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Pilot Project On Organic Farming For Ipoh Students



Students of a number of secondary schools in Ipoh are being introduced to organic farming, composting and environmental protection under a pilot project of the Ipoh Rotary Club. It is being sponsored by the CIMB Bank Foundation.

The project will be held in three stages. Stage one – is to visit an organic farm, stage two – is a seminar conducted by trained personnel on the technical aspects of organic farming, and stage three – on setting up the farm.

According to the project’s chairman Dr. Tan Teong Heong, the aim is to educate the students on sustainable agro-free farming using canteen green wastes and organic compost.

The techniques of composting and environmental preservation and protection will also be taught. He says it is one of the club’s community service projects.

The first school to participate in the project is SMK Raja Perempuan Ipoh. About 1,200 students from the school are expected to benefit from it.

Recently about 50 students from SMK Raja Perempuan went on a field trip to an organic farm, Green Wish Vege Garden in Chenderiang. They were accompanied by Ipoh Rotary Club’s president Mr. Wu Chee Thutt, CIMB’s area retail manager Encik Mohammad Harith Abdullah and representatives from the school.

On arrival, they were briefed by the farm owner, Mr. Kenny Ng. It was followed with a tour of the farm and a lecture about composting, starting with harvesting IMO (Indigenous Micro-Organism) from the forest with cooked brown rice and ending in the final compost mixing with cow-dung or goat-dung.              

After a hearty vegetarian lunch, the group left the farm and visited a nearby Orang Asli Settlement to distribute some food, used clothing and shoes before returning to the city.



Thunderous Welcome



The thunderous beats of the 24-Chinese season drum greeted a delegation from SMK Raja Permaisuri Bainun on arrival at the SMJK Yuk Choy in Ipoh on November 10th. The drummers were from the school’s Ipoh Chin Woo Club.

Yuk Choy was playing host to 25 students from SMK Raja Permaisuri Bainun under the Education Ministry’s Student Integration Plan for Unity (RIMUP) programme.

The students from both schools, who were drawn from various backgrounds, were integrated through sport, cultural events and community based activities.

Puan Arbayah Daud, secretary of Raja Permaisuri Bainun RIMUP, said it was an impressive welcome accorded to them by the teachers and students of Yuk Choy.

The programme was officiated by the Principal of SMJK Yuk Choy, Capt. Chan Weng Kwai. “Under 1Malaysia concept, the programme is for our students to interact and gain a better understanding among various races in our country”, he said.

Capt. Chan added that the bond between the students from both schools had since grown stronger.  Besides having a football coaching clinic conducted by Perak State Football Association, students from both schools were hosted to a lunch in the school hall and entertained with music from Chinese musical instruments by SMJK Yuk Choy Chinese Musical Club.

The Roots



The rivers that cascade down from the Main Range are slowly but surely attracting the right crowd of conservationists.

Over at Gopeng along the Kampar River there are already  three eco-resort camps. And now starting in December the Kinta River will have its first eco-resort.

Called ‘The Roots’ it is located 12 km away from Ipoh at Tanjung Rambutan on the banks of the Kinta River.

The resort’s owners, Bridget Hedderman and Peter Witzigmann, both dedicated conservationists developed the resort with minimum impact to the surrounding environment.

The accommodation at The Roots features four tree-top suites built on stilts right on the banks of the Kinta River. They are designed around the trees whereby the tree branches are a unique feature of the interior. The balcony overlooks the river and features a Jacuzzi with which to relax and take in the scenic rain forest.

In the garden by the river is a long bar with gazebos and barbeque pits next to them. There is also a swimming pool which is filled with filtered river water.

The Roots is part owned by Ecofieldtrips Pte Ltd of Singapore, a 10-year old company devoted to teaching young people about the environment by taking them on field trips.

When Bridget, a marine biologist and Ecofieldtrips Director, first saw this place in May this year, she was fascinated by its scenic beauty. “I immediately knew that this place would be ideal for my students”, she said. True to her vision Roots was ready within 6 months.

She was introduced to the place by her partner Peter. Bridget, who also runs a resort at Tioman Island with Peter, says “The Roots is a better resort because it has so much more environmental resources to offer her students”.

“Perak” exclaimed Bridget, “has so much to offer. You have the limestone hills with its impressive cave systems, Orang Asli communities, white-water rafting and the Matang mangrove swamps. At Pangkor Island we can teach about marine biology”.

“Even Ipoh town with both its elegant and decrepit shop houses and colonial mansions can make for a great lesson for history students to learn about this once thriving city of tin. This place is an unmatched combination of adventure, history, culture and nature exploration, an unforgettable educational experience”, she enthused.

Officiating at the opening of the resort was State Assemblyman for Hulu Kinta, Dato’ Rusnah Kassim who said that she was impressed with the eco-resort, “I am so happy that we have a resort here in Tanjung Rambutan. At least now we have another icon that we can be associated with”.

With the opening of the resort it appears that Ipoh with its surrounding attractions is finally getting the recognition that has eluded it for so long. Well better late than never.


The Roots, Batu 10½ Mile, Jalan Chemor, 31250 Tanjong Rambutan, Perak

Tel.: 05-5335411

Email: the rootsmalaysia@gmail.com

Web: www.throots.com.my

Muay Thai




If you like to punch, kick and box your stress away, Muay Thai may just be your sport.

According to Fitness instructor and martial arts expert, Shum Chiew Mun, “When you train in Muay Thai, there’s little time to think about anything else”.

Shum is an avid martial arts enthusiast trained and mastered in various self defense fields including Tak Kwan Do, Muay Thai, kickboxing and Eskrima, a form of Filipino martial arts.

He describes Muay Thai as the simplest and most straightforward form of self defense. 

“There are not a lot of steps to remember, as opposed to Tae Kwan Do or Karate. It’s very freestyle,” said the 38-year-old.

Discovering Muay Thai five years ago, Shum first trained with a Malaysian Muay Thai expert in Kuala Lumpur before heading to Thailand himself to be properly ordained in the art. He spends two weeks in Thailand, three times a year to refresh and update his Muay Thai training.

“We used to run between 5 and 10 km, training 6 hours a day,” said Shum of his Thailand experience.

Upon his return to Malaysia, Shum felt a need to promote the sport, especially in Ipoh. “Muay Thai training is no nonsense. It’s all about training and training hard,” said Shum.

However Shum is quick to defend the sport, “It’s very practical and flexible.  If you put in the work it’s also a great weight loss method.”

“I always tell my students not to force themselves to train. You have to love and enjoy it, only then will you see results.”

For those who may be interested in the sport as a form of workout instead of self defense, Shum has designed a less strenuous fitness plan.

“I can modify the training to suit the client’s needs,” said Shum amidst his students sparring away at each other, of which some are women, even a 48 year old housewife.

When asked the reason behind his passion Shum had few words to say.

 “I was born to be a martial artist,” said Shum before naming his father’s love for karate and Bruce Lee movies as big influences.

The Tae Kwan Do black belt of the third degree teaches Muay Thai in a few places, and you may find him at the Martial Arts and Fitness Academy in Bandar Baru Tambun between 8 and 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Ista Kyra Sharmugam

Rhythm in the Gym



Have you been keeping a secret wish of becoming a graceful gymnastic star? Your wish just might come true without stepping a foot out of Ipoh.

Vera Andreeva, a Russian rhythmic gymnast coach, vouches for the physical and health benefits that come with the sport for girls of all ages, shapes and sizes.

According to Vera there is more to the sport than extreme bends and contortions. “Rhythmic gymnastics training gives a girl poise, grace as well as good motion reflexes.” Vera’s burning passion for the sport is evident in the way she describes it as an art in itself. “The girls learn to tell a story with their body, using nuances of dance, flexibility as well as emotions.”

The 31-year old has been coaching our Ipoh girls since 2003. Trained in rhythmic gymnastics since she was just eight years old, Vera has seen her glory days in the Russian National Team. “It is elements of ballet, theatre and music rolled into one that makes the classes fun for the girls as well develop their sense of discipline and creativity.” Currently Vera conducts lessons in the gymnasium opposite the Sungai Senam Police station.

“It’s not always about high-performance training, although it would be great to discover potential talents”, said Vera. Some may find rhythmic gymnastics rather daunting; especially the way the girls twist and bend their bodies, however, Vera assures that training is conducted gradually and not forced upon the students immediately. “It’s a great way to maintain health and have some fun at the same time.”

 Those who want to make their secret dreams come true can visit Vera during lessons at the Diving and Rhythmic sports gymnasium just behind the DBI Sports Complex. Classes begin at 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays

The silent and gagged force



The power tussles in Perak mean the Orang Asli are again ignored.


It is not that they haven’t asked for help. They have. But not many bothered to listen.I mean no disrespect to anyone in the recent Kampar tragedy, but there are some for whom a safe crossing across the river is a daily and dangerous struggle.

‘They’ are the forgotten few. Decades ago, they helped us rid the country of communists. During peacetime, they collected valuable jungle produce for our consumption. We once found them curious objects, worthy of anthropological study. Today, they are conveniently used to inflate numbers in proselytization. In an earlier era, they were hunted for slavery. Sadly, they are still hounded. Until recently, they had a ‘voice’. Who are they? They are the Orang Asli of Perak.

In Perak, the Orang Asli live in 248 villages, in the forest fringes or the interior. Half these communities are moderately developed; the rest, remain undeveloped. Malaysia’s Orang Asli population, around 147,000 (2003), has a high poverty rate (80%) with a sizeable (35%) hardcore poor. The literacy rate is low (43%), the life expectancy is only 53 years and their infant mortality rate is high.

True Malaysians

They are the true, original Malaysians but don’t enjoy all the benefits, opportunities and incentives. We take for granted everyday things like clean running water and electricity. Not them. Besides, they have little or no access to opportunities in health, education, infrastructure, skills training and business.

They are considered an inconvenience. Only a few, like the nomadic Jahai and Batek, take advantage of the seasonal forest bounties for their livelihood. When it suits the authorities, the Orang Asli are moved on – first, their ancestral lands are confiscated; second, they are resettled. Then, when someone, or some company strikes a lucrative land deal, in road building, logging, mining or a housing project, they are again shoved. That the Orang Asli are nomadic is only an Urban Myth.

Conversion Targets

Each different group has its own language, culture, and occupation. Coastal Orang Asli are mainly fishermen; those living in forested areas, practice hill paddy cultivation, hunting, fishing and gathering. We are repulsed that they practice animism. Since the mid-1800s, they have been targeted by the Catholics, the Methodists, the Bahais and lately, the Muslims. Missionaries, regardless of the cloak worn, and whichever book of God they subscribe to, consider the Orang Asli as lost souls.

Recently, Kelantan enticed its Muslim preachers with RM10,000 to marry an Orang Asli woman, in efforts to propagate Islam. This idea was first launched in 2006 because of dissatisfaction with the conversion rate. Interestingly, the offer included free accommodation, a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a fixed monthly allowance of RM1,000.

This financial inducement is morally wrong and objectionable. How does one differentiate between the sincere attraction for the religion or otherwise? What will stop the proliferation of bogus preachers? This marriage of convenience is not made-in-heaven and should the Orang Asli spouse wish to abandon Islam, for whatever reason, she will find it an impossibility.

Why not leave them alone? We have grabbed their lands, denied them their rightful place in society, withheld their social and political dues, removed their identity, culture and language, and now we want to own their souls too? We transplant them into unfamiliar surroundings, then conveniently blame them for giving in to vice, violence and drugs.

Perak’s Efforts Must be Revived

Fortunately, Perak is free of such underhand, tainted bribes.

In 2008, Pakatan Rakyat formed the Orang Asli Taskforce. However, the power tussles in Perak mean the Orang Asli are once again ignored. Revive this Taskforce. Seriously empower them. Engage them. Encourage them in decision-making. Return their dignity. And reinstate their distinctive identity. It is time we acted with humility, rather than drag them into obscurity.

Mariam Mokhtar

Art Déco buildings?


Does Ipoh have Art Décor buildings? Most certainly.


The architectural style that is the Lido and Cathay cinemas along Cockman Street are fine examples; the others being the Ruby theatre on Anderson Road and the Odeon cinema along Brewster Road.

Then there is the huge ‘complex’ that was the Grand Cinema owned by Shaw Brothers at the junction of Brewster and Cowan Street which featured a tall signboard advertising the movies being shown by the various Shaw cinemas in town. The ‘complex’ also housed the Jubilee Cabaret, a popular dance spot and the Jubilee Park which offered amusement items from games of chance and a merry-go-round to regular boxing matches.


Along Laksamana Road is the Lam Loo King building which housed the Celestial Hall (remember Perak Emporium?) which was also a dance hall.

Then there were the row of shop houses at Fair Park that was recently demolished with tragic results.

All of these buildings were designed by the same Danish architect B.M. Iversen who came to Malaya in 1928.  Iversen initially worked in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore but subsequently settled in Batu Gajah and maintained an office in Ipoh.

Recently his daughter Ruth, on one of her regular return visits, was invited by the Perak Heritage Society to deliver a talk about her father’s life and his work.

Ruth described her father as one who was passionate about his work. “He loved to draw and would do so after work while listening to classical music.”

Her talk included slides of her father’s diary which featured drawn images of their life then. Viewing that graphic diary one could feel the joy with which it was penned.

Berthold Iversen, during his forty years in Malaysia, designed many landmark buildings from Singapore to Ipoh. The Federal House in KL, designed by Iversen, was the winning selection as part of an architectural competition in 1951. Federal House was so named as it housed the government offices of the federated administration as well as the Post Office Savings Bank and the then Radio Malaya.


Iversen had done so much work in Ipoh from cinemas to houses that his designs are still around despite many having been destroyed or torn down to make way for new developments. The Ipoh Swimming Club, MCA building along Brewster Road and the Geological Survey Department building along Tiger Lane are still around.

All of his later works are a huge contrast from his earlier art déco designs: probably a reflection of his maturing process. Leaving behind such a wonderful legacy, is it any wonder then that Ruth calls Ipoh her second home.


International Orchid Festival 2009



Clearwater Sanctuary Golf Resort, Batu Gajah, hosted the International Orchid Festival 2009 recently. The floral fest attracted 29 orchid enthusiasts from all over the country including some from Taiwan and Ecuador. A total of 327 orchid varieties were on show for the judges to decide. They were classed under different categories. Winner of the open category was Mr. Sin Chan Wah with his Blc. Keowee. His other entry, Bulbophyllum Annandalei, took second prize. In the best species category, the title went to Mr. Tan Eng Tiek. Runner-up was Mr. Cha Chuan Tuck. To add a touch of festivity to the atmosphere additional activities were held simultaneously over the two-day period. Among them were a colouring and a flower arrangement competition. Over 500 visitors had a fun-filled day in the sun.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah



Recommendations to move people to change the way they choose political parties…READ MORE

Perak Academy recently invited Kelantan Prince and veteran UMNO politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to speak at it’s Perak Lectures Series.
“Punctuality is the politeness of Kings” and in true royal style Ku Li, as he is more fondly addressed, arrived sharp on time at 8 p.m.
After being greeted by the guests upon his arrival, Tengku Razaleigh went over to the table of his old teacher from Anderson School, Dato’ Seri N.S. Selvamani to greet him before sitting at his own table.
Tengku Razaleigh’s political career began in the 60s. In the 1969 election he won the Kelantan Barat parliamentary seat and was appointed UMNO Vice President in 1975. He was also Malaysia’s Finance Minister during the time of Prime Minister Hussein Onn.

In the late 80s, Razaleigh, after a dispute with Dr Mahathir, started his own party called Semangat 46 or the Spirit of 46, 46 being the year that UMNO was formed. Interestingly Semangat 46 did forge an alliance with opposition parties DAP and PAS and others for the 8th Malaysia General Election in 1990. Semangat 46 lost and was subsequently disbanded in 1996 with Razaleigh rejoining UMNO.
Tengku Razaleigh is a true veteran politician, a product from the old colonial times, who had the opportunity of political experience from the old guard under Tunku Abdul Rahman.

The topic of his talk that night was ‘Malaysia: The Challenge of the Present’. In his speech, Razaleigh said that Constitutional Democracy as we knew it has strayed from its original intent. “Democracy is not a ready made political system once we have written a constitution…the Perak constitutional crisis is a forewarning and Malaysians are watching the yet unfinished journey in Perak.”
He averred that ‘national unity’ needs to be based on the ideals of the Rukun Negara and proposed 10 principles that political parties should aspire to have.

All political parties are required to include in their constitutional objectives the equality of citizenship as provided for in the Federal Constitution.

An economic and political policy that political parties propagate must not discriminate against any citizen.
All parties shall include and uphold constitutional democracy and the separation of powers as a fundamental principle.

It shall be the duty of all political parties to adhere to the objectives of public service and refrain from involvement in business, and ensure the separation of business from political parties.
It shall be the duty of all political parties to ensure and respect the independence of the judiciary and the judicial process.
All parties shall ensure that the party election system will adhere to the highest standards of conduct, and also ensure that the elections are free of corrupt practices. Legislation should be considered to provide funding of political parties.

It shall be the duty of all parties to ensure that all political dialogues and statements will not create racial or religious animosity.
All parties undertake not to use racial and communal agitation as political policies.

To remove and eradicate all barriers that hinder national unity and Malaysian identity.
To uphold the Federal and State Constitu-tions and its democratic intent and spirit, the Rule of Law, the fundamental liberties as enshrined in Part II of the Malaysian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Interestingly, Razaleigh states that these 10 recommendations are not meant for the leaders. “We can’t change the leaders and it is difficult to sell ideas to them. I have tried before with UMNO. These recommendations are to move the people to change the way they choose their political parties. We made a change in 2008 and we can do it again before 2013. We don’t have to wait for the next GE.”
“Any party pursuing their objectives along racial lines should not be supported. We should get together to do something as we are a greater number”, he continued.

When questioned why he was still an Umno member, Tengku Razaleigh replied that UMNO had done a lot for the country. The UMNO leaders of the past like Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Dr Ismail, had always put the people first. Unfortunately it is not followed by today’s leaders who must buck up and behave.

Bearing in mind that the majority of the populace of Perak had voted for the opposition, the views expressed by Tengku Razaleigh, a veteran UMNO politician, was an assurance that there were some in UMNO that genuinely viewed Malaysia as a multi-ethnic country.
Hence based on what Tengku Razaleigh has stated it is now up to the Rakyat, to change the perception of the rest of its members.

A Flying Start


A FLYING START- From Daydreamer to King of the Skies


It is easy for adults to misconstrue the actions of their children. When Nik Amir Azafiq was gazing at the sky amid hopes of becoming a pilot, he was admonished for being a daydreamer…

He is like every other teenager. PlayStation and partying are in, but homework and household-chores are not. You know he’s going out when the whole house smells like a perfume factory, and his hair assumes that tousled spiky appearance which looks unkempt but has taken him the best part of two hours to perfect.

His mother marvels at his creativity in the excuses to ponteng sekolah. If only he could channel this imagination in his essay writing, she laments. He easily lists the top three songs in the music charts or recall with accuracy the scene in a particular movie or what cheats to use, to win any PlaySation game. Such was his memory that she wished he could regurgitate facts for his subjects in a similar capacity.

Trying Time for Family

So why did he hate school? Was it his teachers? The extra-large classes? Was he bullied? Returning from school, he’d simply flop onto the sofa, watch television, snack endlessly. He might play football or cycle round the block. Most times, he’d simply stare at the sky.

Four years ago, this boy’s mother was a figure of desperation. She transferred him to a private school. He was asked to audition for the school-band because of his interest in music. He excelled on the sports field. His grades improved but the cost of private education was a burden – financially, emotionally and physically. Finally, he returned to his former school.

An endless round of private tuition was organized. He passed his PMR. When his school grades slid, his parents became frantic. The SPM examinations were approaching. Even the tutor was despondent.

It was a trying time for the whole family. He was shouted at. “Lazy.” “Useless.” “Hopeless.” “Stop looking at the clouds.” “If you were a girl, I’d marry you off.” These were hurled at him. Nerves were on edge and relations were scarred.

Turning Point

A chance visit to the east coast, by air, with his father marked the turning point. He put more effort into his work. His parents prayed for the best. His tutor was hopeful.

The day of reckoning arrived. Yes, he had passed. His aim? To join a flying school.

More surprises were in store. His grandparents offered to contribute their savings towards the fees. The parents applied for additional funding. Finally he was accepted at the next intake of cadet pilots. That was two years ago.

Miraculous Transformation

For this boy from Sitiawan, the transformation was miraculous. Where he previously lacked concentration in his studies, he was now entirely focused. Gone was the schoolboy slouch, the baggy shorts, t-shirt and slippers. Parade drills in full uniform every morning improved posture and bearing. He was punctual and disciplined. His written work and assignments were handed promptly to the satisfaction of his lecturers. He diligently completed his two hundred flying hours. He was safety conscious and kept off cigarettes and drugs. Outdoor games and activities were a joy and welcome distraction from the very intense requirements of his course. His only complaint was that mess-food was monotonous and stodgy. He got on well with the other cadets. They were on best behaviour when they ventured into town. Being at flying school was like a badge of honour for them.

Cherished Wings

Last August, and four years from when his mother related her harrowing story of her first-born son, this boy finally received his cherished wings and Commercial Pilot’s Licence from HM Aerospace FLying School in Langkawi. It was a very emotional time. He had achieved and accomplished much.

It is easy for adults to misconstrue the actions of their children. When this boy was gazing at the sky amid hopes of becoming a pilot, he was admonished for being a daydreamer.

Whilst his father slept soundly in his seat on the way to their east-coast break, this boy had, with quiet persistence, questioned the crew about flying. He received an invitation to the cockpit. He had marvelled at the scenery, the freedom and the dedication of the pilots. His mind was set. He was going to be a pilot.

There must be hundreds of children like this boy who may skip classes, seem demotivated and lacking in ambition, but actually, whose ideals and aspirations lie undiscovered, untapped and unleashed.

Industry Responsibilty

More people in industry should give talks in our secondary schools about their professions. Many overseas schools set aside a session every fortnight for such an exercise. The professionals come from various disciplines – engineers (chemical, mechanical, civil, petroleum, electrical, marine), doctors, architects, city/traffic/town planners, nurses, surveyors, lawyers, film directors, fashion designers, veterinary doctors, dentists, graphic artists, advertising people, horticulturists, the armed forces. All it takes is a short talk and a chance to field questions. Don’t tell me we lack interesting professions and dedicated professionals to inspire and enlighten our youth?

I may be wrong but my research tells me that only some schools currently do this, but it is an optional after school activity, comprising visits to universities or exhibitions.

I think it best if the person whose job is highlighted, comes to the school, rather than the other way around. From there, a follow up visit to the factory, the hangar, the hospital, the laboratory or the site location of that particular profession could be arranged, should interest in that line of work be shown.

Work despite recession

This boy received his Commercial Pilot’s Licence last August, during a recession hit world with a scarcity of job opportunities. However, I am pleased to report that he has successfully managed to secure employment with AirAsia as a trainee pilot.

Emboldened by this news, I have also been in touch with both the Ipoh and Langkawi flying schools and they are only too pleased to show potential students around their flying schools.

I understand that during Ramadhan, a helicopter firm, Eurocopters (M) Sdn Bhd had a breaking of fast, in their hangar, for some orphans. It was a great time for the children to see the helicopters up close, be lectured on helicopters and the career of a pilot, in the hope that they may one day, aspire to be one.

Ipoh Firms to be Proactive

So, why can’t firms in Ipoh be more proactive like this and why can’t more schools take the initiative and invite people with interesting jobs to give talks? After all it is our children who will benefit and who knows, maybe some will excel in their chosen profession, and later return to their alma mater to further inspire the children of the future.