s bodyguard cum driver died on the spot. Koo was rushed to the hospital 100 metres away but was mortally wounded. Koo’s assassination was one of many targeted at police and Special Branch personnel.

Remembering Perak’s Turbulent Past-5

In the book, ‘The Turbulent Years in Perak’, memoirs of former Perak NST Bureau Chief Jerry Francis, he described the many instances of communist terrorist activities right at our doorstep. They took place “at such unsuspecting areas as the Kledang Hill jogging site and populated areas in Menglembu and Buntong”.

Francis’s accounts, which covered security operations extensively, also talks about communist camps at the Bukit Kinta Forest Reserve and a few kilometres south at Kramat Pulai. It mentions the joint security operations along common borders by Thai and Malaysian forces thus disrupting communist logistic operations. It also describes the construction of the east-west highway as “a success for the people and government in winning the battle of wits against the communists”.

In December 1989, a Peace Accord was signed between Thailand, Malaysia and the outlawed Malayan Communist Party at Hatyai, Thailand which concluded the Re- Insurgency period. Some 1200 communist members laid down their arms and were given the option to either return to Malaysia or remain in Thailand.

A monument was built to remember these troubled years. The monument, named The Malaysian Army Insurgency War Memorial (Dataran Juang Tentera Darat) was erected in 2009 and is located at Kem Banding close to the bridge at Lake Temenggor.

Having lived all my life in Ipoh it surprises me that there were so many battles and skirmishes taking place all around me while I was growing up. Thankfully, for peace-loving Ipohites like us, our safety is assured owing to the presence of these brave security personnel. We should always remember and honour them for the sacrifices they have made.

Kampar – Malaysia’s First University Town

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By James Gough

Just ten years ago when anyone mentioned Kampar, the only images that came to mind were claypot chicken rice, Kampar chicken biscuits and the hills that run parallel on the east side to the main street of town. Flash forward ten years and a new image leaps into awareness. Kampar is UTAR or University Tunku  Abdul Rahman with its wide and spacious campus grounds, a wide expanse of lake with young student cyclists whizzing past every few minutes. But this is not the original Kampar of memory but Bandar Baru Kampar or Kampar New Town located north of the old town.

utar 11a-001

Collapse of Tin Brought New Life to Kampar

Bandar Baru Kampar or Kampar New Town was the result of the collapse of the tin industry in Malaysia in 1985. Located to the north of Kampar town, it was started by Tan Sri Hew See Tong, 82, a former tin miner and former MP of Kampar from 1995 till 2008.

Hew, who lived all his life in Kampar, felt it was his ‘duty and responsibility to do something’ for his hometown, Kampar. When his own mining operations ground to a halt in 1989, Hew used his ex-mining land to the north of Kampar to venture into housing and industrial development, giving birth to the creation of Kampar New Town from a sandy yet scenic landscape.

New Economic Activities

At an interview with Ipoh Echo held at the Grand Kampar Hotel, Hew elaborated that his initial initiative attracted electronic companies to his new location. Though the companies are no longer here “their technology had become outdated”, it was the start of a new economic activity which spurred property development and became a catalyst for the Kampar of today.

However, it was Hew’s initiative to successfully encourage Tunku Abdul Rahman College (TARC) to set up a branch at Kampar, that was the cornerstone that has made Kampar what it has become today, a University Town.

*clockwise) Tan Sri Hew See Tong, GrandKampar Hotel and Bandar Baru Kampar
(clockwise) Tan Sri Hew See Tong, Grand Kampar Hotel and Bandar Baru Kampar

Hew’s original offer to the management of TARC was the use of five shop lots with a RM1 rental per year and a donation of 20Ha of his ex-mining land as a permanent site for the college. Hew also garnered the support of then MCA President Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik. Hence on May 2003, TAR College was officially opened in Kampar.

The subsequent setting up of the main campus of University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) located in Kampar was also facilitated by Hew. Engaging the assistance of former Menteri’s Besar Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib and Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli as well as MCA leader Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, the Perak State Government subsequently granted UTAR a 520-ha piece of ex-mining land to build its campus.

Excellent Study Environment

UTAR was officially opened in June 2007 and is located in a scenic location flanked by placid lakes and picturesque mountains.

UTAR's study environment is quiet, comfortable and conducive
UTAR’s study environment is quiet, comfortable and conducive

Its campus houses five faculties which include the Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Business and Finance, Engineering and Green Technology, Information and Communication Technology and Faculty of Science. It also has facilities such as a gymnasium, basketball court, volleyball court for sports and extracurricular activities.

A walk through the campus starting from its Block A, Heritage Building, via the walkway which  follows the edge of the lake links the subsequent blocks and provides a panoramic vista for the visitor to view how former mining ponds are integrated together with the landscape and buildings creating a very conducive environment for studying and youth activities.

Similarly the students’ accommodation located across the lake are within cycling distance and bicycle traffic tends to increase before and after classes and during meal times at New Town.

UTAR has facilities for sport and extra curricular activities
UTAR has facilities for sport and extra curricular activities

Journalism student Lena Toon who is currently interning with Ipoh Echo till August, described the overall study environment as quiet, comfortable and conducive. Toon who lives in  Ipoh commutes by bus on weekends and like the majority of students, cycles to class.

Extra-curricular activities are plentiful with Wushu being particularly well attended. Its Club President, Lecturer Lee How Chinh admitted that his students’ passion for the sport made it the most active club for two straight years and contributed three of five participants at the Asian University games in Laos last year.

Time for dinner at Bandar Baru Kampar
Time for dinner at Bandar Baru Kampar

An early evening visit to Kampar New Town revealed the hordes of students literally flock to the town centre mostly on bicycles for their evening meal while at the field across, other youths were still playing Frisbee. Notably too at New Town were the outlets of Old Town White Coffee, McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza as well as K-Box Karaoke and even a gym and skating rink all within the centre.

Spin off  Services

Besides property development which was created to provide accommodation and commercial services, other services here include retail shops, a supermarket, restaurants, hotels and bicycle shops.

According to Hew, TARC has 2000 students while UTAR currently has over 14,000 students and is increasing on average 10 per cent each year. UTAR has a capacity for over 20,000 students and Hew anticipates UTAR’s population to increase to 18,000 by the year 2018.

An issue about insufficient accommodation was heard during UTAR Kampar’s recent second convocation day held at its 4000 capacity Tun Ling Liong Sik grand hall. The event was held over three days in order to accommodate the students to share their proud achievement with their parents.

Kampar’s main hotel is the 155-room Grand Kampar Hotel centrally located in New Town though there are several budget hotels located in the town.

Room for Improvement

Hew, when asked if he had done his duty and responsibility, acknow-ledged that “yes, Kampar has been revived”.

He elaborated that assuming the 14,000 students that were living in Kampar spent an estimate of RM14 million per month, based on RM1000 per month expenditure, the town would be flush with RM168 million per year just from tertiary education.

Adding that there was still a lot of room for improvement Hew highlighted the recent opening of the Westlake International School within the same locality as UTAR which provides students the opportunity for a globalized environment.

Westlake International School offers students opportunities for a globalized environment
Westlake International School offers students opportunities for a globalized environment

The international school which started this year offers the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) curriculum that is recognised worldwide. The current enrolment is over 100 students but has a capacity to accommodate 3000 students ultimately.

Hew shared his other planning projects over the next five years which includes service apartments for short-term stays (1-2 months) for visitors, a condominium for overseas students and their families and a 5-acre Kampar Walk close to Westlake.

Kampar’s Heritage Tourism

Another area for economic activity says Hew, is tourism. Hew who has been involved with the tin industry all his life, has created a tin museum depicting the various aspects of early mining activity.

Hew’s vision for tourism could be put to the test. Moving through Kampar’s main road are several Chinese clan houses, a post office and a hospital. The 100-year-old Chinese temple is still there as is the Catholic Sacred Heart Church at the end of the road just past the Merdeka clock tower built to commemorate Malaysia’s independence day.

Kampar Heritage Tourism.(clockwise) Tin Museum, Kampar main street with Merdeka Clock Tower in the foreground. Clan houses beside the Chinese Temple.
Kampar Heritage Tourism.(clockwise) Tin Museum, Kampar main street with Merdeka Clock Tower in the foreground. Clan houses beside the Chinese Temple.

What was equally amazing was one of the houses on the main road belonged to Imam Prang Jabarumun, the Assistant Penghulu of Gopeng, a Mandailing’ who in the 1890s played midwife to the birth of Kampar originally called Mambang di Awan (fairy in the clouds).

In the book ‘Kinta Valley’ by Khoo Salma Nasution and Abdur Razzaq Lubis “Imam Prang Jabarumun, upon discovering a very rich tin field had been discovered at Mambang di-awan, demanded that Kinta District Officer JBM Leech follow him immediately to lay out the township”.

Leech acknowledging the site to be valuable selected a township site and named it Kampar after a little stream close by. For Leech, Mambang di-Awan was too long a name for a Chinese mining village.

Leech later in 1891 described the progress of Kampar ‘from the most backward to one of the most prosperous’. He added that “it has grown from a cluster of huts into a large and flourishing mining village with 154 shops which had been laid out with the usual blocks of ten 20 ft building lots”.

These shoplots still exist on the main street and would make a good heritage tourism product for Kampar.

Apparently Hew is right again. There is still a lot of room for improvement.

 

IPOH – From Bean Sprouts to Sprouting Hotels

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By James Gough

Hotels in Ipoh before 2009, were very few. In our September 16, 2011, report under the topic ‘Ipoh City Council’s Plans for VPY 2012’, we reported that Ipoh had six 3 and 4-star hotels and 71 3-star-and-under hotels available with another two big hotels, MH Hotel and Kinta Riverfront and Suites, coming on stream at the end of that year. Fast forward to 2013 and a quick snapshot around town revealed a hotel in many corners all around town. Come 2015 and there will be a total of 98 hotels just for Ipoh.

Will Tourism Growth Sustain the Growth in Hotels?

With the proliferation of hotels all over Ipoh, the question that comes to mind is that of  sustainability. Will occupancies keep up with the increased supply of rooms?

Ipoh hotels 1 

MBI’s Hotel Report

At Ipoh City Council’s monthly board meeting in March, Mayor Roshidi produced a report on the number of hotels (star rated and budget hotels) that had been approved by the Council’s One Stop Centre over the last two years. The data did not include the existing hotels opened earlier.

The data revealed 46 approved and operating hotels, one 5-star, one 4-star, eighteen 1-3 star and 26 budgets; with those planned and under construction totalling 39. (One 5-star, three 3-4 star and 35 budgets). These include the Weil Hotel (300 rooms), Casuarina Meru Raya (150 rooms) and Cititel. Of those approved but not yet rated – 13. This includes the Ipoh Convention Centre (250 rooms) bringing the total of all these new establishments in the last two years, and those coming online in the next two years, to a total of 98 hotels just for Ipoh.

In terms of occupancies, it is surprising that despite the entry of new hotel players over the last two years, there has not been a dilution in occupancies and all operating hotels have reported to be doing well.

So what has contributed to this positive state of affairs?

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Upcoming Casuarina Hotel at Meru Raya

VPY 2012 Promotions Contribute to Longer Stays

The promotions for Visit Perak Year (VPY) 2012 may have started late (in the middle of 2011) but it nevertheless got the message through that Perak was a tourist destination that had yet to be fully discovered.

According to Vincent Ee, the President of the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), Perak Chapter, Perak’s three main active tourist destinations are: Taiping, (known for its heritage), Manjung, (and to a greater extent) the attraction of Pangkor Island, and Ipoh known for its delicious food and heritage. All three have shown an increase in visitors.

Although promotions have been going on for years, attractions such as Gua Tempurung and Kellie’s Castle have reflected improved visitor figures for the last two years. Ee attributed this to the good VPY 2012 promotion work that was carried out.

Ee stated that the promotion had contributed positively to better room night figures which translated to an approximate 12 to 15 per cent improvement of extra nights stayed at MAH member hotels.

Considering that there were more hotels opened in the last 18 months, the improved room occupancy reflected a positive and healthy tourism market.

According to Tourism Malaysia Perak’s hotel guests data, the number of visitors to Perak for 2012 amounted to 2.42 million.

 Ipoh hotels 2

Maggie Ong, Director of Syuen Hotel
Maggie Ong, Director of Syuen Hotel

Management and marketing

Ms Maggie Ong, the Director of Syuen Hotel, who is also the Deputy President of MAH  reconfirmed that even though the room supply has gone up, its MAH member hotels were still healthy and recorded an average 60-65 per cent occupancy rate last year.

Undoubtedly, budget hotels do take away some room nights from the star-rated ones but different customers have different budgets and each hotel will attract their level of customers accordingly.

One strategy that the bigger hotels use to attract visitors is to organise seminars and conventions and introduce stay packages with local tours thrown in. This has opened up new markets and is bringing in new visitors to Ipoh. For example, during the recent school holidays, Impiana Hotel threw in a free entry to Lost World of Tambun as part of its holiday package.

Networking

A positive development adopted by several of the older hotels was the initiating of a network of information sharing and cooperation amongst MAH members to standardise prices and tourism activities and to recommend customers when there is a spillover from large events.

This network initiative ultimately benefits the customer in terms of seamless service while at the same time contributing towards a harmonious hotel industry environment. Currently, this team of network members are working on the “International Waiters Race” event, and meet punctually every month.

Tourism Products: Food, Heritage and Ipoh Town Itself

A main attraction for Ipoh has always been about its food, be it chicken and bean sprouts or a whole menu of local delicacies. Then, later came about the Heritage Trails of Old Town. While these two attractions continue to draw the visitor to Ipoh, Ipoh town itself is a popular draw for the adventurous visitor where all the attractions in Ipoh are within walking distance.

Occasionally, it is common to see visitors arriving by train, foregoing the taxi and preferring to walk 2 to 3km to their hotels instead, and in the process take in the sights of the Heritage Trail before arriving at their destination.

Similarly, due to the proximity of the hotels to the popular food outlets, most visitors prefer to walk compared to driving and having to look for a parking lot. Due to this fact, Syuen Director Ong has designed a poster-size map to be placed in the hotel identifying the popular food spots and attractions around town.

 Ipoh hotels 5

Future Challenges: Attract More Foreigners

Ipoh’s hotel industry may be healthy for now but with more hotels coming on stream over the next 12 months will it remain status quo?

According to Ong, the tourism market can still grow and gave the visitor composition which consists of 60 per cent domestic and 40 per cent foreigners as an indicator that the foreign visitor base has volumes of potential for growth.

“Foreigners visit for the Heritage Trail. However, they lament that there is insufficient product knowledge of the heritage products which leaves them dissatisfied,” added Ong.

Another lament the visitor has is the difficulty of access to tourism products, such as, the Lost World of Tambun, Gua Tempurung or even Kellie’s Castle. Sadly this issue was reported by Ipoh Echo two years ago but apparently it has not yet been addressed.

Another challenge that bears consideration is that of direct air links. With the upgrade of Sultan Azlan Shah Airport completed, the relevant authorities should initiate direct air links with ASEAN cities such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila. Should a direct link with Guangzhou, Southern China be possible, Ipoh will see a consistent flow of visitors even though it will be for food visits initially.

Cleanliness and safety is another issue raised by visitors and is one of the challenges that needs addressing.

Ipoh City Convention Centre

Work on the Ipoh City Convention Centre (pic below) is just starting at the former Bougainvillea Garden in between Syuen Hotel and MBI. When completed in two years time it will consist of a 250-room hotel and have a seating capacity for 2500 convention participants.

Assuming that its first convention in the future is fully attended, it will be a windfall spillover for all the hotels in the immediate surrounding vicinity.

Considering the convention scenario and assuming the measures to attract more foreign visitors are initiated, Ipoh’s hotel industry can, not only grow but in all probability, thrive.

Ipoh hotels 4

GE13: “The Mother of All Elections”

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By James Gough

The 13th General Election held on Sunday May 5, referred to as “The Mother of All Elections”, registered a very high voter turnout of about 84 per cent nationwide. The results of the election in Perak were announced in the early morning of Monday May 6, at the official residence of Perak Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir. At around 2am Zambry took to the podium to announce that BN had been re-elected to administer the state of Perak for another 5-year term. It had won 31 state seats as compared to Pakatan Rakyat’s 28 state seats. Of the 24 parliamentary seats in Perak both BN and PR had won 12 each.

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GE13 Mother of all elections 1“The atmosphere was like a neighbourhood gathering”
Gathered there were the BN candidates and the party’s volunteers who had helped during the 15 days of campaigning since Nomination Day on April 20. Present were former MB Tan Sri Tajol Rosli, incumbent MPs for Tambun Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadziah and Padang Rengas Dato’ Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz.
In his first address as the newly-minted Menteri Besar, Zambry thanked the voters for giving him the mandate to serve them for another five years. “I am humbled by your trust in me to serve you for another term. I am aware of our responsibilities, which is to fulfil our pledges in line with our “janji ditepati” (“promises fulfilled”) slogan, he said.
GE13 Mother of all elections 3Admitting that BN Perak had won by a slim majority of three seats he added that it was still better than that in 2008 when PR won by a similar margin. “It’s the reverse now”, he exclaimed. Zambry won his state constituency of Pangkor (N52) with a majority of 5,124 votes.
Earlier on the night of May 5, the DAP candidates for Ipoh Timor and Ipoh Barat were informed of their party’s clean sweep at their respective counting stations.
DAP’s Ipoh Timor candidates of Thomas Su (P64), Wong Kah Woh (N25), Ong Boon Piow (N26) and Howard Lee (N27) received their good news before 11pm. Present was BN’s parliamentary candidate, Kathleen Wong who graciously congratulated Su on his win.
However, Ipoh Barat candidates M. Kulasegaran (P65), Cheong Chee Khing (N28) and A. Sivasubramaniam (N30) received their good news after 12.30am on Monday, May 6.

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The elected BN candidates

High Voter Turnout

Ipoh consists of the five parliamentary seats:
P63: Tambun including N23 Manjoi and N24 Hulu Kinta
P64: Ipoh Timor including N25 Canning, N26 Tebung Tinggi and N27 Pasir Pinji
P65: Ipoh Barat including N28 Bercham, N29 Kepayang and N30 Buntong
P66: Batu Gajah including N31 Jelapang and N32 Menglembu
P71: Gopeng including N43 Sungai Rapat and N44 Simpang Pulai.

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The elected Tambun candidates (L-R): Mohd Ziad, Dato’
Seri Ahmad Husni and Dato’ Aminnudin
GE13 Mother of all elections  8
Elected: Dr Lee Boon Chye (Gopeng P71)

Due to earlier calls for voters to return home to vote, voter turnout was very good with successful candidates winning by large margins. This was evident for Tambun, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadziah (BN), turnout: 85 per cent, majority 9,325; Gopeng, Dr Lee Boon Chye (PKR) turnout 83.4 per cent, majority 15,300 and Ipoh Barat, M. Kulasegaran, turnout: 80.9%, majority 29,038, to name a few. With the exception of Tambun, the other four parliamentary seats were won outright by Pakatan Rakyat.
At the 2008 polls, Sungai Rapat (N43) under Gopeng was won by Dato’ Hamidah Osman (BN). This time however, she lost to Radzi bin Zainon of PAS (2,638 votes). Sg Rapat has 42,873 voters comprising of Malay 59 per cent, Chinese 31 per cent and Indian 10 per cent.
On the morning of Sunday May 5, voters from Canning could be seen walking to their polling station even before 8am. By 10am lines of voters could be seen queuing up to cast their votes although by afternoon the numbers appeared to have dwindled.
Overall, the process was generally smooth and the atmosphere was like a neighbourhood gathering where whole families could be seen greeting old friends at the registration table. One parent remarked that coming to the polls this time was like ching meng, the Chinese all souls day where whole families would return home for the occasion.
Over at Buntong, the queues were still busy even at 3pm which prompted some of the polling workers to wonder if all voters could be processed in time.

Another interesting observation of the voter turnout was the large number of youngsters at the polling stations. It prompted V. Sivakumar to exclaim, “It’s a wonderful sight everywhere.”
Ipoh Echo subsequently interviewed the successful parliamentary candidates to get their views on problems affecting their constituencies.

GE13 Mother of all elections  9
Elected: M. Kulasegaran (Ipoh Barat P64)

 

One pertinent issue that was highlighted to all the candidates during the campaign period was the failure of the local council services, specifically regarding SLR (sampah, longkang and rumput) or rubbish, drains and uncut grass. The others are gaping potholes and poor street lighting. Voters complained that the services available are poor.
Voters complained about the disposal of commercial waste. They regarded it as poor although shopkeepers are paying extra. The other consistent complaint was the poor public bus service and the exorbitant taxi fares and, interestingly, frustration over parking space at the General Hospital.
Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni was not available for the interview. The new state assemblyman for Hulu Kinta, Dato’ Aminnudin Mat Hanafiah admitted that local council issues and public transport services were highlighted during his campaign walkabouts.

Members of Parliament for Gopeng, Dr Lee Boon Chye and Ipoh Timor, Thomas Su Seong Kiong stated that the Ipoh airport should be better connected to regional airports like Bangkok or Manila to enable investors and tourists to access Ipoh faster. Dr Lee added that Gopeng, with its established eco-adventure resorts and caves, would benefit from more tourists arrivals while Su stated investors had indicated a need for direct flights to Ipoh.
Ipoh Barat candidate M. Kulasegaran highlighted that flooding, while being addressed, still occurs. Security and squatters are the other problems that have yet to be resolved.

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Elected; Ipoh Timor P64 led by Thomas Su Keong Siong (3rd from left)

Dato’ Seri Husni had earlier hinted on creating more libraries and co-curricular facilities such as basketball courts within his constituency. These are long-term goals for youth development and leadership skills.
Regarding economic activities and upgrades, all are agreeable that more industries offering more opportunities for skilled workers, should be created. This should be followed up by establishing vocational colleges. This could help raise the standard of living of the constituents.
The elected candidates felt the pulse of their voters and will be sitting with their respective state assemblymen and teamsters to work out a workable solution or solutions.
All of the candidates spoken to are agreeable on one pertinent point – the eyes of the rakyat have been opened at last and they are demanding for a better future.

GE13 It’s Time to Decide

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By James Gough

The day of reckoning is here, specifically on May 5, the day Malaysians throughout the country go to the polls. Ever since the dissolution of Parliament and the Perak state assembly on April 3, there has only been one single topic that every Malaysian talks about every day – the upcoming election. Caretaker Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir announced the list of BN’s candidates on April 16. The informal Opposition coalition of PAS, PKR and DAP made known their candidate list two days later on April 18.

Barisan National
Barisan National
Pakatan Rakyat
Pakatan Rakyat
Ceylyn Tay  (BN) & Wong Kah Woh (DAP)
Ceylyn Tay (BN) & Wong Kah Woh (DAP)

Malaysia’s Mother of all Elections

A glaring difference in this year’s lineup is the large number of new and young candidates compared to the previous election. The line-up includes Canning Councillor Ceylyn Tay (BN) running for the Canning state seat. She is up against incumbent Wong Kah Woh (DAP). Over at Bercham Lim Huey Shan (BN) will square off with Cheong Chee Keoing (DAP); both are new faces.

Another notable change is veteran politician Lim Kit Siang. He is giving up Ipoh Timor parliamentary seat to move to Gelang Patah, Johor. He is replaced by Thomas Su Keong Siong, previously State Assemblyman for Pasir Pinji, a constituency of Ipoh Timor.

However, none of the above can beat the ‘David vs Goliath’ contest for the parliamentary seat of Tambun. Incumbent Dato’ Seri Husny Hanadziah (BN), the country’s second Finance Minister was MP for the last four terms. Husny is being challenged by a rookie, 27-year-old Siti Aishah Shaik Ismail (PKR). Siti is an IT and Communications diploma holder who entered politics barely three years ago. She campaigns by going house to house in the morning and holding ceramah at night markets.

Siti, born in Manjoi, states that, of Tambun’s 90,000 voters, 65 per cent are low-income earners. Forty one per cent of the constituents are below the age of 40. She feels they will give her a fighting chance in making an impact on the voters.

Siti Aishah Shaik Ismail (PKR) – 3rd from left & Dato’ Seri Husny Hanadziah (BN) – 5th from left
Siti Aishah Shaik Ismail (PKR) – 3rd from left & Dato’ Seri Husny Hanadziah (BN) – 5th from left

Both BN and PR have come out with their manifestos pledging to carry out changes if voted into power. PR announced their manifesto on April 8 while BN announced theirs on Monday April 15 which led to accusations of copying and stealing of ideas. Nevertheless, BN has a clear advantage as their manifesto has a list of actions already implemented and delivered for the benefit of the rakyat. If you want an update on issues that are being talked about, attend the many ceramah taking place around town.

Since the dissolution of Parliament on April 3, DAP has been conducting ceramah almost every week. Their ceramah programme can be accessed at dapperak.org. Ceramah locations and timings, stretching from Kampar to Taiping, are on display.

DAP ceramahs held around Ipoh are well attended. Can this be used as a barometer of their popularity? It remains to be seen on May 5.

The question on each voters’ lips is whether the ruling BN government can retain the administration of not only the country but that of the state of Perak?

DAP ceramah at Bercham with Lim Guan Eng at the microphone
DAP ceramah at Bercham with Lim Guan Eng at the microphone

For senior voters, the memory of how BN came to power in Perak still lingers on while others feel that the economic stability provided by Zambry’s government over the last four years is a positive alternative for the state and future generations.

Barisan National
Zambry launches BN Perak’s manifesto ‘Aku Janji’

Despite prevailing sentiments most Perakeans share a common trait. Many of them have encouraged their children, studying and working outside of Ipoh, to return home to vote. Could this be the beginning of better things to come? Your guess is as good as mine.

What has happened to Teh Tarik and Mamak Stalls?

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By Susan HoTaiwanese dessertsTaiwanese desserts

Where youth used to han out at ‘mamak’ stalls and meeting friends, today they’re more likely to gather at Chatime, Bo Eight Tea, Gong Cha, SnowDream and Black Ball. What do these brands have in common? These are the places where they serve milk teas with a difference, Bubble Milk Tea, the new youth fad drink, touted to be 2-in-1, drink and food in a cup, just a slurp away. Located at small shops, the younger set are flocking to these places and standing in line for these new fangled drinks, paying relatively high prices for them in comparison to the old fashioned ‘Teh Tarik’.

Young Generations Turn to Taiwan Desserts

So what has become of the Malaysian standard, the Teh Tarik, that ubiquitous welcoming mug of strong black tea, thickened with evaporated milk and sweetened often with condensed milk.  Before the availability of the electric blender, it was a common sight to watch the tea server pouring the tea back and forth from one mug to another usually with a gap of at least a metre, using ingenuity and manpower to create air in the tea for a slight foam.

 

Franchised Outlets Everywhere

Today, the Bubble Milk Tea has usurped the popularity of the Teh Tarik, its attraction being the addition of chewy bits which appeal to youths and also some adults. Bubble Milk Tea is not all that new and has been with us for sometime now, hitherto appearing at certain stalls, especially in the night markets or pasar malam.

Taiwanese dessertsToday enterprising entrepreneurs are cashing in on the popularity and setting up franchised outlets everywhere. Currently, there are four Chatime outlets, two Bo Eight Tea outlets, one Gong Cha outlet, one SnowDream outlet and one Black Ball outlet in Ipoh. One can also find Chatime and Gongcha in Taiping. However, it is Gong Cha that has the most outlets in Perak, including Kampar and Sitiawan.

When Old Town White Coffee hit the ‘Cafe’ scene some years back, everyone rushed to try the new phenomenon, with its snacks, tea and coffee in a cleverly designed ambiance, reminiscent of the old days of the popular coffee shops. It has since spawned many ‘Wannabes’ all striving to capture the same youth market. And it has now become stale.

And this is where Taiwan desserts come in. Will it turn out to be the ‘flavour of the month’ as people are still rushing over to try it as it is still new, a  phenomenon akin to the time when J.Co Donuts opened in Kinta City. So what is it that attracts youths to leave their old nest and hop on to this new trend? Could it be the food or drinks that attract the youths?

Food and Drinks Served

Ipoh Echo took a look at the food and drinks offered in such outlets.

Gong Cha, Chatime and Bo Eight Tea have their share of specialties. They have their personal signature drinks, Brewed Tea, Milk Tea, Coffee, Iced Smoothies, Mousse drinks and Healthy Drinks for those who are more concerned for their health.

Taiwanese desserts

Gong Cha

For Gong Cha, the top seller has two layers, brewed tea as the base and special creamer foam on the upper layer. They recommend customers to drink it through the foam with either a straw or directly without mixing it. Some  prefer to stir and mix everything together before consuming. They offer tapioca pearls which give a chewy texture. The special add-on in Gong Cha is the White Pearls which you don’t get in other brands. It has a chewy yet crunchy texture which is low in calories. The staff here are also friendly and they are happy to offer recommendations. Gong Cha’s drinks start from RM3.90 onwards.

cover - chatime

Chatime

Chatime’s best seller is Grass Jelly Roasted Milk Tea. Chatime has QQ Jelly, which has a fruity taste and also the same chewy texture as jelly and Nata de Coco. Chatime also offers Mousse Tea, which is almost the same as the Gong Cha’s signature drink. Unfortunately, it is not available at all outlets in Ipoh. Chatime’s drinks start from RM4.90 onwards.

Bo Eight Tea

Bo Eight Tea offers the same Taiwan drinks with a special Ice Blended Fruit drink with fresh fruits. It is a combination of fruits and ice cream, enticing fruit lovers to this drink. They also serve the famous French Crepe Cakes in many flavours which cannot be found anywhere else.

Taiwanese desserts

Black Ball

Black Ball has items like Taro Balls, cubes of real yam, sweet potato, black pearls, grass jelly, red bean and more. At Black Ball, you can customize your dessert by mixing and matching the dessert base and toppings to your liking. Besides serving desserts in a bowl, Black Ball also sells similar drinks which can be found at Chatime, Gong Cha and Bo Eight Tea. Food prices range from RM3.90 and above.

SnowDream

SnowDream has the same desserts as Black Ball but you could also have a main course there. It also has food and snacks on the menu. They have special desserts like Red Bean Soup with black Glutinous Rice, Beancurd and Gingko Nuts, etc.

All of these outlets aim to satisfy customers by controlling their quality of food and developing new flavours. The difference between these outlets with the normal cafes is that you can adjust the level of sugar and ice in your drink. You can also opt for additional toppings at extra costs. There are healthier options which include tea, red beans, potatoes, yam balls and many others. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Unlike artificial flavouring and colouring, they taste original.

The food and drinks at these Taiwanese dessert shops are limited yet they have interesting ingredients with authentic taste which Malaysians can relate to. You can have it hot, cold or ice blended. The chilling factor is perfect for cooling down on a hot day just like a cup of ice sundae.

Taiwanese desserts

Self Service

These Taiwanese shops are usually self service. You order at the counter, pay and get a receipt with your number on it, then wait for your number to be paged, indicating your order is ready. Black Ball offers a more interesting service. Instead of getting a number, you get a funky apparatus which lights up and vibrates when your order is up.

It is no wonder that the local dessert stalls like those at our famous Tong Sui Gai a.k.a. Desserts Street (located along Jalan Sultan Ekram, opposite the Sam Tet Primary school) with its row of dessert stalls, are being forsaken in favour of these ‘new kids on the block’. Why sit in hot humid stalls outdoors when the comfort of air-conditioning and often WiFi beckons, is the general consensus.

Consumer Preferences

Taiwanese dessertsTwenty-six-year-old Colby goes to the new outlets for his Taiwanese desserts and also to meet up with his friends. “These places have free wireless service where I can watch Youtube videos with my friends when we are together. To compare these Taiwanese desserts to the food at cafes, I think the prices here are more affordable. Places such as Old Town have limited drink choices on their menu and are no longer worth the money for the quality and quantity given.”

Sixteen-year-old Alice mentions that she goes to these Taiwanese dessert outlets very often because of the influence of her friends and also the trend which is being set amongst the youths. She wouldn’t mind  going to such outlets every day. She also states that she goes to these outlets most of the time with her friends to do homework and to catch up with her friends.

Customization

I often visit these Taiwanese outlets with my friends as well as I like customizing my drinks. Cleanliness is also much better at the new dessert outlets. It is no wonder that students love going there for work and leisure. As one walks into these shops, one sees the youths with their laptops, smart phones or chatting away with their friends.

There is  no doubt that Taiwanese desserts have taken over youths’ taste buds. Wireless services have also contributed in a big way to their success and proliferation. They need not go to Taiwan for their food but just go to one of these shops to have a taste of Taiwan.

Hockey Hub Ipoh Growing in Strength and Stature

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By James Gough

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup International Hockey Tournament 6The recently-concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (SASC) International Hockey Tournament, the 22nd in the series, was considered the best ever edition of the annual game. This was proudly declared by tournament organiser, Dato’ Hj Abdul Rahim Md Ariff. Due to its significance, this international hockey tournament, the longest running invitational tournament in the world has been featured in the International Hockey Federation’s (IHF) annual calendar of events putting Ipoh on the world Hockey map.

Champions Australia
Champions Australia

“The organisation is world class in all aspects” – Gary Marsh, IHF Tournament Director

The invitational, the brainchild of HRH Sultan Azlan Shah, was intended to provide the home team an opportunity to play with world-class hockey teams following the country’s fall from grace in the early 1980s. The tournament, limited to 7 top-ranked teams in the world, made its debut in 1983.

This year’s tournament was held from March 9 till 17. Six teams, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and Malaysia were in Ipoh to wrest the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup International Hockey Tournament 1Without doubt the Malaysian team this year played a more spirited game compared to previous years. But that was not the reason for Rahim’s happiness. His joy was to witness and hear the infectious cheers of the crowd who filled the Azlan Shah Hockey Stadium to support the national team. The scenario was repeated for the whole duration of the tournament, especially when Malaysia was on the field.

The invitational is normally held during the mid-year school holidays to enable students and families to watch the matches. No entrance fee is levied and the attendance has been fairly good, increasing as the event progresses. The crowd is a mixed bag of locals and foreigners. The majority of the locals are from within Perak with a sprinkling of outsiders. However, foreign fans are made up of team officials and their “Imported” supporters.

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup International Hockey Tournament 3Since the Asia Cup will be held in Ipoh in August, the SASC was pushed forward to March. The week-long tournament was held at Stadium Azlan Shah, Ipoh with a seating capacity of 12,000. The home team’s sterling performance was the reason why the stadium was packed every other evening. They were the main draw.

Malaysia, ranked 13th, won their opening match against South Korea, ranked 8th with a slim 3-2 margin. The home team normally wins or draws in the preliminary rounds only to lose when the going gets tough. This raises the ire of fans who would then tag the team as “Jagoh Kampong” (village champion) the moment they begin to fumble. However, this was not the case this time around. They came out on top once again in their second game against New Zealand (ranked 6th) beating the Kiwis 2-1. The crowd on the second day was much larger considering it was a Sunday night.

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup International Hockey Tournament 4On the third day when Malaysia faced World No. 2, Australia, the stadium was filled to the brim. The fans were out in force to provide the much needed support considering that Australia had earlier beaten India 4-3 and steamrolled Pakistan 6-0.

Our Malaysian boys played their hearts out. Their determination saw them holding the mighty Aussies to a 1-1 draw. The equalising goal was scored by a Malaysian forward 44 seconds before the air horn was sounded. Immediately, vuvuzelas blared and drums pounded throughout the stadium. The atmosphere was ecstatic.

Malaysia’s next two games ended in a draw, 2-2 with Pakistan a similar 2-2 with India. The two draws paved the way to a much anticipated final with Australia, the other finalist.

Electrifying Final

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup International Hockey Tournament 2The stadium was packed to overflowing. To accommodate those who could not get in, a huge LED screen was erected in the car park where, according to Rahim, close to 2000 had gathered to watch the game.

The VIPs present during the final included members of the Royal family. HRH Sultan Azlan Shah who was indisposed, did not attend the tournament like previous years. But it was reported that he had followed every match on TV along with his grandchildren.

The Royal entourage was well represented that night. They included HRH Raja Muda Perak Raja Nazrin Shah, Raja Puan Besar Perak Tuanku Zara Salim, daughter YTM Raja Eleena and the wife of the late Raja Ashman Shah YTM Dato’ Seri Noraini Jane. Menteri Besar Dato Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir was there too.

When Malaysia opened account in the 4th minute through Faizal Saari, the entire stadium erupted. Unfortunately, Australia equalised in the 29th minute and took the lead a minute later.

Malaysia drew level in the 49th minute. But with barely 4 seconds left before the final whistle, Australia scored to claim the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with a 3-2 win over Malaysia.

The final match, as with all the earlier games, was fast and exciting. The Malaysian team this year played with a new found vitality. They took the challenge seriously and fans were on the edge for the entire 70 minutes of each match. This was unlike before as the tempo would taper off with time.

Perhaps the team’s new found strength and spirit are attributable to Malaysia’s new hockey coach, South African Paul Michael Revington. Or perhaps it was due to the foreign teams fielding their junior players while Malaysia fielded a mixed bag of junior and senior players throughout the tournament.

Whatever the reasons were, the enthusiasm displayed on the blue turf had a tremendous impact on fans’ turnout and TV viewers. Astro, the official broadcaster for the tournament, recorded a viewers’ average of 340,000 each time Malaysia took to the field. This figure is normally seen during finals of the European football leagues.

Hockey Courses

Gary Marsh
Gary Marsh,
Tournament Director

The coaches and umpires courses were held simultaneously during the tournament. The courses, held at the Raja Ashman Shah AHF-MHC Academy adjacent to the stadium, saw an enrolment of 36 from 11 Asian countries.

This year the academy focused on the AHF (Asian Hockey Federation) Level 2 Coaching Course and AHF Umpiring Course. The courses were held during the tournament, as the games were recorded and used for study and observation. The academy, which is acknowledged by AHF as a centre for Asian hockey, was started in 2011. Its objective is to train and prepare coaches, umpires and technical officials to manage competitions in the participants’ countries.

Mr Gary Marsh, the Tournament Director appointed by the International Hockey Federation (IHF) to oversee this year’s competition described the organisation as superb. “It’s world class, in all aspects,” he exclaimed. “The competitive team spirit shown by all the participating teams was excellent despite this being an invitational tournament,” he told Ipoh Echo.

Marsh further described the entire Ipoh set up, namely the tournament’s facilities, the academy and the courses offered as fantastic and being essential for the development of the sport in the country. What further impressed Marsh was the fanatical home fans. “They came with their entire families and this added to the atmosphere of the game. It was friendly and I loved every minute of it.”

Asia Cup

In August (August 24 to September 1) Ipoh will play host to another international-class hockey tournament, the 9th Men’s Asia Cup.

Eight teams, including Malaysia, will be participating. The event will be treated as a World Cup qualifying tournament. All participating nations will be fielding their first team and Malaysia can expect a gruelling fight to the finish.

Paul Michael Revington
Coach, Paul Michael Revington

According to Rahim, the IHF has recently expanded the World Cup Tournament to accommodate 16 teams instead of 12 previously. With this expansion it is hoped that Malaysia will make the cut.

When asked whether the home team was preparing for the World Cup, Coach Paul Revington’s reply was crisp. “My most important assignment is to help Malaysia win the Asia Cup so we can qualify for the 2014 World Cup in the Hague next year.”

Alluding to the final against Australia, Revington was truly amazed by the team’s fighting spirit. “If we remain consistent and embrace the challenge, we’ll forge ahead. Hopefully, this is a harbinger of good things to come. And once we start running, we’ll be unstoppable,” he remarked.

2014 Tournament

Due to the fixtures of the World Cup in May 2014, the 23rd edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah International Hockey Tournament next year is tentatively slated in the March-April timeframe.

Fans can expect a very exciting outing because the teams participating would have qualified for the World Cup. They would use the tournament as a testing ground for their teams.

It appears that only after 22 tournaments that Ipoh’s home-grown product is finally getting the recognition it is due. Considering that it is a permanent feature in Ipoh’s calendar of events, perhaps we should try to package the tournament for sports buffs, both local and foreign.

Towards this end, the efforts of Ipoh City Council, Tourism Perak and that of the Perak Hockey Association should be galvanised for the benefit of all. Haji Musa Dun, CEO of Tourism Perak, is receptive of the idea and has given his stamp of approval.

85% Clean Ipoh –Are We Getting There?

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By James Gough

Stories and reports about the cleanliness and rubbish about Ipoh are two consistent topics that has never failed to make it into the newspapers every week for the past two years. From Bercham to Pasir Puteh and Buntong the entire Ipoh community has contributed their share of complaints to the media and Ipoh City Council. The often used slogan, SLR or sampah (rubbish) longkang (drain) and rumput (grass) seems to be on the lips of all concerned Ipoh residents. Ipoh Echo too has contributed its share to helping identify a solution. Our June 16, 2012 issue 145 titled, “Cleaning Ipoh-A Joint Responsibility” touched on ‘illegal dump sites’, public education and enforcement.

85% Clean Ipoh85% Clean Ipoh

MB takes up the cudgel on cleanliness throughout Perak State, adding two more tasks: Street Lighting and Potholes

A follow-up issue, #151 on September 16 under the title of “Mayor Targets Ipoh To Be 85% Clean in 1 Year”, highlighted the standard operating procedures for Rubbish Collection, Grass Cutting and Drain Cleaning and the scope of work of the contractors. The same issue also carried a list of Ipoh Councillors and their contact numbers. The purpose of the overall report was to create awareness for residents to call their respective councillors if the specified procedures were not being followed.

Statewide Concern

Zambry: five main tasks
Zambry: five main tasks

Apparently the goals are not being attained as this topic of cleanliness took centre stage in early February, specifically after the weekly State Exco meeting on February 6, when Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir joined in the chorus of complaints and issued a stern warning to all Council Presidents and Councillors throughout the state to “improve their efficiency and productivity” in keeping the state clean.

Stating that he had received numerous complaints constantly about “councils and councillors” from all the districts in the state, for failing to carry out their responsibilities, Zambry reminded the relevant authorities “to set a good example and provide a good service to the residents”. He further added that he would be making spot checks and would not be “lenient anymore”. Not surprisingly Zambry listed the regular complaints of Uncollected Rubbish, Clogged Drains and Uncut Grass or SLR and included two other complaints: Faulty Street Lighting and Road Potholes. “These are the basic services and the five main tasks that the local authorities need to focus on and provide effective services to their communities”.

First Spot Check

True to his word, Zambry did make a spot check exactly a week later on February 13, immediately after the Chinese New Year break and after the State Exco meeting, to Ipoh City Council where he again repeated his expectations of the five main tasks to service the community.

Shabby signboard
Shabby signboard

When asked about Mayor Dato’ Roshidi’s target of 85% Clean Ipoh by August this year, Zambry commended Roshidi for setting the goal but clarified that being an ongoing SOP (standard operating procedure) the goal should be 100% immediately and the standard should subsequently be consistently maintained.

Much as Zambry’s statement is to be applauded, it will be a long and arduous task to re-educate local residents’ mindsets after such a long period of wanton lack of discipline.  At a recent Chinese New Year gathering organised by MBI with Bercham’s Councillor Ir Lai Kong Phooi, Dato’ Roshidi stressed the issue of cleanliness and provided forms for residents to fill up requesting MBI to assist in cleaning their neighbourhood be it their drain or illegal rubbish. One resident Mrs Ho even went to the extent of personally approaching Dato’ Roshidi to pour out her frustration about her filthy neighbourhood.

85% Clean Ipoh

85% Clean Ipoh

Appointment of Garden Waste Contractor

In a recent interview Roshidi updated Ipoh Echo that Ipoh City Council had recently met with all its 24 supervisors and regulators who had given their support and commitment towards achieving the Council’s 85% Clean Ipoh goal. Roshidi also highlighted that during the Council’s last meeting on cleanliness it had approved the privatization of the collection of garden waste. The respective department in charge is currently working out the details of the operation and this collection service is anticipated to begin by April 1 or earlier.

Once finalized, the Council will proceed to initiate a gotong royong simultaneously with zone councillors and heads of departments in 17 zones in Ipoh. Roshidi anticipates that this total operation, when it takes place, will be a positive move towards achieving the 85% Clean Ipoh goal for the long term.

With regards to enforcement, Roshidi stated it was ongoing and since the beginning of 2013 over 300 summonses for cleanliness has been issued to offenders.

Project Showcase

Roshidi has also proposed to showcase the cleanliness programme and has tentatively identified the location fronting Jalan Lau Pak Khuan and bordered by Jalan Canning Estate, Jalan Devadason and Hospital Fatimah.

Ipoh Garden project showcase
Ipoh Garden project showcase

This location although small has a mix of activities residential and commercial. These include two fields, a hotel, Courts, a post office, a hospital, several banks and restaurants.

Despite its small area the basic SLR services are lacking. A resident, Augustine Basnayake welcomed the initiative. He reported that the 3 times per week rubbish collection was good. However, the drains were not cleaned nor grass cut per schedule and the garden waste dumps are an eyesore. A quick recce around the neighbourhood by Ipoh Echo confirmed the report by Basnayake and although relatively clean was very shabby in appearance. The commercial establishments too were receptive to the idea.

Ipoh Garden a small locatuion with a mix of activties
Ipoh Garden a small locatuion with a mix of activties

Several customers at the Ipoh Garden Post Office said the uncleared rubbish in the drain surrounding the Post Office would float into the Post Office compound after a heavy rain and this was unpleasant as the Post Office regularly has foreigners using the postal service. A bank officer, not wishing to be named, said the initiative could help instil a cleanliness attitude in its customers to throw their ATM statements in the bins provided, accurately.

Creating a Cleanliness Culture

Ceylyn Tay, the Councillor for Canning
Ceylyn Tay, Councillor for Canning

Ms Noraslinda, the Branch Manager for Courts welcomed the move saying “it will create awareness for a cleanliness culture among our staff, which will be good for the community and benefit our customers.”

Ms Ceylyn Tay, the Councillor for Canning fully agreed with the idea and was willing to work with Dato’ Roshidi to achieve the goal. Also acknowledging that the small area was not the issue but providing good services is and she hoped the project will influence residents to keep their neighbourhood clean at all times.

With the appointment of the garden waste contractor, theoretically, our neighbourhoods should be neat and tidy always. Hence the next few months could see the turning point towards achieving the former title of “the cleanest city in the country”.

From Heritage To Renaissance

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Jalan Lau Ek hing former town houses now trendy pubs
Jalan Lau Ek Ching former town houses now trendy pubs

Almost a year ago IE carried a report on the developments in Ipoh entitled ‘Shining Through: Ipoh’s Heritage Spirit. (IE141/ April 16 2012) in which we described the few developments which were beginning to change and influence the mood about Ipoh town, specifically the  Old and New Town area. Back then we covered Old Town locations such as Sekeping Kong Heng and Lim Ko Pi whose owner, Lim Chai Hock was then repainting seven units of balconied shop-lots at Jalan Sultan Iskandar (Hugh Low Street), the colours of the rainbow. However as we review the amount of new building developments that took place in 2012 a picture is emerging of a rebirth of lifestyle, art and culture in Ipoh, better described as a renaissance.

“Renaissance”: a renewal of life, vigour, interest, rebirth, revival – Dictionary.com

Burps & Giggles artistic decor
Burps & Giggles artistic decor

How did it start?

In the year 2000 the government repealed the Rent Control Act whereby building owners had to rent their premises at a fixed rate. With the removal of the Act the building owners could now rent and sell their premises at market rate.

Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Tahir
Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Tahir

According to Encik Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Tahir, MBI’s Town Planning Officer, buyers subsequently bought into these old shop lots and after some time some buyers began to demolish their properties to realise better returns from their purchases.

Only when old buildings were being pulled down, did it raise the interest of heritage aficionados and the man in the street, concerned that a part of Ipoh’s heritage and image was disappearing, would alert Ipoh Echo each time a building was being torn down.

This subsequently prompted Ipoh City Council to issue a requirement that shop-lot owners could demolish their units but had to maintain the original facade. The result of this directive is that more and more facades are being upgraded with minimal or massive reconstruction behind, to accommodate modern facilities.

UNESCO’s Heritage Listing

Another factor that Tajuddin mentioned that had contributed to the interest was UNESCO’s Heritage listing for Penang and Malacca specifically with property prices soaring three to five times higher than before instead of declining as originally anticipated, especially the “per unit appreciation values contributed to owners rebuilding their lots.”

Year of Dragon: New Buzz, New Openings and New Events in Ipoh

Before 2012 it was common knowledge that Ipoh was frequently busy during weekends and public holidays. With the introduction of the electric train service and printing of the Heritage Trail Maps 1 & 2 it gave day trippers and weekenders something to do in between exploring the sumptuous Ipoh food outlets. 2012 was the year of the Dragon and it was also the year that a fair number of new businesses set up shop.

Hotels, Hotels, and more Hotels

French Hotel Manager Chah. Non-smoking and niche decor
French Hotel Manager Chah. Non-smoking and niche decor

Tune Hotel opened its doors to Ipoh as did local hotelier Seemsoon Hotel, Ipoh Downtown Hotel and not forgetting the heritage hotel Sekeping Kong Heng. Kinta Riverfront Hotel opened with great fanfare while two existing Ipoh Hotels, D Eastern (formerly Eastern Hotel) and French Hotel which opened at the end of 2011 under new management, saw healthy occupancy rates averaging 60% throughout the year. Both hotels declared that their customers consisted of corporate clients and families from local companies, Singaporeans and Europeans and stayed on average three days.

French Hotel Manager, Kenn Chah said that his Hotel has 48 rooms with comfortable and niche decor, is non-smoking and whose customers come for the Ipoh food and cave tours.

However, it was the Riverfront Hotel and Suites that contributed synergy to the tourism market

With its 410 rooms and service apartments all in one location it attracted “large never been done before events” to town, examples of which were the 1800 strong participants of the Kelab Roadrunner Ipoh ((KRI) Cycling Team’s “annual Century Ride event” or even My Dancesport’s International Dance Competition which held its first ever international event in Ipoh. With the largest pillarless ballroom in Ipoh, Kinta Riverfront attracted many world class events such as the first ever full length opera La Traviata.

Night Scene

SOS Dance Club and House Music Club barely a kilometer apart
SOS Dance Club and House Music Club barely a kilometer apart

For the night scene the dance club, S.O.S. opened its doors at the former Grand theatre located on Jalan Sultan Idris Shah while House Music Club opened at the former Borneo Motors, both located on Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, barely a kilometre apart.

As for pubs, what began as one tastefully designed Irish Pub (in Ipoh!) called St Patrick’s along Jalan Raja Ekram (Cowan Street) has now spread to three pubs and a music club at the parallel Jalan Lau Ek Ching millionaire’s row of heritage town houses all tastefully renovated with quaint themed interiors.

Blending Art with Heritage

Sekeping Kong Heng opened their Old Town Art Gallery last September and recently organised an art demonstration that attracted a lot of young people which was a refreshing change.

Burps & Giggles eclectic art
Burps & Giggles eclectic art

However, for more modern and quirky art and which includes wall art, head over to Burps and Giggles Café located at three lots along Jalan Sultan Yussuf immediately behind Sekeping Kong Heng. Besides its interesting menu of burgers and pastries its artistic decor is eclectic and pervades throughout every nook, corner and wall of this old but resurrected shop lot. It’s even possible you might see some of your old furniture decorating the tables and walls (see page 5 Food Musings this issue).

Council Study

Ipoh City Hall, aware of the changes happening in town, will do a study this year. The study, called RKK Pekan Ipoh or Ipoh Town Special Area Programme has been allocated RM890k for the study covering Old and New Town, an area of approximately 3 sq km.

Town Planner Tajuddin said the plan, announced at a recent Council full board meeting, was to preserve the image of Ipoh with guidelines to focus on the details of heritage buildings and urban design covering drainage, materials used and will work towards identifying Ipoh as a Tin Heritage City.

Dr 'Mike' at his future Concubine Lane home stay
Dr ‘Mike’ at his future Concubine Lane home stay

What’s Next

For Dr ‘Mike’ Gurmail Singh, who has invested in several units at Panglima Lane or commonly known as Concubine Lane, he plans to open one of his units at the entrance as a cafe sometime in April and will call it “Concubine Lane”. His other units currently undergoing renovations will become an antique shop and a home-stay though the dates have yet to be confirmed.

Concubine Lane where several of its buildings had collapsed a year ago was provided an allocation of RM200k by the state government to do a study to ensure the structures were safe. To date “RM108k has been used to settle the engineering fees while the balance will be used for the upgrade of the drains, street and back lane” said Mike, adding that “the building owners were glad for the assistance from the government”.

Lim of Lim Ko Pi in his upcoming hotel, opening in June. At back adaptive reuse for a garden.
Lim of Lim Ko Pi in his upcoming hotel, opening in June. At back adaptive reuse for a garden.

Lim Chai Hock, the owner of Lim Ko Pi updated Ipoh Echo that his hotel, which was the former OCBC Bank, will be ready by June this year. Bubbling with enthusiasm as he explained his plans, Lim repeated that Ipoh had so much of its grand history to share and said that OCBC Bank was originally the Bank of Malaya which was co-founded by Towkay Leong Sin Nam in 1920. “My guests who live here will not only relive the era gone by they will experience the past,” added Lim.

Tourism Master Plan Needed

Chan Kok Keong
Chan Kok Keong

Chan Kok Keong, the co-owner of Sekeping Kong Heng, also acknowledged that “Ipoh has it all but we need more tourists. Government and City Hall should work together to aggressively promote the town”.

Tourism is all about living the experience of Ipoh’s glorious past and Old Town can provide that experience. “To achieve and enhance it, the authorities must work together to enforce a neat, tidy and clean environment,” added Chan whose proposal was echoed by other industry players as well.

Chan, the motivator for the art gallery, was of the opinion that a tourism master plan for Ipoh will be a good long-term strategy for success. With so much enthusiasm and optimism is it possible not to move forward. Ipoh Echo will do a review a year from now to find out.

James Gough

Flood Mitigation Projects: What’s Been Done

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By A. Jeyaraj

In Issue 146 (July 1-15, 2012) Ipoh Echo featured a story on massive flooding earlier in the year. With the extended rainy season, residents living in the affected areas in Gugusan Manjoi, Lim Garden, Hock Aun Garden, Tai Le Village and Buntong are worried about the recurrence of floods and have enquired about the progress in flood mitigation projects that were to be executed.

Flood mitigation
February 2012 flood
Flood mitigation - Datuk Abdul Razak Dahalan
Datuk Abdul Razak Dahalan

Paranoia about flooding rises with level of water in the river

Ipoh Echo interviewed Datuk Abdul Razak Dahalan, Director of Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID), Perak on the status of flood mitigation works that are in progress. The following is a report.

Retention Pond in Merdeka Garden

The retention pond costing more than RM3 million will be ready for use this month. The drains leading to the pond have been upgraded and three pumps will be installed.

Flood mitigation
New pump at Jalan Abdul Manap, Lim Garden

This should resolve flooding in an area of about 48 hectares including Merdeka Garden (17.54 hectares), part of Pari Garden and SMK Megat Khas. Merdeka Garden has not flooded for the past two years.

Flood mitigation works in Lim Garden

Two pumps have been installed in the retention pond and a third pump, costing RM50,000 with a flow rate of 10 cusec (283 litres/sec), will be installed by the end of March. A diesel pump has been installed in Jalan Abdul Manap and the residents have been trained on how to operate the pump which they have done a number of times. Maintenance of the pump will be undertaken by MBI.

Flood mitigation
Retention pond in Merdeka Garden

In Lorong Pari, the availability of land opposite is being looked into to build another mini retention pond. This could resolve the flooding in an area of about 14 hectares including around 100 premises and Tarcisian Convent School.

Gugusan Manjoi

Two pumps with a capacity of 10 cusec (283 litres/sec) have been installed at the entrance of Gugusan Manjoi. Residents in Kg. Tengku Hussin Lama would benefit from this. Meanwhile, the location for a retention pond has been identified along Sungai Pari at Klebang. The design work for this has been completed and discussions are being held to acquire the land.

Flood mitigation - Sabramaniam Appadurai
Sabramaniam a/l
Appadurai

Buntong

Sabramaniam a/l Appadurai, Councillor for Buntong, when contacted, informed Ipoh Echo that new monsoon drains have been constructed In Buntong Jaya and other flood prone areas. The flooding problems for the past twenty five years appear to have been solved.

On the Subject of Rivers

Sungai Pinji, cannot be deepened or widened which would have been a simpler solution. Instead, the location for a retention pond has been identified at Batu 8 Tambun. Here, an unused pond can be upgraded and design work and acquisition of land is in progress.

Flood mitigation
Pumps at entrance to Gugusan Manjoi

Sungai Pari, similarly cannot be deepened or widened. During the rainy season the river is flowing at its maximum capacity and cannot take any further loading. The state government has been advised that all new developments upstream must provide their own retention ponds and not discharge directly into the river.

Location for a retention pond for Sg Pari has been identified near Gunung Lang. Meanwhile, Razak said that the maintenance crew is regularly inspecting the condition of the flap gates on Sg. Pari. Debris stuck between the flap and pipe would prevent a tight close and cause backflow. Also part of the mitigation project involves replacing the fallen concrete slabs on either side of the river with stones.

Flood mitigation
Construction of bridge at Jalan Manjoi

Drains and Low Deck Bridges

Part of the flooding problem comes from blocked and under sized drains. To mitigate this, a master drainage plan for Ipoh has been prepared which includes the flood prone areas as well. As part of this master plan, drains are being regularly upgraded when funds are available.

The low deck bridge along Jalan Menteri in Kampung Manjoi is being upgraded at a cost of RM4 million and the job is expected to be completed by May this year.

MBI has identified all the bridges that need to be upgraded and have requested for funding under the 10th Malaysia Plan. These will be upgraded as soon as money is available.

Early Warning System

When Ipoh Echo enquired whether an early warning system for flooding can be implemented, Razak said that it was not possible. He said that the rainfall is localised and many surveillance points must be installed therefore requiring a very sophisticated system. Sungai Pari is a small river and water flows from the catchment area to residential areas in a short time.

Flood mitigation
Fallen concrete slabs

Lim Garden Residents Committee

The secretary of the Lim Garden Residents’ Committee, K. Sagadevan, has voiced a number of concerns. Owing to the current unpredictability of weather more complications have arisen. Nowadays even during a short heavy shower, the drains overflow and the compounds of houses and fields become flooded.

During a recent heavy rainfall, a number of houses in Lim Garden were flooded because the pumps in the retention pond were started late by the attendants. The committee feels that residents must be trained to operate the pumps to ensure that the water is at the minimum level in the pond in order to enable rainwater from the drains to flow into it. As the main cause of flooding of Jalan Muhibbah and Jalan Abdul Manap is backflow of water from Taman Idris, the water must be routed to the new retention pond in Merdeka Garden.

The toe drain along river bund from Jalan Raja to Jalan Abdul Manap must be upgraded so that backflow water can run to the pump in Jalan Abdul Manap instead of flowing into Jalan Muhibbah, often causing flooding.

Let us hope that these measures would be effective in preventing flooding and that the residents can live in peace.