Tag Archives: Ipoh Echo cover story

Gas for Growth – An Urgent Call for Kinta Valley


Cover Story

By James Gough

The availability of natural gas supply has been a hot topic in the Kinta Valley recently. The issue was raised twice in the past two months, the first in September at the FMM’ (Federation of Malaysia Manufacturers) dinner while the Malaysian International Chambers for Commerce and Industry (MICCI),  highlighted the same topic at its luncheon a month later. On both occasions, Dato’ Mohamed Zahir Abdul Khalid, State Exco for Investment, Industry and Corridor Development, represented MB Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir during which he described the natural gas supply issue as a “perennial topic” but reassured that the state government was committed to making the “project a reality”.

Natural gas

“Natural Gas Supply to Kinta valley will be my KPI” – Zahir

Gas for Growth 5
Dato’ Mohamed Zahir

Ipoh Echo met with Zahir a few weeks later to follow up on the subject. He intimated that the state government had already met the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohammed and Second Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadziah. Both had agreed in principle to provide the “shortfall fund” of RM40.9 million.

His subsequent meeting with the Minister at the Economic Planning Units, Datuk Seri Wahid Omar revealed that EPU similarly supported the proposal and indicated that the state could use the federal government’s ‘facilitation fund’ to get the project started. However, no indicator was given when the fund would be released. Nevertheless, Zahir acknowledged that natural gas was a positive factor for the state. He would lobby for the funding and had now made this topic his personal ‘Key Performance Index’ (KPI).


Dato’ Gan Tak Kong
Dato’ Gan Tak Kong

According to FMM Perak Chairman, Dato’ Gan Tak Kong, of all the energy sources available, natural gas is the most cost-effective energy for industries. He added that although gas prices are reviewed every quarter, the switch to gas would provide savings to companies.

The request for natural gas was first made by Gan to the State Government and Gas Malaysia in 2004. The initial proposal envisioned a 150km pipeline stretching from Ayer Tawar to Chemor, estimated to cost RM160 million.  The proposal would have been realized in 2006 but due to the shortage of natural gas, Gas Malaysia Berhad was forced to shelve the project.

The scenario changed with the establishment of Petronas Receiving Terminals at Malacca and Pengerang, enabling natural gas to be imported and supplied to more industries throughout the country. Since 2012 , FMM together with the State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) have held discussions with the Energy Commission and Gas Malaysia Berhad to make the Kinta Natural Distribution System a viable project.

Two Phases

The outcome of the discussion was to implement the project in two phases. Phase one of the pipeline will be from Ayer Tawar to Lahat, a distance of 85.822km costing RM102 million and benefiting 16 companies. The project duration is 24 months and a savings of RM40 million could be realized over a period of 3.5 years.

The capital contribution required for phase 1 is RM96 million which will be provided by Gas Malaysia Berhad and the industries. However, there is a shortfall of RM40.9 million from the contribution and this is where the government has been requested to assist.

The second phase of the project will continue from Lahat to Chemor where 35 customers have been identified.

Gas for Growth 4

Gas, Investors and Reinvestments

Should the supply of natural gas become a reality in Kinta Valley, potential investors will be attracted while existing industries will want to reinvest to expand their production lines.

Gan gave the example of Kamunting and Kamunting Raya Industrial Estate in Taiping where natural gas is available. Toyo Tyres has invested RM800 million while two glove manufacturers have pledged to invest RM1 billion to expand their existing production lines and possibly creating employment for 3000 local workers.

Similarly, in the Lahat area a multinational company has plans to reinvest RM50 million “if” natural gas is made available, while a glove manufacturer indicated it might want to revive its production operations.

Nihon Canpack Berhad provides services to canned-beverage drinks. Based in Bemban Industrial Estate, it has been requesting for natural gas since 2004. Its factory manager, En Rosdy Abdullah is full of support for natural gas supply providing multiple reasons of its benefit. “Converting the plant machinery to natural gas is a one-time cost factor which can be recovered in a short time,” he told Ipoh Echo. The factory started with 60 workers and one production line. It currently has two production lines and 200 workers. Rosdy forecasts that the savings derived from the conversion to gas will enable the factory to move into automation.

The reason for automation is due to the difficulty in getting labour. Skilled labour is difficult to get while unskilled labour, though available, is mobile and uncertain. The minimum wage while benefitting the worker does not correspond to improved productivity. Hence the introduction of natural gas provides industries more options to improve productivity, create a better working environment and hopefully, will attract workers.

And by extension, the Bemban Industrial Estate will attract more factories and create more job opportunities.

Revival of Industrial Estates

According to Gan, Perak has several industrial estates that are underutilised. He highlighted the Sri Iskandar High-Tech Park and the Pharmaceutical Park both at Sri Iskandar as well as the Ceramic Park at Chemor which was created around the availability of natural gas supply.

“These industrial parks are good for the state but they require gas to be cost competitive,” he reasoned.  “Investors are on the look-out for locations with cheap energy source. If they do come one can expect the Kinta Valley to grow and be vibrant,” he added.

Critical Mass and Catalyst

David Ho
David Ho

One individual who has experienced the benefits of switching to natural gas is David Ho, Managing Director of Hovid. Two years ago Ho converted to natural gas at his factory, Carotech at Kampong Acheh, Lumut and realized a savings of over 50 per cent from his energy bill.

Ho described gas as “a basic necessity and part of the infrastructure for the state. Manufacturers who use a lot of energy can have big savings and this is an attraction”. Speaking with much passion, Ho explained that providing gas will bring economic growth to the ‘corridor from Ayer Tawar to Chemor’.

Prolonged economic growth especially in the Kinta Valley will create a critical mass that will create jobs and employment and become a catalyst to attract Investors and workers to the state.  Every state needs a catalyst and the Kinta Valley can be to Perak what Klang Valley is to Selangor or Sri Iskandar to Johore.

“The growth of the Kinta valley will affect the whole of Perak. The longer we delay the introduction of gas, the more Ipoh will lose out from investment,” added Ho.

Natural gas - 2

Overwhelming Support for Gas Supply

All those interviewed had positive support for gas supply except possibly for glove manufacturer MAPA located at Meru Industrial Estate. Its General Manager Lim Kim Hock’s only lament was that he would have to wait for Phase 2 before he got his supply and he had been “kept waiting for many years”. A check with a spokesman from UPEN also indicated a positive response describing “if the gas supply is firm it would leapfrog industrial development in the state”.

The overwhelming positive response was not just for its cost savings. Rosdy Abdullah stated that natural gas was clean and green and would reduce his maintenance time. As for Ho, he elaborated that once the gas pipeline was completed, the next beneficiaries would be the consumers and identified the hotels and shopping malls that used a lot of air-conditioning.

It is becoming apparent that the implementation of natural gas is an option we cannot ignore any longer. Gas is certainly an attraction for industry to invest and expand in Ipoh which would create better job opportunities. This in turn would encourage our children to come home to work and play and in doing so create that critical mass needed as the catalyst for more growth.

That being the case, delaying the introduction of natural gas will not be to our advantage.

Chinese Opera – Rising like the Phoenix


Chinese Opera in the Kinta valley is rising like the proverbial Phoenix from its ashes (an expression from Greek mythology, of a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn from the ashes of its predecessor).

The main roles were played by Sung Hung Poh and Ko Lai from Hong Kong

This was the conclusion Ipoh Echo came to  based on the recent Operatic event held at the 118-year-old Kuan Ti temple at Batu Gajah in August this year. The Opera ran for twenty days and it had a good turnout every night. What was interesting was the increase in the number of  younger attendees, which had hitherto attracted a primarily older audience with  the majority being women.

Younger Audience, Younger Performers

My first encounter with Chinese Opera was four years ago when I was invited to Papan to view the Opera there. Not having a clue about Chinese Opera I went along. What attracted me then was the rich make-up and the kaleidoscopic costumes of the actors and actresses. It was a small stage in a small town  with a rich cultural history and for the two nights which I attended, the audience was less than a full house.

Refreshments outside the gate of Kuan Ti Temple Batu Gajah

However the scenario at  Batu Gajah was different. There was a buzz of anticipation. Up front red plastic chairs and wooden benches were lined up before the stage. The Opera normally starts around 7.30pm to 8pm and lasts till 11pm. As is usual, the organizers had allowed hawkers to sell food and drinks around the periphery for the audience who would patronize them in between acts.

Back stage was a hive of activity. In between acts actors would change costumes, touch up their make-up and reread their scripts all the while being assisted by their helpers. Everyone went about their duties knowing what was up next.

The scripts are all based on traditional stories handed down through centuries and each night was a different script. The actors may have done the script before but before each act they would be seen rehearsing their lines again.

Backstage actors reread their scripts before the next act.

Chinese Opera comes in many forms and each is notable for its own unique style. Whilst many foreigners sometimes joke that it sounds like someone strangling a cat, this is most unfair as it is a highly developed art form that many simply do not understand. It is known as ‘opera’ to emphasise this point.

Intrigued by the better audience at the Batu Gajah opera, I returned a subsequent evening early around 5.30pm. I was told to come at this time because after their dinner the actors would begin preparing for the show which would at start at 8pm.

Opera Company

The Batu Gajah event was organised by Pusat Drama Chinese Opera Cheng Yi or the Cheng Yi Chinese Opera and Drama Centre. Established two years ago by Ms Peggy Choy Poh Peng who comes from a background in Chinese Opera. Her father was a Chinese Opera musician while her mother helped to dress the actresses. During this particular event in Batu Gajah, I was delighted to see that  Choy’s father  was still playing the erhu with the rest of the orchestra.

Choy herself learned to perform Chinese Opera and was active until she stopped over 15 years ago due to family commitments. Although she had stopped performing she still followed the performances although she felt that they lacked polish and she was generally not satisfied with what she saw.

Actors and musicians at the Opera

Four years ago she decided to return to performing and subsequently started her own drama company as she felt that she could do better and could contribute to improve the Chinese opera culture.

Choy loved the Opera and starting her own company gave her the opportunity to allow her to promote Opera by doing it her own way. Cantonese opera perform more freely than Peking Operas and in Cantonese operas, actors are allowed to improvise.

Music, singing, martial arts, acrobatics and acting are all featured in Cantonese opera. Most of the plots are based on Chinese history and famous Chinese classics and myths. Also, the culture and philosophies of the Chinese people can be seen in the plays. Virtues (like loyalty, love, patriotism and faithfulness) are often reflected by the operas. Thus Choy had free reign to adapt and improvise.

Acknowledging that the Opera needed to cultivate young talent she initially got her younger relations to participate while  ensuring that their performances did not clash with their studies. One of her nieces, Choy Tong Ling is thirteen years old. Although she likes the Opera her involvement began as  she  enjoyed helping out her Aunty and being around the family.

Left photo (r-l) Peggy Choy with young actresses Choy Tong Lim and Sum Yee

At the Batu Gajah event there were a total of four youths performing, with the youngest being Sum Yee, 10, a Standard 5 student at SJK Min Sin Ampang Ipoh. While not a relation of Choy’s, Sum Yee had shown an interest in Opera and she was promptly recruited after her  grandfather told Choy’s musician father about her . Sum Yee has now been with the centre for 2 years singing and acting  a lot, mainly playing the part of boys.

She refers to Choy as sifu (master/teacher) and for the Batu Gajah event started rehearsing for it six months earlier. For the twenty days, due to her school and tuition schedule she played extras parts but on the final night she played a main role.

The Hong Kong Factor

According to Choy the Chinese Opera circuit averages 60 to 70 shows each year. Before Batu Gajah the centre had performed for 10 days in Gopeng. Her acceptance of a ‘gig’ depended  on whether the price was right as ‘”the actors and actresses need to be paid”. As there many temples in Perak she is kept busy most of the time sometimes going as far afield as  Penang and KL. She does draw the line at performing at shopping malls though.

Main actress Ko Lai praised Peggy Choy for preserving the art.

An undisputed draw to the Opera is the participation of Hong Kong actors. One of these is actress Ms Ko Lai, who has been acting for twenty years and whom Choy calls her step sister as she used to act with her during her early days. Ko Lai only performs in Cantonese and mainly in Ipoh. Ko Lai is very popular and her fans follow her performances when she is here.

Main actor Sung Hung Poh getting ready

The event in Batu Gajah included  a total of eight actors from Hong Kong. Besides Ko Lai who played the lead female role, she brought along Sung Hung Poh, who played the male main role and up and coming young actor Alan Tam Wang Lun, 19.

Preserving Opera

It is well known that Chinese Opera is a dying act.  Ko Lai knows full well explaining that “if a trade cannot make a living it will die naturally”. However she was full of praise for Choy’s effort to preserve this art by trying to cultivate the young and organizing these events to the enjoyment of Opera enthusiasts. “With the plethora of media entertainment,  audiences have more entertainment choices. Nevertheless a good Opera will always attract an audience.”

Local Fans

Undoubtedly praise must be given to the fans. As I waited for the last show to start, I noted vans from Kampar and Tapah laden with fans and family members arriving over an hour before the start of the show.

The fans. (bottom right photo) Chan Whai Ping and Nancy Tan

Opera fans Chan Whai Ping and Nancy Tan must be voted the heroines for driving from Teluk Intan nightly to catch the show just because “this year it is very good”. When I enquired if they were worried for their safety going back after 11pm at night Tan brushed off the suggestion saying the most danger was from the cow in the middle of the road.

With ardent fans like these Choy only needs to maintain the quality of her events for it to gain popularity over time. Quite possibly by then Choy’s centre could perform at a temple in Ipoh where tourists could hop over for a few acts after dinner as one of the “things to see”.

With young talent and new focus Chinese Opera will rise like the Phoenix

Then, no longer will Chinese opera be a dying art form but like the Phoenix, it will rise from the ashes to become a sought after and much enjoyed entertainment medium.

Meantime children who are interested to act or learn music can contact Peggy Choy at 016 566 6104.

James Gough

Complementary Therapies (Part 2)


Cover Story

By Serena Mui


In the last issue (IE 176), we began a roundup of the complementary therapies available in Ipoh and discussed the various ways in which these different therapies can complement allopathic medicine in healing physical ailments particularly those originating from emotional causes. In this issue, we continue with our investigation and highlight the plethora of different therapies, techniques and practices  that may assist in the alleviation of suffering whether it be physical or emotional pain.



“I don’t understand how it works. All I know is that it works” – Jaz Goven (FTT & EFT Trainer)

Fast Track and Emotional Healing Technique (EFT)

Fast track technique and EFT is another healing modality that helps a person to enjoy better health and general well-being. In this method, muscle testing is used to access the subconscious mind and locate the root cause of a particular issue that is contributing to the imbalance in your life, whether it be physical or emotional.

It was a delight to spend time with Jaz Goven, a British national who has been conducting training sessions here in Ipoh, as she took me through the very simple stages of her programme.

Muscle Testing

According to Jaz, your body will always tell you the truth when your subconscious mind is questioned. And muscle testing is the key to accessing the subconscious mind. Once accessed she continues to probe for the root causes of the various physical or emotional problems that are presenting themselves in one’s present life. She then moves on to eliminate the beliefs that caused them either through a tapping process known as EFT which engages certain acupressure points of the body or with the use of magnets and affirmations.

Jaz is passionate about helping people help themselves, which is an attractive feature of the technique, if you don’t want to keep seeking “treatment” on a regular basis. Jaz hopes that by learning the fast track technique and EFT, any individual will be able to, not only address their emotions and overcome negativity, but will also be in better control of their health and their lives.

Complementary therapy - Jaz Goven muscle testing
Jaz Goven muscle testing

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Acupuncture

As far back as 4000 years ago, people have been turning to TCM and acupuncture to treat all kinds of ailments. Today it is enjoying a revitalised popularity as more people are discovering its efficacy.

Queenie Kong took some time away from her busy schedule to explain just how TCM and acupuncture helps. Practising her art of healing since 2008, she bases her treatments on finding the root cause of the problem rather than simply treating the symptom. This, Queenie emphasizes, is the only way to keep the negative condition from recurring.

Queenie uses four different “checking steps” to determine the root cause of any negative condition, before attempting to treat her clients. Observing, Listening, Questioning and Palpations make up the check list. She then examines the condition of your tongue to further confirm her initial diagnosis. A standard session could take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, while the more intense sessions take an hour during which time she may prescribe acupuncture to relieve symptoms or she may make up a herbal mixture for you to decoct at home or even give you herbal medicines in capsule form.

Another interesting area that Queenie’s expertise covers is Aesthetics acupuncture. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of ladies having ‘gone under the needle’ on their faces for firming and de-wrinkling were so spectacular that even a skeptic like me found myself tempted. So ladies, you might want to consider this before going under the knife, to make those all so ‘little’ adjustments.

Complementary therapy - Lee Jee Wai
Lee Jee Wai

Karmic and Angelic Reiki

Another Reiki practitioner I had the pleasure of meeting, was Lee Jee Wai. Using Angel therapy cards was part of Lee’s foray into the world of alternative healing. He is passionate about making people understand that their general well-being is intricately connected to their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual balance. With his attunement to Reiki and healing sessions, Lee hopes to help individuals seeking help to finally achieve that all so important balance in their lives.

Lee’s work is heavily based on the Forgiveness Principle, which is the Hawaiian Teaching of “Ho o Pono Pono”. The words mean “I am sorry, Please forgive me, I love you and Thank you”. These words are usually uttered at the beginning of the Reiki session to allow some of the negative energy from within to be released and replaced with positive energy. The inner peace often enjoyed, usually works as the ideal launching pad for the individual to pursue Reiki further.

Reiki, Karuna, Ki, Sufi, Imara Attunement

Complementary therapy - Dr Abd. Rahman
Dr Abd. Rahman

When things go wrong in your life or even if you simply want to make some positive changes, calling on Dr Abd. Rahman Mat Judin to help steer you in the right direction might be the best route to take. After extensively studying and attending a variety of courses on Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Pranic Healing, Yoga, Tai Chi, Silva Mind Control and many other alternative healing methodologies, Dr Rahman is indeed more than qualified to help anyone searching for a better and more fulfilling life, or to simply be able to reach their goals.

Dr Rahman has also been instrumental in teaching and encouraging many others to become masters in the alternative healing field. He has had the opportunity to treat people from all over the world, with his particular style which effectively utilizes the inherent energy prana or life energy to infuse self-healing.

Issues on unhappy marriages, lack of motivation to study, not being able to excel in a chosen field, picking suitable employees, breaking bad habits and financial problems are just some of the challenges that Dr Rahman has successfully worked on, through the course of practising his complementary healing style. Over the course of the last three years, since going into the complementary healing practice full time, he has been able to help an even more impressive number of people. However, Dr Rahman does emphasize that, the individual seeking help, must do so only when he/she is ready to make a change.

Pranic Healing

Pranic Healing
Pranic Healing

Pranic healing is a form of healing that creates the opportunity for you to welcome joy, peace, good health, spirituality and abundance into your life. Pranic healing is based on the concept of learning to harness “prana” otherwise referred to as “life energy” or better known to the Chinese community as “Chi” to create a life of balance in mind, body and soul. The practice of Pranic healing can help to heal physical and emotional problems.

Pranic healing bases its idea on the fundamental principle of the body as a self-healing, living entity. Therefore with the right “tools” and guidance the body is capable of healing itself. In Pranic healing, this “tool” is the art of increasing the life force to address any physical or emotional imbalance. Somewhat similar to the practice of some forms of Reiki, Pranic healing also uses a non-physical contact style of moving energy. The life energy is meant to help unblock the energy flow to the chakra or energy centre in your body so that the cleansing and healing process can begin.

In Ipoh, there are various weekly programmes, special programmes and monthly programmes that anyone can attend. At these programmes there are free healing sessions done by Pranic healers, meditation sessions to facilitate self-healing, and meditation sessions for world peace. There are also special on-going healing programmes held every alternate Sunday at the Ipoh Polo Ground. For the month of November and December there are full moon scheduled meditation sessions at all the centres on the 17th day of each month respectively.

In the end, all anyone really wants is to be able to live a life free of illness, worries and heartache. Although there are various different types of medications that can help a person actually achieve some level of control over these elements, long term use of these prescriptions often bring about other medical problems. Alternative healing practices are based on righting the wrongs in your life in the most natural and noninvasive manner. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain by taking the time to learn how to be at peace, in body, mind and spirit.

Contact details:

Jaz Goven: www.FastTrackTechique.com

TCM Acupuncture: Queenie Kong 017 500 2290   Inside the Sculpt Fitness Facility

Lee Jee Wai: ljeewai@hotmail.com

Dr Abd Rahman: arbmj55@yahoo.com or 012 512 1246

Centre for Prana Yoga & Self Transformation: Wisma Ehsan, 2-5 Jalan Sultan Yussuf, Ipoh. Tel: 05 255 4590, 012 974 2028 or 012 295 9288.

Complementary Therapy


Cover Story

By Serena Mui

TCM, Reiki, Phytobiophysics, Fast Track and Emotional Freedom Technique, Ayurveda, Karuna, Ki, Sufi, Pranic and Sound Healing. One hears these terms being bandied around as more and more people are being introduced to some of these techniques and practices to help heal the physical and emotional ups and downs faced by most people at some point in their lives. Ipoh, being the laggard in new ‘things’ finding its way here, is seeing a stirring of activity, the winds of change bringing fresh ideas, fresh techniques and fresh faces to the complementary therapy scene. In this and the coming issue, Ipoh Echo takes a look at the plethora of complementary therapies available in Ipoh…

Complementary therapy

Alternative Therapies to Complement Allopathic Medicine?

With the rising costs tagged to conventional medical treatments available today, more people are seeking out complementary methods of healing to address various ailments. Although one should not carelessly dismiss the benefits of a proper medical diagnosis and its recommended programmes, it is becoming quite a common practice today even among the skeptics, to give complementary therapy a try. Especially when carried out by people who are knowledgeable and experienced.

Complementary therapy practitioners believe that all physical ailments begin with an emotional cause which fester in the subconscious mind and manifests as sickness over time. Hence complementary therapy aims to achieve balance and harmony in all aspects of body, mind and spirit.

Among the more popular examples of complementary therapy are ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicines, energy therapies, homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, mind and body therapies, herbs diet and vitamin therapies, body manipulation, massage and acupuncture.


Practitioners in Ipoh

In and around Ipoh, you will be able to find quite a number of practitioners, who have successfully practised their craft. These people’s successes are usually downplayed, as many do not advertise their services. Referrals are usually the main way these practitioners get their patients.

Through the course of research on the topic, I had the opportunity to sit down with a few practitioners and was intrigued with what they had to say. The main message seemed to be, that with complementary therapy, one can enjoy better overall health and well-being, as the various methodologies used, all focused on creating a balance in body, mind and spirit. They all stressed that medical diagnosis is not to be disregarded altogether, but complementary therapy would be a great addition to creating optimal recovery conditions.

Cho Ku Rei – Reiki power symbol
Cho Ku Rei – Reiki power symbol


Healing the Reiki way

Reiki, a form of energy healing was started by a Japanese, Dr Usui in the early part of last century. I had the opportunity to spend some time with a visiting Reiki practitioner, who has achieved the Master/Teacher level. Andrew Khor, kindly took the time to explain this healing practice and the positive impact it can make in a person’s life. It soon became clear to me, why so many people are keenly exploring Reiki, as a safe alternative to addressing some physical and mental issues. A humble and delightful character, who is bubbling with energy and what I can only describe as a “happy aura”, Andrew explained his particular style and why he is confident that, with guidance, anyone can live a happy and healthy life.

Complementary therapy-6

Vocal Rather than Touch

Andrew’s style takes the basic practice, which involves the laying on of hands and the use of symbols a step further. By vocalizing in multiples, some of these symbols, he claims to dramatically multiply their healing power. This vocal method is particularly appropriate here as “touching” is not something most of us are comfortable with especially when dealing with strangers. Although the original hands-on method is meant to channel universal energy by touch, for self-healing and a state of equilibrium, Andrew’s method of vocalizing the symbols can also bring forth similar positive results, as many of his ‘patients’ will attest.


Complementary therapy-9
Phytobiophysics flower remedies

This is another style of complementary therapy that utilizes the infinite energy of flowers and plants to harmonize and balance the disturbances of humanity on all levels of consciousness. Striking a balance on all levels would include addressing the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical elements within oneself.

The founder of the Phytobiophysics system, Dr Diana Mossop’s, first foray into this field came about after a severe illness, which western medical procedures could not address. Returning to her childhood roots of natural medicine, Dr Diana Mossop started seriously exploring the natural healing and organic nutritional benefits found in plants. Taking her research further she then explored the energetic, vibrational and color aspect of plants.

‘Doc’ Yeap
‘Doc’ Yeap

Here in Ipoh, Mdm Yeap Heong Moi (everyone calls her Doc) helps those seeking to correct their imbalances with therapies such as Phytobiophysics Structural mobilization, Special Lymphatic Stimulation as well as the hundreds of flowers and plant remedies around which the Phytobiophysics healing system revolves. Coincidently  Yeap also turned to complementary therapy remedies when she too was seriously ill and western medicine could do little to help her. After successfully recovering from her illness and enjoying a new lease of life, Yeap devoted all her energy to learning more about this wonderful world of Phytobiophysics.

A nurse by training, Yeap always nurtured a burning desire to help children born with challenging conditions. Her heart goes out to families struggling to cope with such circumstances, especially those with children who suffer from autism. Through the Phytobiophysics healing properties, she has been able to help many families. Listening to her passionately talk about all the cases she has successfully helped, made me want to tell those going through such challenges to beat a path to Yeap’s door in Lengkok Canning and get an appointment immediately.

The flower formulae used in Phytobiophysics are therapeutic tools that deliver specific vibrations that can help imbalances correct themselves. Treating different conditions that include stabilizing and harmonizing emotional sadness and trauma or assisting in recovery phases, aiding the body to assimilate nutrients, releasing energy blocks, bad skin conditions, are just some of the negative situations Yeap has been able to put right using the Phytobiophysics healing method.


Sound Healing 

Anne Huxtable with crystal singing bowl
Anne Huxtable with crystal singing bowl

Have you ever wondered why some types of music will automatically relax you, while others, simply make you want to scream? Science tells us that sounds are a form of energy. Most people who are willing to use this energy as a complementary therapy tool have attested to its high success rates.

Anne Huxtable, an Australian living in Ipoh, is a sound therapist who practises in her spare time. I experienced her techniques for complementary therapy and came away pleasantly surprised at its effectiveness.

During a session, she showed me the various different “tools” that can be used in sound healing sessions. The two cloudy crystal singing bowls which were made from pure quartz crystal were beautiful and gave off what would probably be to others a beautiful range of sounds. Unfortunately, I must be among the odd few who found the frequencies generated by the bowls a little disturbing.

Then there was a beautiful sounding tool which looked to me like a mini xylophone. This tool is usually placed on the person’s body at his/her seven chakra points and as each piece is lightly tapped, the sound emitted will allow the practitioner to assess the condition of that particular part of the body. If a particular area’s energy is negative, then positive vibrations can be introduced into the affected area for healing.

Then came the “tool” that impressed me the most. The tuning fork! I say impressed, because although I was rather skeptical about trying this therapy method, (I had never seen tuning forks, so to me they looked like something a mechanic or electrician would use) I felt immediate effects when Anne placed the tuning fork on the area where I was experiencing a nagging ache. I could feel an immediate tingling sensation as the vibrations worked on my muscles and relieved the tension. I was so thrilled at the immediate results enjoyed, that I am now seriously considering getting one of my own.

Next issue IE177: Karmic and Angelic Reiki, Reiki, Karuna, Ki, Sufi, Imara Attunement, Fast Track and EFT technique, TMC (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Acupuncture, Pranic Healing.


Contact Details:

Andrew Khor:  khoracle@gmail.com

Yeap Heong Moi:  www.phytob-my.com
22 Lengkok Canning, Ipoh Garden.  Tel: 05-546 5297

Anne Huxtable:  soundhealingipoh@gmail.com


Job Opportunities in Perak


Cover Story

By Emily Lowe

During the ‘60s and ‘70s when tin and rubber were the main contributors to Malaysia’s commodity-based economy, Perak was considered the second most prosperous state in the country, after Selangor, in terms of per capita income. Besides Ipoh, towns like Kampar, Bidor and Taiping were vibrant, often associated with millionaires and Mercedes Benzes. With the collapse of the world tin industry in the early 1980s, Perak saw a turn of fortune. The closure of tin mines affected livelihood and this forced many to migrate overseas to seek greener pastures. The trend has since continued, with most choosing to remain where they pursued tertiary education.

Job opportunities in Perak-1

Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment is always an option

While statistics are not available, Pusat Kerjaya Amanjaya (PeKA), a State job placement agency, through a press statement issued on July 30, 2013, has acknowledged that many college and university graduates are finding difficulty in looking for their dream jobs.

Although PeKA was incepted in March 2011, and has secured gainful employment for 9241 job seekers via its portal www.jobsperak.com, the perception remains that skilled workers and professionals in Perak cannot get jobs that meet their requirements.

It is also worth noting that most vacancies offered at career fairs are for lower positions, and do not necessarily appeal to those with at least a degree qualification.

Questions that need to be asked such as:

  • Are there enough jobs for college/university graduates?
  • Are the youths too choosy about the nature of the jobs and/or the pay?
  • Do they have the necessary skills needed by the employers?
  • Ipoh Echo spoke to stakeholders, namely aspiring employees, potential employers and Non-Governmental Organisations for their views.
Melvin Navin
Melvin Navin

Employee Perspectives

According to Melvin Navin a/l Edwin Williams, 22, who will graduate from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) this December with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, looking for a suitable job in Ipoh will be tough. He said, “Ipoh is a small city and positions are always quickly filled. It may not be a problem looking for an in-house PR job but at this point, I am all for venturing beyond Ipoh.”

Khoo Ebel
Khoo Ebel

Khoo Ebel, 22, who graduated from the same university in May, also with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, believes that fresh graduates should not be picky when it comes to their first job. Currently working as sales coordinator at Kinta Riverfront Hotel, it is not her principal field of study, but she is beginning to like her job.

Ebel said, “I have always liked the hotel environment, and took up public relations for its wider job scope. No doubt, there is a lack of opportunity in Ipoh, but I wish to gain as much experience as I can first.”

Employer Perspectives

Alan Tan Hock Lee (Unisem)
Alan Tan Hock Lee (Unisem)

Alan Tan Hock Lee, Human Resources Manager at Unisem (M) Bhd, a semiconductor manufacturing plant in Simpang Pulai, did not believe that the quality of jobs in Perak is lacking. He countered, “There are quite a number of opportunities open. On the contrary, it is a challenge to find the right candidate to fill a vacancy. The youth nowadays are unwilling to work hard. Besides, they are looking for jobs that offer flexi-time.”

Tan continued, “The only economically viable industry in the country is manufacturing. Definitely, more has to be done to attract investors to set up their plants here, with incentive packages attractive enough for them to commit their investments.”

General Manager of Casuarina @ Meru, Chow Mun Lan, concurred, “There are a lot of job opportunities open. It depends on whether one is ready to take up the challenge or not. Job seekers are quite selective these days, as you know.”

Casuarina @ Meru, with 150 guest rooms, has scheduled its soft opening for November. There are more than 100 vacancies available across the board.

Chow continued, “We’re open to those without experience because training is provided. It’ll be an on-going learning process. Even though they may leave us at some point in time, at least they’ll be equipped with the relevant knowledge and skills.

“Therefore, I believe there are plenty of job opportunities in Ipoh, especially for those in the hospitality industry. Besides, internal staff will have priority when it comes to promotion.”

NGO Perspectives

Dato’ Gan Tack Kong, Chairman of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Perak, believes that the perception given at career fairs is grossly incorrect as most employers in the manufacturing industry prefer to advertise their vacancies through other media such as newspaper, headhunting agencies and online.

He said, “In the first six days of August 2013, there were 24 management-level vacancies offered by the industry via JobStreet, in the areas of Engineering, Purchasing, Production and Accounts, just to name a few. On the other hand, some multinational companies indicated problems in recruiting engineers in the areas of Research & Development, product development and costing. These companies are prepared to offer apprenticeship, and yet still faced difficulties in sourcing for suitable candidates.”

According to Lee Chee Ming, Chairman of the Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Social and Economic Research Committee, the job situation is both a function and reflection of the economic activities in Perak. The higher the level of economic activity the more jobs will be created.

Lee Chee Ming
Lee Chee Ming

Lee opined, “For job opportunities, people and government need to invest in consumption and capital goods. A major problem lies with low capital expenditure. Perak has some 2.8 million people or approximately ten percent of the country’s population. The state, however, has been allocated less than two percent of the annual federal capital expenditure. We need a bigger allocation for infrastructure like roads, universities, gas pipelines, public housing, etc.

“Perak is in dire need of a gas pipeline to cater for the needs of industries in the Kinta Valley. The cost of laying such a line from Tronoh to Simpang Pulai is estimated at RM160 million. For over 10 years now we are still discussing  where the funding for this much needed pipeline will come from.

“The bulk of the capital expenditure and development under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) will go to Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley, Penang and Iskandar Johore. Most of the jobs created over the next seven years until 2020 will be in these three growth areas. If we have high speed trains that run at 300km/h connecting towns from the north to the south of Peninsular Malaysia, people can actually live in smaller towns and commute daily to work in larger cities. This will ensure a geographically more balanced development.

“Ipoh airport has recently been upgraded and the runway extended. We’ve yet to see the much needed direct flights to regional metropolitan cities like Bangkok, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Connectivity and easier accessibility will not only bring in more tourists but also foreign investments.

“To encourage private sector investment, domestic and foreign, we need a business-friendly public delivery system that is second to none. Relevant authorities should hold frequent dialogues with trade associations and help their members to grow, expand and be successful. Successful businesses are our best ambassadors to attract new investors. This has to be complemented with an efficient and transparent public delivery system.

“Currently, it is people-driven, very much dependant on the availability of the officers-in-charge. We should move towards a system-driven approach where the process of application for permits and licences has a specific timeline. Rejections should have reasons stated and suggestions for the applicants to meet compliance. This will go a long way towards attracting new investments.”

Fahimah Mohamad Farid
Fahimah Mohamad Farid (internet entrepreneur)
The Bargain Palace (young entrepreneurs)
The Bargain Palace (young entrepreneurs)

Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment

Suitable jobs may be difficult to come by, especially for those without work experience. However, thinking out of the box, is it set in stone that fresh graduates must seek employment? If opportunities are difficult to come by, why not create one yourself?

The world is our marketplace, thanks to the Internet. Fahimah Mohamad Farid, 26, who prefers to be called Emma, is a diploma holder in batik art craft from the National Craft Institute in Rawang, Selangor. Emma sews felt owl plushies for sale under her brand name, Felt Ville, not only through the Internet but also at local bazaars.

Brandon Choy is a 16-year-old student of SMJK Sam Tet, Ipoh. He and two friends started a T-shirt designing and printing business in November 2011, offering their services to student clubs. Brandon said, “The decision to start The Bargain Palace was easy as there was a void. Besides, communicating with my peers isn’t a problem. Business was very tough initially, as we had to gain our clients’ trust first.”

Brandon’s partner, Gerald Leong, a fourth former at the same school, said the idea to go into business came about because he is not academically-inclined. However, there is no denying about the importance of education and plans to pursue a degree in electrical and electronics in Taiwan, and thereafter, establish a career overseas.

When it comes to job hunting, Gerald said, “It is easier to land a job if one is skill-trained.” Wise words from a 17-year-old lad.

Going Nuts in Ipoh


Cover Story

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

While the Kinta Valley is synonymous with tin and the rich heritage it spawned, another commodity which has been overshadowed by the silver sheen of tin is the lowly groundnut, a cash crop that some entrepreneurial tin miners began planting during the Tin Rush from the 1880s onwards. Most of these groundnuts came from Menglembu where a majority of these tin miners lived. The people of Menglembu soon learned to love the groundnuts for its unique flavour and crunchiness. Before long, the term ‘Menglembu Groundnuts’ or ‘Man Lei Mong Fah Sang’ became a household name.

Going nuts in Ipoh - Ngan Yin 2

Groundnuts contain more protein than meat and about two and a half times more than eggs

One businessman who capitalized on this popular demand for groundnuts is Mr Ngan Yin. He developed his own brand ‘Kacang Cap Tangan’ – meaning ‘hand brand groundnuts’ using the image of a hand giving the thumbs up sign to signify excellence. This hand image which has remained unchanged from the beginning, was to become one of the most widely known symbols of good taste not only in Malaysia, but also in Singapore as well.

This very clever subliminal suggestion of excellence has seeped into the mind of the consuming public, gaining unconscious acceptance and probably accounting for the fact that despite the plethora of peanut brands out there, Ngan Yin (the eponymous brand name) today, has captured 60% market share.

Going nuts in Ipoh - Ngan Yin 3

Mechanization in 1975

As the lowly groundnut slowly but surely gained popularity to become the snack item for all occasions, Mr Ngan Yin, aiming for bigger and better markets for the groundnuts, incorporated his factory in 1975, increasing production and further imprinting ‘Kacang Cap Tangan’ into customer’s top-of-mind awareness.

Today, the Ngan Yin empire is helmed by Mr Ngan Yin’s son Dato’ Gan Tack Kong, who despite his busy schedule as the Chairman of FMM Perak Branch and sits on many boards and committees, found the time to give Ipoh Echo an interview.

Going nuts in Ipoh - Ngan Yin 5

Two Varieties, White and Red

“Our groundnuts are of two varieties, the Spanish white and the Spanish red. The Spanish white are favoured by the Chinese while Malays generally prefer the red variety which is marketed as Shandong Peanuts. The Spanish white was originally grown by small farmers in plots throughout Malaysia and particularly around Ipoh and Menglembu. These smaller and more delicate nuts, take 92 to 95 days to mature while the reds which are bigger, more robust and more oily, (peanut oil is produced from these) take 110 to 120 days.

“Middlemen would collect the groundnuts from farmers just after the monsoon and deliver them to us for processing which in the old days was a laborious manual affair lasting 11 days of salting, cooking, drying in the sun and then roasting. All this changed when my father set up his factory and mechanization came in.”

Semi-Processed Imports

Today, farmers are not planting groundnuts commercially in Malaysia anymore. All the groundnuts that Ngan Yin processes and package are imported from Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Cambodia. Their factories are in Cambodia and here in Malaysia in Mambang Di Awan near Kampar.

The groundnuts come in semi-processed, meaning that they are already salted, cooked and dried. The factories then roast and sort them for the final packaging with the inimitable hand symbol emblazoned across the package or tin. Aside from a move to brighter neon colours to attract a younger market, the graphics have remained the same for all of the 65 years that the company has been in business. And the old fashioned square tins are still being sought after since the good old days when these air tight tins were hoarded to be re-used as containers to store other dry food items.

Going nuts in Ipoh - Ngan Yin 6

The Original Health Snack

“No preservatives are added to the groundnuts so when you think about it, here they are, pristine  in their natural shell, lightly salted, each ‘nut’ packed with its own monounsaturated “good” fat, low in saturated “bad” fat, and voila, we have the original healthy snack. Its no wonder that our products are now placed alongside other snack items on supermarket shelves except that our Ngan Yin groundnuts are way ahead of the game in terms of heart healthy value” Dato’ Gan added.

Nutrition Facts

And there is ample reason for groundnuts to be a favoured snack food. An ounce of groundnuts can provide up to 14 per cent protein in one’s daily diet. That’s more than any other nut and legume. This high amount is especially beneficial in the diets of children, vegetarians and those aged 50 and above.

The groundnut is particularly valued for its protein content (26 per cent). On a kg for kg basis, groundnuts contain more protein than meat and about two and a half times more than eggs. Being an oil seed crop, it contains 40 to 49 per cent oil. In addition to protein and oil, groundnuts are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and boron.

According to The Peanut Institute, Albany, GA, USA, an ounce of groundnuts can provide 25 per cent of vitamin E and essential minerals such as magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium and zinc required in your daily diet. All these act as antioxidants which help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. It is a good source of vitamin B containing folate, which helps prevent birth defects and reduces homocysteine in the blood thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. It is a good source of phytochemicals, that is, natural substances in plants which provide a variety of health benefits including reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.

Recent clinical research shows peanuts (a more popular name for groundnuts) can fight obesity because it slowly releases high glycaemic sugars into the bloodstream. This slow release of energy results in less frequent hunger pangs.

Going nuts in Ipoh - Ngan Yin 1

Peanuts Facts

While “nut” is in their name, peanuts are in fact legumes (Arachis hypogaea). Peanuts actually grow underground, as opposed to nuts like walnuts, almonds, etc., that grow on trees (and are sometimes referred to as “tree nuts”). Peanuts, along with beans and peas, belong to the single plant family, Leguminosae.

Legumes are edible seeds enclosed in pods. As a group, they provide the best source of concentrated protein in the plant kingdom. While groundnuts’ physical structure and nutritional benefits more closely resemble that of other legumes, their use in diets and cuisines more closely resembles that of nuts.

Going nuts in Ipoh - Ngan Yin 4Big Business   

Groundnuts are no small business. With an annual turnover of RM40 million, Ngan Yin is constantly on the lookout for new markets and new sources of revenue. New customers now include Firefly which serves packets of the shelled roasted peanuts on its flights and a similar small pack is available for sale at retail outlets and supermarkets.

While there are peanuts everywhere – shelled, salted, unsalted, smoked, a plethora of options  are out there – and yet there is instant recognition when one hears the name Menglembu groundnuts. With such a successful track record and recognition especially amongst the Chinese population worldwide, Ipoh Echo asked Dato’ Gan if plans for a Peanut Museum have ever been mooted, to which he replied, “Considering that so much has been talked about re the setting up of a Tin Museum, I have often thought that a Peanut Museum would be most appropriate especially as Menglembu groundnuts has became a household name. Our hand signature logo is instantly recognisable wherever one is in the world and one day I would love to see the packaging immortalised in a museum. Together with all the other brands like the well known Pagoda and the Fisherman. Of course, the first step is to collect all the old paraphernalia that went into the processing of the original Menglembu groundnut”.

So the next time you crack open a groundnut, remember that they first achieved popularity as a snack food in Menglembu, on our very own doorstep.

Ipoh Limestone, an Environmental Management Challenge


By James Gough

The scenic hills of the Kinta Valley have always been a talking point by many groups. The environmental NGOs would like to preserve the hills for future generations while the state government considers them as a source of revenue, which were leased out to the quarry operators over 30 years ago. Back then the limestone extracted was used for roads, cement and the construction industry and was mainly produced by companies such as Tasek Cement or Hume Cement. Subsequently, marble furniture came into fashion, as well as the introduction of calcium carbonate powder or CCP which found use in a whole string of industries. With the demise of the tin-mining industry in the early 1980s, quarrying for rocks and marble has become the most active industry in the valley.

Ipoh Limestone, an Environmental Management Challenge-1
Imerys Quarry Manager Mohd Yazid explaining their top down quarrying operation.
Inset: Imerys Minerals plant at Simpang Pulai


Demand for white limestone

The Kinta Valley limestone consists largely of calcite (calcium carbonate or dolomite). The colour is mainly white, and even though it is tinged with a touch of grey, it has no effect on demand.

The demand for white limestone is high because of its usage. It is used in a wide range of industries such as to whiten paper, in paints as a bond, in plastics as a filler and an alternative to oil based resins and a multitude of other uses which include latex gloves, skin whitening and toothpaste.

Ipoh Limestone, an Environmental Management Challenge-2

Limestone Formation

Ipoh Limestone, an Environmental Management Challenge-7
Dr Kamaludin Hassan

“The largest amount of limestone in Malaysia is found at Simpang Pulai and the Kinta Valley,” said Dr Kamaludin Hassan, the Director of the Mineral and Geoscience Department, located at Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah.

Kamaludin also acknowledged there are substantial amounts of granite in the valley though most of it is found along the Kledang Range, west of the valley.

The Kinta Valley stretches from Kampar to Tanjung Tualang in the south, Chemor and Kanthan to the north and Simpang Pulai to the east.

The whole of the Kinta Valley is underlain with limestone, the major bedrock present in the form of hills above and under the ground.

Kinta Valley’s limestone is actually meta-sedimentary-rock and is believed to have been formed between the Triassic (230-190 million years) to Permian (280-230 million years) periods.


The Beginning

Audrey Shanta-Poh, the Managing Director for Uniko Calcium Carbonate Industry, has been in the industry since the 1980s. Poh’s factory supplies calcium carbonate to the paper industry.

She related that in the ‘80s her immediate neighbours then were the hills and the jungles. Over the years, more limestone-processing factories have sprung up at Simpang Pulai and they are now her new neighbours.

Another of the ‘80s start-up companies is Sri Martek Marble Industries which manufactures marble furniture. One of the factory’s founders, who declined to have his name revealed, stated that their factory initially was making marble tiles but subsequently branched out to TV cabinets, table tops and other marble-based furniture.

Limestone boulders to be cut to size at Sri Martek Marble Industries
Limestone boulders to be cut to size at Sri Martek Marble Industries

Sri Martek Marble is currently one of very few marble furniture manufacturers still around. With a market that is not expanding and costs increasing, one of the reasons why it has survived thus far is because it owns it own limestone hill, which is the source of its raw materials.

By managing its quarry operations and controlling its raw material yields, the company has remained competitive.

Ipoh Limestone, an Environmental Management Challenge-6

Government Revenue

The state government earns its revenue from quarry operations. Whenever a lorry load of rock leaves the quarry, the lorry is weighed at the weighbridge and a royalty charged according to the weigh-bridge ticket.

This procedure applies to both the granite and limestone quarry operators. There are no additional charges for downstream processed products, for example, calcium carbonate powder.

However, if the limestone or granite rock is exported unprocessed as a raw material, the state government imposes an export levy.

According to Dr Kamaludin, the revenue earned from the limestone and granite industry amounts to RM50 million per year.


Producing calcium carbonate powder at Simpang Pulai
Producing calcium carbonate powder at Simpang Pulai

Early Quarries

The early limestone quarry owners who began 30 years ago had applied for a portion of a hill to begin their operations. Sometimes a hill would be owned by three quarries. The owners would carry out blasting on their side of the hill and when they had exhausted the lease on their side would have to leave a boundary between owners measuring 1 chain or 66 feet as part of the government requirement. This was a waste and would scar the landscape.

Simpang Pulai – Support Industries and Infrastructure

Ipoh Limestone, an Environmental Management Challenge-8
Chong Sook Kian

Dr Kamaludin attributed the reason for the large number of limestone quarries in Simpang Pulai to the quality of limestone found there. Perak Quarry Association (PQA) President, Chong Sook Kian, however, differed slightly. He said that logistics and infrastructure were what had prompted the proliferation of quarrying activities there.

Chong said that it was more cost effective to extract and sell limestone from Simpang Pulai than from Gua Musang, Kelantan which also has large deposits of limestone.

Acknowledging the abundance of quality limestone, Chong explained that when the tin industry collapsed, foundries in the Kinta Valley were willing to support the quarry players. In time, the quarries were the biggest users of foundry products, casting equipment parts and replacing wear and tear parts for their crushers.

Other related factors were logistics and nearby markets. Quarries use lorries to transfer their products to the ports of Penang and Port Klang. Their markets, which are made up of the paint, plastics and glove factories, are located on the west coast.

Interestingly, a multi-national company, who wished not to be named, confirmed that it used the Lumut Port, 70 km away, to ship its products to Singapore and Indonesia by barges and to India by sea vessels. “The service provided is most satisfactory,” said the company source.

Each quarry would use the services of at least two foundries, one mechanical and one electrical and five lorry transport companies.

According to Chong there are 64 quarries in Perak and each had an average of about 50 workers. Considering that each quarry engages the services of foundries, lorry transporters and other general services, the limestone and quarry industry has a sizeable workforce.

Multi-Nationals and New Technologies

In the early 2000s Imerys Minerals (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, a French minerals-based solutions provider started their limestone quarry at Simpang Pulai.

Unlike the local quarry operators, Imerys produces high-quality ground calcium carbonate (GCC) to a gauge which is finer than what most of the local operators are capable of producing.

In 2005 Imerys initiated an Environment Management System (EMS) which would make efforts to rehabilitate the bare landscape created by quarrying activities.

Ipoh Echo visited Imerys to view their EMS and met with their Quarry Manager, Mohd Yazid Mohd Dan. Yazid explained that the company’s environmental rehabilitation programme was to educate workers to comply with environmental health standards.

Ipoh Limestone, an Environmental Management Challenge-3
Imerys’ environmental rehabilitation programme creates visually pleasant images

To enable a sustainable programme, Imerys purchased the quarries adjacent to it and, subsequently, owned the whole hill.

It then constructed a road to the top and initiated a top-down quarrying operation. To mitigate the bared slopes, it collected the natural flora from the area, such as angsana, cherry trees and lemon grass and cultivated them in its nursery. They were subsequently replanted along the hill slopes ultimately presenting a greener and a more visually-pleasant image of the quarry as opposed to bare slopes.

According to Yazid, the replanted cherry trees had over the years managed to attract monkeys and squirrels back to the area.

The top-down quarry operation would eventually reduce the hill to ground zero and would then be used for other economic activities.

Ipoh Echo was alerted about the environmental rehabilitation work done by Imerys by Dr Kamaludin. Imerys’ approach to quarrying and environmental rehabilitation was very positive and, if done by all players, would improve the image of the industry.

PQA President Chong too agreed that the quarrying methods by the French multi-national company are safer, professional and environmentally friendly. However, cost and economies of scale will prevent local companies from doing the same.

Kamaludin stated that the whole of the Kinta Valley was underlain with limestone which translates to it having an infinite supply of limestone. As such “local companies should form groups and work towards rehabilitation” added Kamaludin.

Considering that there is an abundant supply of limestone, wouldn’t it be proper to initiate rehabilitation programmes now?


Ipoh Going Organic


By Lena Toon

Tell someone that you are going organic and most probably you will be greeted with a look that says “You must be rich”. Buying organic food and products inevitably cost more than the non-organic ones, however one must know that when they splurge on organic food they are saving themselves money from fewer trips to clinics and hospitals. Or so the devotees of the organic lifestyle claim. And judging from the plethora of organic and health food shops that have sprouted up in Ipoh in the past 15 years, the trend is growing in popularity.

Ipoh Going Organic 1


“We’re already exposed to so many chemicals in our daily lives, so the food we eat plays a very important role” – Angie Wong

What does Organic Mean?

There is often confusion in consumers’ minds about the labelling of ‘organic’. According to Angie Wong, one of the pioneers who opened one of the first organic shops, Healthy Concept, in Ipoh, the most obvious difference between organic and non-organic food is that organic ones do not use chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Only natural fertilizers are used in the process of growing organic vegetables and fruits, where plants are left to grow on its own without injecting hormones to speed up their growth. This is important health-wise as plants grown this way will develop its full nutritious value.

According to Angie, most commercially-grown plants contain growth hormones which are mixed into the water used in watering while livestock like chickens are fed with artificial feeds in their food to shorten the amount of time for them to grow to full size. These foods when eaten over time, may cause health problems such as early puberty in particular for girls and higher risks for cancer.

Ipoh Going Organic 2

GMO and Non-GMO Products

Angie also went on to explain about Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO, plants or animals which have had their DNA specifically modified or genetically engineered by scientists. While the scientific jury is still out on the long-term effects of consumption of GMO products, more and more people are seeking non-GMO.

Because organic farmers are not allowed to genetically modify their plants, it makes the consumption of their products a lot safer.

Clockwise: Organic multigrain bread from Healthy Concept, “Lui Cha” soup mee and daily set meal from Snergy Refreshment Centre
Clockwise: Organic multigrain bread from Healthy Concept, “Lui Cha” soup mee and daily set meal from Snergy Refreshment Centre

Healthy Concept

Residents of Ipoh are spoilt for choice when it comes to buying organic products here. Located in Ipoh Garden East, Healthy Concept opened in Ipoh 14 years ago and has withstood the test of time. “When we first opened, we didn’t have many suppliers and people were also not that health conscious,” Angie said, “After five years, business started picking up when people became more concerned about their health.”

Having studied nutrition in the United States, Angie had developed a passion for organic food and runs her shop with a highly personal touch. “I do not think of my shop as a place where people just come in and buy the products without understanding its uses, like a 7Eleven”, she added, “I prefer to give personal service and educate my customers on organic food’s benefits.”

When asked where she gets her supplies from, Angie said she imported her organic fruits from Australia and also some reliable sources in Malaysia, such as Cameron Highlands and Bukit Tinggi. Depending on customers’ demands, she may import her supplies as frequently as needed.

Some of Healthy Concept’s range of products
Some of Healthy Concept’s range of products

How do we know whether the products we buy are organic then? “A certain level of trust between customers and shop owners is needed”, Angie said. “While we can’t tell the difference just from sight, our taste buds will tell us once we’ve tried both, which is why customers will go back to them once they have tasted organic vegetables and fruits.”

She does caution however, not to change one’s diet too drastically after falling sick. A person used to eating lots of meat can’t go full vegan the next day as the body will not be able to cope. The same is also true in laying off a certain type of food completely, as different foods offer different nutrients that the body requires.

Angie also sells her own freshly-baked bread at her shop. Now adopting a new type of dough called sourdough, she said it is made without yeast and will be easier for the body to break down, lessening the chance of a bloated stomach.

“We’re already exposed to so many chemicals in our daily lives, so the food we eat plays a very important role,” Angie commented.

Penny Siew
Penny Siew

Grace Valley Organic

Another shop that Ipohites can go to is Grace Valley Organic which is located in Pasir Puteh. In business for more than ten years, shop owner Penny Siew studied holistic nutrition in KL before taking over the shop set up by her mother years ago.

Also one of the pioneers of the business in Ipoh, Grace Valley offers a variety of organic products from vegetables, fruits, baby products to everyday items like shampoos and detergents. “We also mix our own 7-grain, 9-grain and 10-grain rice, depending on the preferences of our customers,” Penny said. She also supplies them to shops in Ayer Tawar and KL.

“The mindset of people is very important when it comes to going organic, which is why such knowledge is best instilled from young. As our environment becomes more polluted, parents must encourage their children to exercise more, drink plenty of water and eat more greens,” she added.

Grace Valley also offers an enzymology test every few months that tests whether one’s blood is acidic. Acidic blood may result in a higher chance of getting hypertension, high cholesterol and even cancer. This is due to a diet that is full of meat and very little physical exercise that leads to the lack of oxygen in the blood.

Grace Valley Organic
Grace Valley Organic

One of the most popular products of the shop is Juvo, a natural raw meal drink filled with more than 60 healthy ingredients (including wholegrain, sea vegetables, fruits and mushrooms) to give customers the vitamins and minerals they need in their daily activities. Grace Valley also sells wholegrain and flour-free bread every Tuesday. Some of their organic products are also imported from US and Italy.

Penny also stresses the importance of eating natural food to prevent sickness and diseases, be it physically or spiritually. “At the end of the day, our immune system is our best doctor.”

Loh Lup Ming
Loh Lup Ming

Snergy Refreshment Centre

Located in Taman Mas, Falim, Snergy Refreshment Centre is not your typical organic shop. It is also an organic restaurant offering a wide variety of food on its menu that is made entirely of organic ingredients. The food offered includes different set meals daily, the famous Hakka dish ‘Lui Cha’, herbal soup, wholemeal noodles, vegetable salad, fruit juices and so on.

“I developed a passion to open this shop after eating this organic food steamboat in Cameron Highlands,” said shop owner Loh Lup Ming, “I tasted the difference when compared to non-organic veggie and I haven’t looked back since.”

Loh’s shop/café has a large customer base ranging from housewives to bankers and teachers. His shop can be seen overflowing with customers during lunch hour.

Supplies come from as far as New Zealand, Finland and Taiwan and the shop will often try to accommodate customers’ requests for certain products which they will source and import.

“We have a doctor specializing in cancer that comes from KL monthly to offer free consultation to customers and many of my customers have benefitted a lot from it,” Loh said.

Snergy Refreshment Centre
Snergy Refreshment Centre

Loh knows first-hand the benefits of eating organic food as he himself is a cancer survivor. “I used to be very chubby and fall sick easily due to my lifestyle of unhealthy eating.” Loh mentioned that he turned down chemotherapy as a form of treatment after reading a book named “Meaning of True Health” by a Taiwanese professor Chang Jia Rui.

Snergy also serves organic food in the cafe other than selling organic products
Snergy also serves organic food in the cafe other than selling organic products

“Not everyone is suited to undergo chemotherapy,” he said. “I suffered from some severe side effects from the medicine which got me looking for alternatives. It was then that I changed my diet to eating organic food but I did it gradually. Nursing back one’s health after sickness is a gradual process and mustn’t be rushed.” he added.

Switching to eating organic was definitely his turning point and he started to gain his precious health back after adopting a different diet. Now happily married, Loh runs Snergy with his family and claims he hasn’t paid a visit to a doctor for a long time.

Healthy Concept
71, Jalan Medan Ipoh 6, Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh,
31400 Ipoh, Perak.  Tel: 05-547 6902

Grace Valley Organic
5 Hala Pinji 2, Pasir Puteh, 31650 Ipoh, Perak.
Tel: 05-254 6412

Snergy Refreshment Centre
15 Jalan Mas 1, Taman Mas, Falim, 30100 Ipoh, Perak.
Tel: 05-282 2088

Ramadan 2013 – Sharing A Culture


Ramadan, the month-long fasting period in the Muslim calendar that precedes the festival of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, started on Wednesday July 10.

The Ramadan Bazaar at Stadium Perak
The Ramadan Bazaar at Stadium Perak

The weather that afternoon was hot and dry and as usual during Ramadan, the stall holders who rent Ipoh City Council’s Ramadan bazaars dotted around the city, begin to populate these stalls around 3pm and activity begins. As in previous years Ipoh Echo sent a team to check out the various bazaars.

Ramadan Bazaars Gaining Popularity With All Ethnic Groups

Without a doubt the food was superlative at most of the locations visited but it was not just Muslims shopping for themselves and their families who were milling around. As more and more people came, getting closer to the time for breaking fast, there was more than a small number of non- Muslims seen at the bazaars picking out food either for tea or for their night’s dinner.

Medan Gopeng

The Ramadan bazaar at Medan Gopeng has 137 stalls that offer a wide range of buka puasa (breaking of fast) delicacies. Ipoh Echo decided to meet the people behind the food and spoke to some of them.

At Medan Gopeng traders (l-r) Ainy, Roslida and Erina
At Medan Gopeng bazaar traders (l-r) Ainy, Roslida and Erina

Ainy Nurul Hidayu together with her daughter Roslida Abdul Rahman has a stall that sells the full range of dishes for a meal. While mum Ainy prepares the main dishes like grilled fish, Roslida focuses on the desserts like doughnuts and pelita jagung (corn pudding). They have been selling their Ramadan goodies here for over 13 years. The rest of the other months of the year they have a premises close to Carsem known as Sri Permata Corner.

A few stalls down is Rina Catering. Its owner Ms Erina Wati has been trading at this bazaar for a “long time, since I was young”. Erina, now almost 40, took over the business from her mother and has an outlet at the nearby Megoplex shopping mall. She sells the main food dishes but here she prepacks Nasi Briyani which moves off the counter fast.

Murtabak Yop's Ahmad Firdaus (left) with brother Ahmad Zaidi ( right)
Murtabak Yop’s (left photo) Ahmad Firdaus (left) with brother Ahmad Zaidi ( right)

Ahmad Firdaus, in his late 30s, runs his stall called Murtabak Yop, which as its name implies,  sells only murtabak.  He has been selling murtabak for 26 years at the night markets around Ipoh. At the night markets he sells on average 400 murtabak per day. However, at this bazaar he averages 800 murtabak per day. His normal workforce is four but during the Ramadan month he has eight workers while his brother Ahmad Zaidi, 42, a teacher, comes by to help out.

Firdaus’s preparation of his murtabak is like an operations floor with one team preparing the ingredients, another wrapping up the dough and another cooking over the hot plate all working hurriedly in anticipation of the after-work crowd.

Mydin Hassan, 64, of Mydin Cendol is another food trader who has been trading here for 15 of his 18 years in this line. Unlike the food operators, Mydin sells takeaway cendol and says that his earnings are less than on normal days where he sells in the area around nearby Ipoh Jaya.

For all of the above operators here with the exception of Mydin, they acknowledge that their daily Ramadan earnings here are, on average, better by 25 per cent.


Tanjung Rambutan

At Tg Rambutan, Iniza Ayam Percik run by siblings Zaleha and Zawawi Zambri
At Tg Rambutan, Iniza Ayam Percik run by siblings Zaleha and Zawawi Zambri

Over at Tanjung Perdana, Tanjung Rambutan, there are 85 stalls at that Ramadan bazaar selling a similar variety of fare. Siblings Zaleha and Zawawi Zambri have been operating their outlet Iniza Ayam Percik since this location started four years ago. The siblings have been in this business for 16 years, having inherited the business from their father who now buys the chickens while the siblings do all the rest. Their ayam percik is cut into various parts such as thigh, breast, wings, etc. and sold at different prices.


Bercham Ramadan Bazaar 1 Malaysia

(left photo) Azman Shah has labelled Bercham (Mobil) Ramadan 'Bazaar 1 Malaysia' because of its multi racial customers
(left photo) Azman Shah has labelled Bercham (Mobil),  Ramadan ‘Bazaar 1 Malaysia’ because of its multi racial customers

The Ramadan bazaar at Bercham (Mobil) has only 15 stalls but does a brisk business. A large number of their customers are non-Muslim. Ms Yee who works and lives nearby this location was buying murtabak and has been doing so for two years, “it has variety and is nice”.

In fact trader Azman Shah, who claims to sell the best ‘mini murtabak in Bercham’, dubbed this location as ‘Bazaar 1 Malaysia’ because of its multi-racial customers. Azman who admitted that he works as a clerical staff with CIMB Bank Ipoh Garden, has been selling at this location for seven years.

Sharing a Culture

Ramadan bazaars no longer belong exclusively to Muslims breaking fast. The variety and delectable food have won over the palates of the other ethnic groups and even tourists are flocking to the bazaars, tempted by the smells and sizzle of the large choice on display.

Non muslim residents S. Muniandy at Medan Gopeng and IPG Students Bernadette, Eugene,Nisha and Lyerilye at Tg Rambutan
Non muslim residents, S. Muniandy and family at Medan Gopeng and IPG Students Bernadette, Eugene, Nisha and Lydrielyn at Tg Rambutan look forward to the annual event

Nearby residents like the family of S. Muniandy look forward to the annual event as they stroll to Medan Gopeng at 4pm in the afternoon to buy kuih for their tea. Similarly for third-year students of Institut Pendidikan Guru, Hulu Kinta, Tanjung Rambutan, the variety of food is a welcome break from their daily fare and they had been patronising the Tg. Rambutan bazaar each year.

As I doubled back to Medan Gopeng before the breaking of fast at 7.33pm that first evening I stopped at Jamek Mosque, Kg Melayu, approximately 400 metres before the bazaar. Earlier a friend informed me he normally broke his fast at the mosque and invited me to join him.

At Jamek Mosque, Kg Melayu retiree Mukhtar Ahmad (right photo) together with  his congregation await to break their fast
At Jamek Mosque, Kg Melayu retiree Mukhtar Ahmad (right photo) together with his congregation await to break their fast

However, he was not there but retiree Encik Mukhtar Ahmad, 67, was present. Mukhtar, who is a member of the mosque committee said that for him breaking fast at the mosque had a special meaning for him which he enjoyed.

Cleaned out trays and stoves at Medan Gopeng. Roslida, Erina and workers of Murtabak Yop after breaking their fast
Cleaned out trays and stoves at Medan Gopeng. Roslida, Erina and workers of Murtabak Yop after breaking their fast

After the meal, I headed over to Medan Gopeng to see Roslida loading empty trays into her van, Erina playing with her grandkids amongst empty food trays and the murtabak workers having a meal next to their cleaned hot plates.

A Muslim Ramadan no doubt, but a sharing of a culture in which all Ipohites can participate.

James Gough

Stadium Perak Ramadan Bazaar

The Stadium Perak Ramadan Bazaar is one of the more popular seasonal food bazaars in operation during the fasting month of Ramadan.


It is located at the stadium’s spacious car park where over 400 part-time and professional traders sell foodstuffs to eager buyers. What is most suitable about this bazaar is its locality and accessibility. The din created by an over-zealous crowd coupled with the after-office traffic adds on to the attraction. It is as if the whole Ipoh is being aroused by the aroma of barbecued chicken and beef, which seems to hang in the air.

Mohd Zahari, 35, a bona fide Ipohite and a fitness instructor by profession, has been operating a stall at the bazaar since 2010. Asked what made him do the unthinkable. “It’s not much about the money but the fun of doing business once a year,” he answered. Mohd Zahari sells fried kway teow and fried mee. He lays the piping hot noodles on huge trays and sells them in packets. Priced at RM2 a packet, the noodles are a bargain. Zahari has his regulars who begin to patronise his stall soon after opening time at 4pm.

Ramadan 2013 – Sharing a Culture - 10

Majuri Hafiz, 28, is another of the faceless traders who have been plying their trade at the stadium bazaar. He has been selling Ayam Golek Madu (Roast Honey Chicken) since 2008. “The demand for my roasted chicken is high. I get to sell over 200 chickens a day. It’s tough but the money is good,” he said. Majuri marinates the birds overnight using a number of herbs, spices and condiments. “It’s a recipe passed on by my late grandmother,” he said. His whole chicken sells for RM12 a piece.

Ramadan 2013 – Sharing a Culture - 11

Another stall which is a hit with patrons is Robaza BBQ. Owner Zakaria Musa, 51, sells skewered chicken, lamb and beef barbecued over fire. The aroma is an attraction in itself. It is easy to locate Zakaria’s stall as it is at the entrance to the car park. The sight of a milling crowd that grows by the hour is a good indication of the stall’s popularity. Lamb sells at RM4.80 a stick, beef at RM4 while chicken at RM3.

The three are just a cross-section of the many that do business at the stadium car park during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Rosli Mansor

Remembering Perak’s Turbulent Past


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).

Remembering Perak’s Turbulent Past-3

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.

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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.