Tag Archives: Heritage

‘God’s Little Acre’

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They are called cemeteries or graveyards – places where dead people are buried, and they would be the most uncommon stop. Well, not for my friends and me. During the past weekend, we spent a good hour exploring one. We strolled freely at this well-kept ‘God’s Little Acre’, in Batu Gajah. I was told that this cemetery has been a part of the Anglican Holy Trinity Church since the mid 1880s.

It may not be like the latest memorial parks with beautiful landscapes, but it is well-worth a visit. Buried here are 116 planters, police officers, miners and civilians, killed in the Emergency (1948-1960). We also found the oldest grave dated 1886, soon after the town of Batu Gajah was created as the Administrative Centre of Kinta Valley.

In 1980, retired Superintendent of Police, Dato’ R. Thambipillay started the tradition of the annual commemorative ceremony. The ceremony is a solemn occasion. It is attended by foreign dignitaries representing the countries of those who gave their lives so that we could live. The ceremony takes place on the second Saturday of June. On this day, surviving old-timers return to honour their colleagues and friends.

As we strolled, we spotted the graves of some famous personalities of Perak like Alma Baker, Cecil Rae, Labrooy and other FMS servicemen. Here, too, lies planter Donald Baxter, the son-in-law of the Danish architect, B.M. Iversen. Baxter was killed in a salary heist in 1964 somewhere near Tanjung Tualang. His stone is one of a kind, a block of marble selected by his wife, Ruth and Iversen himself. It can be easily identified. (Source: Law Siak Hong, Perak Heritage Society.)

To get to the cemetery, drive under the archway facing the main building of the Batu Gajah Hospital, you will pass the Jail and the Anglican Church. Go straight to the end of the road. You can’t miss it. Cemeteries are our heritage so please visitors, be respectful when you are here in the place of the “unseen residents”.

The heritage charms and the rich stories locked in ‘God’s Little Acre’ could be turned into a tourism spot.

S. Sundralingam

Promoting Kellie’s Castle at Expense of Other Heritage Icons

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By Jerry Francis

I am baffled by the RM5 million allocation given under the 10th Malaysia Plan to further promote Kellie’s Castle near Batu Gajah. What is Kellie’s Castle? In my view, it is just an unfinished project of a Scottish planter William Kellie Smith’s dream to live like a “White Maharajah”. And what has the building, which was to replicate the British palaces in India to do with our culture and heritage? It does not even have any national historical significance to justify a large allocation. If ever such a failed private project is to be preserved and promoted, it should be funded by Kellie’s own relatives or a private foundation, not by our taxpayers. After all, what could we hope to achieve by promoting it? It would merely keep the memory of a foreigner and his folly alive for generations.

Kellie's Castle

Is Perak so short of tourist attractions that it needs to allocate funds periodically to certain projects? If it is for tourism development, the substantial amount of funds spent on Kellie’s Castle in the past would have been sufficient if it had been properly maintained. This recent allocation for further renovation works, including adding on decorative designs to the interior and furniture resembling those in British castles, only shows that the state and federal governments have got their priorities wrong. An abandoned building should be retained in its original state. Otherwise why not complete the building to its intended grandeur.

In comparison to Kellie’s Castle, the Rumah Besar Rajah Bilah located in the century-old pioneer mining town of Papan deserves more attention. It has all the cultural and historical significance, yet no funds are available to spruce it up. There are also other valuable sites in the state that need attention and with the availability of funds, they too can become tourist attractions.

Tin Dredge "TT5", Tg Tualang

I believe the biggest challenge confronting all Malaysians, particularly Perakeans, is the need to preserve the last of the tin dredge in the country located between Batu Gajah and Tanjung Tualang, which I have been advocating for the last two decades. The success towards preserving this heritage icon would be a big step forward.

Therefore, a nationwide campaign needs to be launched to get everyone involved in it. Perhaps, Pos Malaysia too could come up with a postage stamp depicting the dredge to create awareness throughout the nation for its preservation.

The dredge, known as “TT5”, was designed and built in England in 1938. It was one of about 30 tin dredges that operated like giant prehistoric creatures grazing on the plain of the Kinta Valley, which was then the largest alluvial tin deposit region in the world.

Syabas! Malaysian Chamber of Mines for taking the initiative to launch the “Save The Dredge” campaign which raised RM1.4 million to enable the dredge to be open to the public next year. Of course, the amount raised through the campaign is insufficient to meet the full cost of refurbishment, installation of safety measures and infrastructure which is estimated to cost about RM5 million.

Preserving the tin dredge at the location alone is not enough to draw crowds. There must be other attractions beside the dredge to make it worthwhile for visitors. Replicas of various methods of tin mining could be built around it, making the location a comprehensive tin mining museum with the dredge as the central attraction. At night the giant mechanical structure could be gaily decorated with coloured lights and spotlights to transform it into a scenic “floating” structure. Then visiting the complex can be both exciting and memorable, apart from being educational. It will also boost our promotion of a “Tin Heritage Trail” in memory of the glorious tin mining industry which had been the second largest economy of the country.

In so doing, we are not only preserving a heritage, but also turning it into a major tourist attraction in the state. Various tourists’ related activities, such as restaurants and souvenir shops, could also be set up to provide business opportunities to the locals. A reasonable fee can then be imposed on those just visiting or a surcharge on those patronising the restaurants and the proceeds to go towards the upkeep of the complex.

Well, I can imagine and picture its success. Can those entrusted with the responsibilities of preserving heritage and promoting tourism picture it, too? However, it saddens me to see that the state and federal governments have not shown much interest in preserving the dredge despite its great potential.

Recently, there has been talk about preserving heritage sites in the Kinta Valley, particularly around Ipoh. Dialogues and discussions were held, but so far nothing concrete has been achieved. Even the idea of setting up a state agency or governing body on heritage is in doubt. This further subscribes to my view, that the authorities are not serious towards preserving heritage.

“Repair Or Demolish” Order, A Setback For Heritage Efforts

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By Jerry Francis

Once again it took a near disastrous incident for people to take note and begin to seriously discuss the critical issues involved. Take the case of the collapse of two shop lots along Panglima Lane a fortnight ago. This incident had the authorities immediately give a stern warning to the owners – repair or demolish their buildings.

This is exactly what the city council should have done earlier to ensure all old buildings in the city are safe. It should have directed the owners of such buildings to carry out repairs before the condition worsened. Why wait till the buildings collapse? Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident.

This was what I had feared when I drew attention to a fire-damaged building, which had been left to deteriorate for a further two years, at the junction of Jalan Sultan Idris Shah and Jalan Raja Musa Aziz as being an eyesore and a danger to motorists and passers-by.

Well, I am not going to indulge in “I told you so”. I hope the state government and the city council will now seriously look into the problem of existing dilapidated buildings, not only in Panglima Lane, but also around the old city centre. That the owners of such proprieties cannot be traced is no excuse.

Following the Panglima incident, the state government had without hesitance, issued a 14-day notice under the Street, Drainage and Building Act to the owners of the buildings. According to State Local Government Committee chairman Dato’ Dr. Mah Hang Soon, the State Works Department has classified seven of the 24 units in the lane as “deemed dangerous”. “The owners must take steps to repair or demolish the units within the 14-day period,” he added.

The State Tourism Committee chairman Dato’ Hamidah Osman said that the buildings were not gazetted under heritage due to their dilapidated condition. “When it comes to safety there will be no compromise, although Ipoh is aiming to be listed as a heritage city under UNESCO,” she said.

Well said, Hamidah! Let’s hope there will be a solution to the problem without losing an important heritage site. Demolishing the buildings is the easiest way to deal with the problem, but it will be at the cost of losing more of the city’s heritage.

Talk about preserving Panglima or Concubine Lane, which was notorious for opium and gambling activities and where the Chinese tycoons kept their mistresses in the early days of mining in the Kinta Valley, has been going on for a long time.

As a local businessman remarked, at least three state executive councillors in-charge of tourism had in the last decade visited Panglima Lane and had shown their keenness to help preserve it. “It had been all talk, talk, talk, but no action,” he commented.

The state government, not wanting to set a precedent, is not keen on assisting the owners with funds to help them repair and preserve their buildings as they are private properties. But the owners argued that preserving the heritage buildings would bring in tourists.

If the authorities are serious about preserving heritage in the city, it needs to work something out to induce the owners to repair the buildings as some of them cannot afford to come up with the funds. The authorities could consider some form of “incentives”, including the waiver of assessment fees and quit rent for a limited period of time, which would not commit any taxpayers’ money.

The “repair or demolish” ultimatum given to the owners of the affected buildings in Panglima Lane appears to have been made in haste. It may be taken by the owners as a green-light from the state government to demolish their heritage buildings. With lack of funding for the repairs, the only option for owners is to demolish their buildings and it will be a pity that we will lose another heritage site.

The only visible development so far is an allocation from the state government to pave the lane. The works have been delayed following the collapse of the buildings.

However, even the proposed renovation of the lane is against the wishes of the residents, who expressed the fear that it would modernise the lane and steal its heritage value forever.

Workshop on Heritage and Dilapidated Ipoh Buildings

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Another pre-war building bites the dust!

MBI has identified a total of 170 buildings along the Heritage Trail covering Old Town and New Town to be included in the application for UNESCO World Heritage Listing. Of these, 36 are permanent heritage buildings which has been included in the structure plan.
Mayor Roshidi stated that a meeting was held in mid August and a committee has been set up to identify Heritage and Dangerous buildings in town. The committee has identified 63 ‘Dangerous’ buildings in Ipoh.

Subsequently a workshop will be organized by the Buildings Department this year involving the related technical departments to determine how best to handle the preservation of buildings of heritage and historical value and how to deal with dilapidated buildings in Ipoh.
In the interim, before the workshop is held, the Departments of Planning, Buildings and Enforcement will enforce and comply with the requirements regarding buildings of heritage and historical value.

JAG

Jalan Panglima

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Behind The Street Names

By Yeun Yin Fong

Which Street?

Jalan Panglima (one of the streets in the middle of Old Town)

Who was Panglima?

Datoh Panglima Kinta Muhammad Yusuff was the territorial chief of Kinta. He was the tenth Datoh Panglima Kinta. Datoh Panglima Kinta Muhammad Yusuff transformed Ipoh from a small village into the largest town in Kinta Valley throughout his career from 1884 until his death in 1903.

He left a great legacy of his life in Ipoh by erecting the Panglima Mosque, by the river.

Mohd Eusoff bin Mohd. Yusuff was born in Ipoh in 1897. He received his early education in Anderson School (Ipoh). He had served as an assistant collector of land revenue in Kinta, an Ipoh magistrate and the assistant commissioner for co-operative development. He was also installed as the fourteenth Datoh Panglima Kinta in 1951.

Mohd Eusoff was closely involved with the administration of Ipoh and Perak in various capacities, such as, Perak State Council member in 1952 and a member of Ipoh Town Board in 1953. Besides that, he was the President of the All-Malaya Muslim Missionary Society and was nominated as the first representative of the Orang Asli in the Malayan government. By shunning politics, he devoted himself into public service organisations, of which he held no less than 56 appointments by the time of his death, just before Merdeka (Independence) in August 1957.

Did You Know?

Mohd Eusoff was the first Malay to be made President of the Ipoh Rotary Club and elected District Governor of Rotary International, District 330, for 1951/52.

Muzium Gopeng Launches Its Corporate Logo

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Unveiling the Corporate Logo

Muzium Gopeng which first opened its doors last year launched its corporate logo on 15th February at 2 p.m. on the second day of the Year of the Tiger.

The auspicious ceremony complete with a roaring lion dance performance was held at its premises at 28 Eu Kong Street, Gopeng, the heritage home of the Yaw family for 5 generations.

Bernard Yaw, the Chairman of Muzium Gopeng in his opening address welcomed the almost 200 guests that afternoon. Many amongst the guests were former students of Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan Idris Shah, Gopeng, including their ‘beloved’ Headmaster Y. Bhg Dato’ Seri N.S. Selvamany.

Selvamany presenting his antiquue clock to curator Phang

Selvamany, who was the guest of honour, praised Bernard and his family for “bringing back glory and a future to the town of Gopeng. Bernard has shown his love for the town and country by contributing his Mun Chong heritage home and turning it into a museum, a gesture that cannot be measured”.

Selvamany then presented to Bernard and its museum curator Phang See Kong with an antique clock and a box of ‘kam’ (‘gold’ mandarin oranges). A sum of RM7,000 collected by the ex-students of Sekolah Idris Shah was also presented to curator Phang.

Lion dance at 28 Eu Kong Street

Commenting on the launch of the logo Bernard clarified that they could now get serious about promoting the museum and confirmed that he had registered their website www.muziumgopeng.org and the page was currently being designed.

In conjunction with the launch, the museum had organised a month long exhibition of antique wall and table-top clocks. Most of the clocks on display were of European origin and was originally sold by 3 main Gopeng clock shops during its heyday. The exhibition ends on 16th March.

JAG