Tag Archives: Ipoh Echo Issue 144

Ipoh Property Getting Noticed

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By Sylvia Looi

Ipoh PropertyDevelopers in Perak are bullish over property development in the state with some feeling its capital Ipoh has finally entered the major league of property investment by getting noticed. CEO of Superboom Projects Peter Chan, the developer of the award winning condominium project The Haven in Tambun, said the lull in the building industry currently being experienced elsewhere in the country is a good sign for Perak and Ipoh in particular.

Ipoh is One of the Least Risky Places for Investment

Peter Chan, CEO of Superboom Projects
Peter Chan, CEO of Superboom Projects

“Buyers will look for the least risky places to invest and Ipoh will definitely be one of them,” he told Ipoh Echo in a recent interview.

Chan, who has stayed in Ipoh for the past 10 years, based his opinion on the leads and lags factor. “Ipoh is fast becoming the number 1 property investment destination as seen from the steady rise in property prices here over the year,” he said. “The time has come for the successful to own a second home or a getaway home,” he added.

Citing The Haven as an example, Chan said locals formed the bulk of purchasers. Chan foresees that Ipoh will be the next centre of attention in the coming years.

“Ipoh has a good prospect with the Electric Train Service and the extension of the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport runway which will lead to more flights and more destinations being offered,” he said. The low cost of living in Ipoh makes it another attraction to investors, added Chan. “Best town in the world is Ipoh with its laid-back lifestyle,” he enthused.

 

Ipoh Property
Tumbuh Merata’s project at Jalan Pasir Puteh

Double Storey Doubled

Agreeing with Chan, Tumbuh Merata Sdn Bhd director Tony Khoo said the price of double-storey projects in the city had almost doubled since three years ago. “A double-storey house for RM180,000 then, can now fetch between RM290,000 and RM300,000,” he revealed. Khoo was however quick to add that property prices are still relatively low in Ipoh as compared to other cities.

Khoo added that most purchasers of properties in Ipoh now, are middle income earners with more disposable incomes. “Compared to 10 years ago, properties in Ipoh are being snapped up by Ipohitess working overseas and planning to retire in the city,” he noted.

The local property scene, according to Khoo, lacks medium-cost units, which he blamed on the high land costs. “Coupled with high building costs, developers cannot sell their projects at a bargain,” he explained. He said, however, that purchasers would weigh in factors like locality, whether a project is gated, its design and pricing before deciding on investing in a project. “Bank policies are also affecting our sales as we can’t close a deal if prospective buyers can’t get a bank loan,” he added.

Khoo said projects with safety features will definitely be a plus point for purchasers when considering a property to invest in due to growing concern over high crime rate. “I would say 70% of buyers will go for it if they can afford it,” he said, adding that the only drawback of a gated community is the high monthly maintenance charges they have to incur.

 

Ipoh Property
Kinta Real Estate development

Locality

Kinta Real Estate Sdn Bhd managing director, Dato Poo Tak Kiau, however believes that the location of a project determines the marketability of a project. Citing Bandar Baru Meru as an example, Poo said due to plans to relocate Government offices there, projects there are being snapped up like hot cakes.

“Even before the dust for the first phase project has settled, investors are queuing up to purchase the second phase,” he said. Citing Meru Desa Park as another example, Poo said the price has appreciated from more than RM308,000 to more than RM400,000 within six months.

In Bandar Meru Raya, a 24”x90” terrace house project which was fetching RM400,000 previously is now changing hands at RM600,000.

With a hypermarket, central bus station, hotel, convention centre, education centres and amusement park being built in Bandar Meru Raya, Poo reckons that when the entire Bandar Meru Raya is fully developed, the prices of properties will skyrocket.

Poo said another location that investors should be on the lookout for is Kampar. “With Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, there will be more demand from students for accommodation,” he said. Citing the Taman Mahsuri Impian as an example, Poo said investors are assured of rental returns. “Purchasers can be assured of between 13% and 27% return on their investment,” he added.

Loans

On complaints by some developers that difficulties in obtaining loans for buyers are causing them to lose some deals, Bank Negara Malaysia said this was to ensure individuals do not borrow beyond their means.

In a report on online news portal The Malaysian Insider on March 22, Bank Negara Malaysia assistant governor, Dr Sukhdave Singh, was quoted as saying that “while easy loan approvals may give a boost to economic activity in the short term, there would be a price to pay in the long term that would be borne by the whole economy”.

“Credit guidelines are not intended to deny loans to genuine borrowers with genuine needs and who can afford to repay,” Dr Sukhdave Singh was quoted as saying.

The ruling came into effect in November 2010 when the central bank announced a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 70% for third housing loans to curb excessive investment and speculative activity in the residential property market. Financing for the purchase of first and second homes was, however, not affected by the ruling.

The central bank said the measure would help ensure housing remained affordable and promote home ownership among Malaysians, which was an important item on the national agenda.

Perak chapter of Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (REHDA)
Dato’ Francis Lee, REHDA Chairman

REHDA Confident of Property Boom in Coming Decade

The Perak chapter of Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (REHDA) is confident that Perak’s property market will take off in the coming decade.

Its chairman Dato’ Francis Lee said that apart from the laggard pricing from Peninsular Malaysia, Perak’s house prices are also increasingly laggard from the cost of delivery of the housing development.

“With the increase in household income over the last few years and the current low interest regime, the affordability index is at an all time high for the intended target group of purchasers,” he told Ipoh Echo through an email interview.

Lee said that the Government’s measures to curb speculation by way of a revision of rates to ‘Real Property Gains Tax’ and a 70% ceiling on housing loans, would have little impact on the housing market scene in Perak.

“The other positive measures implemented to promote home ownership by way of ‘My First Home Scheme’ and ‘1 Malaysia Public Housing Scheme’ (PR1MA) will be supportive of the housing industry in Perak,” he said.

Lee noted that investors contemplating a purchase of a property in Perak will be comforted by an assurance that the prospective property is comparatively cheap and defensive in value and has capacity for strong capital appreciation into the future.

Perak Cheap by Comparison

“A cursory review of the average transacted price of housing properties within Peninsular Malaysia for 2010 and 2011 shows that the price of properties in Perak for the corresponding period is indeed very cheap by comparison” he said, pointing out that the average transacted price for properties in Perak for 2011, consisting of transactions in both the primary and secondary market, is RM122,275.

“This ranks the pricing of housing property in Perak at the tenth spot in Peninsular Malaysia and only ahead of Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu,” he added.

“As the major variance for the cost of delivery of housing properties within Peninsular Malaysia is the land cost, there is no rationale for the vast laggard pricing and the prices for housing in Perak will inevitably move upwards in the coming years,” he noted.

Current Stock of Housing

Lee said for low-cost housing, there were 90,606 units in Perak in 2011 representing 23.32% of total housing stock. “This is largely represented as mandatory delivery of low-cost housing by housing developers under corresponding state guidelines,” he said.

Lee noted that single-storey terrace, two to three-storey terraced and detached houses form the bulk of the housing stock in Perak, tallying at 264,667 units or 67.83% of total stock.

“With the increasing household income of the last few years and a growing affluent population, there will be a corresponding growth in the percentage of delivery of semi detached, detached and condominiums in the coming years,” he added.

As the ‘Population and Housing Census of Malaysia – Preliminary Count Report 2010’ reports that there are 559,405 households in Perak as at census date, this would mean that 169,188 households in Perak are living in non-conventional housing in the form of small holdings with rural residence, shop houses with residential facilities and residential premises built on TOL (temporary occupation licence) land, said Lee.

“The fact that the price of housing in Perak is much laggard from Peninsular Malaysia pricing, it would be fair to infer that there is no element of a property bubble subsisting in Perak,” he said.

Appreciating Teachers

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National Teachers' day - SK Raja Perempuan Muzwin, Kuala Kangsar The Guru Penyayang (Compassionate Teacher) Programme was launched by Education Director-General, Dato’ Seri Abdul Ghafar Mahmud at the school hall  in conjunction with the National Teachers’ Day celebration recently.

The programme’s objective is to establish a closer relationship between students and teachers. It is expected to be implemented by all schools in the country by year’s end though it is not made compulsory.

The programme requires students and teachers alike to get to know one another on a more personal basis. Students are encouraged to show their appreciation for their teachers throughout the year and not only on teachers’ day. Teachers, on the other hand, will reward students’ achievements and are required to remember their birthdays.

A mentor-mentee relationship will therefore be established. Students will then be able to confide in their teachers should they have problems at home.

To get the event going, a group of teachers greeted students as they arrived in school. Teachers and students whose birthdays fell in the month of May received goodie bags and cards from the school. A congenial start to the programme was thus ensured.

Tiffany

Ipoh Restaurant - homemade noodles

SeeFoon relishes oodles of noodles in Greentown

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See Foon Chan-KoppenBy See Foon Chan-Koppen

 

I often drive past the bright orange signboard emblazoned with the name Fonzie on the way to or from the Ipoh Echo office in Greentown and although it evokes memories of that popular TV series in the ‘70s and ‘80s ‘Happy Days’ which featured the loveable rogue the Fonze, as is usual in Ipoh, nothing piques my curiosity unless it is recommended by a friend. And as usual, my partner-in-crime, fellow foodie, Ginla Foo got me interested.

Located very conveniently two doors away from the Excelsior Hotel, sinFonzie actually dates from the ‘70s, having been established 35 years ago. Alan Wong, the current chef/proprietor took over the restaurant in 1997, bringing with him a wealth of experience from 10 years with Overseas Restaurant.

Ipoh Restaurant - homemade noodlesIpoh Restaurant - homemade noodlesIpoh Restaurant - homemade noodlesIpoh Restaurant - homemade noodlesIpoh Restaurant - homemade noodlesHomemade Noodles

Alan, who’s a meticulous perfectionist when it comes to all natural and healthy ingredients, tells me that his specialty lies in their homemade noodles: both wheat and rice. Unlike most other restaurants who buy their noodles ready-made from factories, he even makes their signature yeemeen by frying their homemade noodles himself. This way, he can assure customers of their freshness and eliminate the possibility of rancidity from stale oil.

This is not your banquet-style restaurant but a place to bring friends and family for hearty noodles and rice, accompanied by a few selected dishes.

We started with a selection of their appetizers or as listed on the menu, their snacks. The vegetable roll, vegetables wrapped in bean-curd sheets and deep fried, were crispy at the edges and succulent in the middle –RM4.00 for two pieces. The fried dumpling or Gao Tze came with vinegar and sliced fresh ginger – RM4.00 for three pieces. The homemade fish balls were extra large and came in a soup – RM4.00 for two pieces.

Hong Kong Style Congee

As we were a large group on this particular day, we proceeded to order a variety of their noodle and rice dishes. My first taste of their porridge or congee justified our visit. Evoking taste memories of the congee I used to eat in Hong Kong; smooth, semi fluid, the rice reduced to creaminess that only hours of simmering can create, this congee had meat balls and egg, umami to the last spoonful – RM15.00 for a claypot enough for three or four people sharing other dishes. Other congee can be ordered with fish, abalone, or conpoy (dried scallops). But the base for all their congee comes with Chinese Kam Wah ham and eggs.

 Noodles Galore

Then came oodles of noodles. The Lo Shu Fun (short fat rice noodles), literally translated as ‘Mice’ noodles, with seafood, tomatoes and a touch of Chinese rice wine, came in a creamy sauce with the addition of  Zhejiang vinegar, one of the finest in Chinese black vinegar. I loved the tangy mildly tart taste of the vinegar which imbued the sauce with its own unique character – RM18.00 for a claypot.

This was followed by the quaintly named Lat Duck Hoi Sum (spicy hot and happy), rice noodles in a creamy sauce laced with evaporated milk and with enough chilli spiciness to give bite without searing and tear-ing. Topped with their homemade crispy bean curd skin (Fu Pei) sprinkle, this was delectable – RM18.00.

Piece de Resistance

More noodles ahead as we tucked into their piece de resistance Prawn Noodle soup, homemade wheat noodles in a well-simmered soup redolent of pork bones and prawn shells, topped by large prawns and served with a few sprigs of green – RM28.00 for grade 2 prawns and RM48 for grade 1 (to be ordered one day ahead).

Another of their signature noodles is their claypot-braised Yeemeen which Alan proudly informed me that because they are homemade and not rancid, is not soaked in water prior to braising (as is the usual method). This allows the noodles to soak up all the braising liquids from the prawns, meat and mushrooms that up the dish – RM28.00 per claypot.

Already groaning with the surfeit, the Lemon Grass homemade hollow rice noodles that came in a ‘Tom Yam’ type of broth with Chinese shitake mushrooms, cabbage and prawns – RM9.00 per portion, was the icing on the cake.

In between the group sharing the congee and noodles, we also ordered their 60-day old free range chicken. This was the blanched chicken which arrived without breast meat, one of the special touches that proprietor Alan Wong pointed out was their signature, given that most Chinese prefer the dark meat – RM13.00 for a portion to serve three or four people.

Fonzie serves a variety of healthy drinks which Alan is more than willing to recommend. They also do take-outs.

Restaurant sinFonzie
53 Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil
Tel: 05-2558481       Alan Wong: 012-5587988
Hours: 12-3.30pm and 5.30-10pm
Open 24/7 except for long holidays. Call to find out.


“Kheer and Cha” for Vasakhi

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The Sikh Awareness Event is like a tonic. You can be feeling down due to watching your favourite football team get beaten and then, like magic, the event’s buzz envelops you and you are all in happiness and joy. Well at least, this was the case for me.

Sikh awareness eventWhen we first arrived at the Gurdwara Sahib Tanjung Rambutan at 10am, we were rather disappointed with the number of people there. After an hour, the gloom lifted immediately once we saw the familiar faces of friends impatiently walking towards us with smiles on their faces. We were encompassed by the atmosphere of buzzing excitement in anticipation of the coming hours.

We were all busy packing “kheer (sweet rice porridge) and cha (tea)” into tupperware and arranging them into their specific boxes. Where the girls and women were busy packing, the boys helped with the loading of the boxes into cars. Everyone was in a jolly mood; laughter filled the air.

Then we all headed towards the orphanage in Tambun. On arrival, the kids were very excited to see us. We started off with a small introduction of ourselves. We then played football with the kids, and had a chat with them. We also managed to take pictures with them. During teatime, we gave them “kheer n cha” which they loved. We also told them what Vasakhi was all about.

At 3.30pm, the group headed towards Lost World of Tambun. Upon arrival, the girls started unpacking the boxes while the boys set up the tent and had a short brief on our responsibilities and other necessary information. Immediately, the group spread out and started serving “kheer and cha” to everyone.

Not forgetting the Dholis (drummers) who played a big role in alerting and entertaining the public with nonstop beats. They caught everyone’s attention. We also had photo sessions with the general public besides explaining to them what Vasakhi was all about, gave them cards and handed out pamphlets. Most of them enjoyed the “kheer n cha”, though most of them had never had kheer and it was something which was very new to them. In addition, the public also got to know that we as Punjabis celebrate Vasakhi.

About 600 cups of “kheer n cha” were given out. We had very good response because in the end we managed to distribute all the “kheer and cha” we brought. We started packing and cleaning up ready to head home at about 6pm.

The main purpose in organising this event was to let the public know that Vasakhi is celebrated by Sikhs on April 14 every year. This day marks the birth of the Khalsa (baptised Sikhs, with an unique identity and discipline), in the year 1699. From that moment on, Sikhs were gifted with names Singh and Kaur by our 10th Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

In a nutshell, the event was a success and we hope to organise a similar event next year.

Nisha Bhandal

Eye Health - Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. Gill

Eye Health – Pterygium

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah
Dr S.S. Gill, Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah

Ipoh Echo’s Eye Health series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. Gill talking to us about Pterygium.

What are the causes of a pterygium?

Eye Health - Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GillA pterygium (pronounced with the “p” silent) is a wedge-shaped growth of thin tissue (conjunctiva) that covers the white outer surface of the eye (sclera). It may involve one or both eyes. It may remain small or may grow large enough to interfere with vision. When someone has a pterygium, it will be clearly visible to others and seen as a fleshy, reddish growth commonly affecting the inner corner of the eye.

The cause is not really known but there are some observations. Pterygium occurs more often in people who are excessively exposed to sunlight and wind. It is due to the chronic exposure to high ultraviolet-light.

It is also seen more in individuals who have eye irritation due to low humidity, dusty and smoky conditions. Patients who suffer from underlying dry eyes may also be more prone to developing a pterygium.

It is therefore seen more amongst farmers, fishermen, golfers and in those people living near the equator.

What are the symptoms?

Pterygium often has no symptoms. A fleshy growth commonly on the inner aspect of the eye will be seen. It is painless except when it  becomes inflamed. When this happens, it becomes red and swollen due to the dilated blood vessels in the pterygium.

In some patients itchiness of the eye or a dry sensation may occur. An increasing need to change spectacle power may also occur when the pterygium grows large because it has a tendency to induce astigmatism resulting in blurred vision.

In advanced cases the pterygium can grow over the clear part of the front of the eye (cornea). When this happens it obscures the optical centre of the clear part of the eye (cornea) resulting in significant loss of vision.

Are there any tests that need to be done?

Testing of a person’s eyesight will need to be done because a pterygium may induce astigmatism in the early stage. In the late stage, it may block a person’s vision completely. The eye doctor will need to do a routine slit-lamp eye examination in order to determine the extent of eye involvement. an assessment of the amount of tear production would be helpful in order to look for underlying associated Dry Eyes.

What is the treatment?

In the early stages, no invasive treatment is needed. A person is usually advised to wear protective sunglasses whenever exposed to sunlight or windy conditions. Any underlying dry eyes will need to be treated properly in order to prevent progression of the pterygium.

In cases where the pterygium grows to the extent that it blocks vision or develops symptoms of inflammation that are hard to control, then it should be surgically removed and the outcome is usually good in most patients. However, a pterygium may return after it is removed. Wearing protective sunglasses and a broad hat to prevent the exposure to sunlight is advised.

For more information, contact Gill Eye Specialist Centre at  05-5455582, email: gilleyecentre@dr.com or visit www.fatimah.com.my.

Zambry Commends Teachers

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national teachers' dayDatuk Seri DiRaja Zambry Abd Kadir showed his emotional side during a dinner speech in conjunction with the 41st National-level Teacher’s Day celebration at his residence recently.

The Chief Minister shed tears when he recalled his childhood days. He alluded to his formative years by mentioning the hardships he and his family faced in Pulau Pangkor. “At first, I didn’t have any vision but my teachers changed all that. Now look where I am today. Whoever we are, it all starts from the guidance given by our teachers.”

Nearly a thousand teachers from all over Perak attended the dinner held at the banquet hall, an annexe to the chief minister’s residence. Zambry took the opportunity to launch 15 books which were authored by teachers from around the nation. Coming in different genres, the books were meticulously written to help readers, especially students, to broaden their knowledge.

Othman Bin Mat Ali, 55, the principal of SK Kg Senta, Bidor was glad that the Perak government was doing its bit to honour the contributions of teachers.

More, however, could be done for those in the teaching profession. According to Abdul Jalil Abdul Hamid, 56, teachers should be given their due recognition via promotions and salary increments.

Vinesh

Century Ride 2012 – Bigger than before

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The sixth 160-km Century Ride Malaysia event is back and it is bigger than ever before. The event which will be held on July 15 has already registered 1,600 participants as of May.

Zainol in brown jacket presenting the cheque to Chong (in blue shirt)

The Chairman of Kinta Road Runners Club Ipoh, Chong Him Shoong, the organiser of the event said he was overwhelmed by the positive response describing it as ‘phenomenal’ and indicated that the club would stop accepting participants at 1,700 participants.

Chong made the announcement at the launch of the event which was attended by State Exco for Culture, Youth and Sport Dato’ Zainol Fadzi bin Haji Paharudin together with the directors of the various government departments such as the Fire, Police and JPJ.

Also present were the directors of Tourism Malaysia and Perak Tourism and a host of sponsors for the event.

During the launch, Dato’ Zainal praised the organisers for organising the Century Ride annually saying that since he first flagged off the event two years ago, “the participants have been increasing from 900 to 1200 till 1600 this year”.

Zainol later presented a cheque of RM30,000 to the organisers on behalf of the state government.

Century Ride is not a race but rather a ride where one goes through a process of discovering one’s hidden strength and potential. It attracts two primary types of cyclists, the seasoned athlete who trains hard to master this marathon event and the cyclist whose aim is simply to complete the distance.

The Sponsor for this years's Century Ride

Organising chairman Alvin Chooi explained that they had to cap the number of participants at 1700 for reasons of safety and efficient organisation adding that traffic and course control would be a challenge this year.

This year’s routing will be flagged off at 7am from Kinta Riverfront Hotel and will traverse through Silibin – Ipoh/Lumut Highway to Parit – Karai – Lintang – Lasah – Ulu Kuang – Chemor and Kuala Kangsar Road and back to the hotel.

Tourism Officials Norshamsida and Fathil give CRM the thumbs-up

When asked for the opinions from tourism officials both Norshamsida Abdul Rahman, the State Director from Tourism Malaysia and Abdul Fathil Ghani, the CEO of Perak Tourism, gave the event the thumbs up saying the event is a positive development especially as this is Visit Perak Year.

JAG

On Your Bike!

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By Mariam Mokhtar

Bicycle-friendly Amsterdam

In April, *Perak Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir went around Ipoh and the nearby areas on his bicycle claiming that he preferred this method of meeting Perakians, to his usual walkathon.

On April 1 he visited the Kinta Heights flats, Cherry Park apartments in Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and the Ipoh Municipal Council flats in Jalan Ashby.

A few weeks later, he led a group of 700 cyclists on another 50‑km tour around Ipoh. He started his ride at the crack of dawn to visit Kampung Ulu Chepor in Chemor, Kampung Manjoi, Kampung Temiang and Kampung Seri Kinta. According to the MB, cycling enabled him to meet the people and hence address the issues of cleanliness and clogged drains.

“I prefer this approach to meet the people instead of the normal formal visits. This way, people feel free to mix with us and share problems affecting them. The bicycle tour attracted many from the younger generation from schools, colleges, universities as well as the working community. I feel this is the best way we can mingle without protocols”.

The MB’s attempt to meet Perakians is commendable but has attracted mixed responses. “He has hit on a bright idea but will he keep it up and look into the many problems each community faces? Someone said he is only emulating what the Penang CM started in 2009.”

A resident of Greentown made a barbed comment, “The MBs in Malaysia act more like health inspectors checking drains and rubbish. This shows a breakdown in the basic services provided by the state.”

Another person was more sanguine, “I hope all politicians from both sides of the political divide will meet the rakyat in this way.”

Many of Ipoh’s residents, especially its students, once relied on bicycles as their normal mode of transport. With more roads, an increase in heavy traffic and an abundance of inconsiderate drivers, cyclists have been slowly edged off their bicycles. The lack of an efficient public transport system has forced people to use their cars or motorbikes, thus increasing traffic congestion.

Zambry may have found bicycling in and around Ipoh a thrilling experience. He was surrounded by several other cyclists and no doubt, would have had a police escort and dedicated traffic police presence to control traffic flow.

What of the normal, everyday bicycle user? Some claim that they put their lives at risk once they negotiate Ipoh’s roads. Lorry and bus drivers claim not to see them. Other road users have no consideration for them at all.

Two years ago in Bercham, an 11-year-old pupil of SJKC Bercham was cycling to school when he was hit by a school bus at a junction. The upshot of the tragedy was that the chairman of the school, advised parents not to allow their children to cycle to school.

This knee-jerk reaction is misleading and the statement was issued before the facts were established. Despite this, dangerous drivers should be punished in a court of law, and guidance should be given to all road-users who are not well-versed in road safety.

Not all parents own cars or motorbikes, or have the time to ferry their children everywhere. Some can ill-afford the excessive petrol costs or private van-hire charges. Even with reasonable bus-fares, not every child may live near a bus route.

We talk of wanting a greener nation, with a reduced carbon footprint. We desire an environment of reduced pollution, less congestion and safer roads for all, especially pedestrians and bicyclists. It would help if cycle lanes and cycle racks outside shops or offices were provided. Visitors to Amsterdam, London and Paris, will have noticed the hordes of bicyclists in cycle lanes. Bicycle-couriers travel faster in these cities during peak hours. If Ipohites adopted this attitude, we’ll have a less polluted city and fewer obese children and adults.

Road safety is everyone’s responsibility, including the bicycle users. Cyclists share some of the blame in accidents and they must be aware of the basic highway rules.

Motorists complain of cyclists riding without lights when it is dark or riding on the wrong side of the road and pedestrians fear cyclists mowing them down when they ride on the pavements. Ignoring red lights or not using hand signals, to indicate their intention to turn, will only increase the risk of an accident. Straying into the path of a vehicle is another problem associated with cyclists.

Although wearing a helmet is a personal choice, the most important thing is for cyclists to wear clothes that make them visible to other road users.

In major cities around the world, some mayors and leaders cycle to work as a matter of course and not part of a publicity stunt. If Zambry would also like to encourage a greener and healthier lifestyle, he could make several provisions for the state government to improve road-conditions, have strict enforcement and build a highly efficient public transport system. Education is key, but involvement at state level is critical, at all times and not just prior to an election.

*Sources: The Star and The New Straits Times

Finding Solutions to Bercham’s Traffic Woes

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Bercham Councillor David Lai has been consistently trying to improve the traffic flow in his zone, Bercham.

Map of proposed traffic flow.

This time around he is proposing to improve the traffic flow for traffic originating from Taman Bercham Bestari, where Giant hypermarket is located, going across onto Jalan Bercham main road in the direction towards Bercham town.

The congestion from the Lintasan Perajurit 17 traffic lights till the Tesco Extra junction began in March when the entrance road into Bercham, from the PLUS highway via Taman Bercham Bistari, was opened simultaneously with the opening of the Giant hypermarket.

(4th from left) Councilor Lai at busy Bercham intersection

The problem of congestion was created when traffic originating from Taman Bercham Bistari wanted to go towards Bercham town and Ipoh Garden East via Lintasan Perajurit 17. During the peak hours from 5.00-7.00pm the congestion in the area can be quite chaotic, “during which time accidents have occurred” added Lai.

Marcus Lau, who manages the Caltex petrol station on Jalan Bercham confirmed Lai’s findings saying that “the number of customers during the peak time has declined since March because they are unable to drive into my station at that time”.

Lai will submit his traffic improvement proposal to Ipoh City Council’s engineering section at the end of May and anticipates the work will be completed within the month of June.

Lai (3rd from left) at the Tambun Road intersection

Lai then went to check on upgrading work being carried out at the slip road from the highway heading south leading onto Jalan Tambun. This will enable traffic to immediately turn right onto Jalan Tambun and immediately head towards Ipoh. The current flow has traffic heading towards Ipoh having to make a U-turn at Taman Tambun. The upgrading work will widen the existing road to allow for two lanes one heading towards Tambun and the other heading towards Ipoh. Traffic lights will be located at the intersection and will subsequently be synchronized with another two existing traffic lights to enable smooth traffic flow. The works was started in April and at the time of the visit was 30% completed. The total cost of this upgrade is RM400,000 and is anticipated to be completed by early August.

JAG

A Month of Shame

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Ipoh Echo editorialMay is up and gone. To some it is just another month in the calendar but to many peace-loving Malaysians, May is a month of shame. It was also in May, 43 years ago that the infamous racial riots of May 13 took place. May too has several other significant events among them VE (Victory in Europe) Day on May 8, 1945. It was on May 8, 1968 that I took my solemn oath, on the drill square of the Royal Military College, Sg Besi, to serve King and Country and did so for 30 long years. While others consider May as a fleeting passage of time that merits little or no acknowledgement, to a band of brothers and sisters from Ipoh, it was a moment of truth and sad reflection.

What had befallen now renowned BERSIH chairperson Ambiga Sreenevesan can happen to anyone, given the eminence that surrounds this gutsy lady lawyer. From merely clamouring for a free and fair election, as provided for in the Constitution, Ambiga has evolved into someone the ruling government coalition loves to loathe. It could be this seemingly “inglorious” significance that prompted “paid goons” of the Establishment to make her a marked person. How circumstances could descend to such depths is beyond me. Violence through show of disrespect using lewd language and gestures is becoming a norm. Could this be a new culture that will inhabit our social landscape or is it just a passing fad?

In Merlimau, Malacca on Saturday, May 12 a hi-tea event which Ambiga was supposed to appear was derailed by thugs who threw stones and eggs. The incident damaged several cars and the event was called off. Preceding the Merlimau incident was a series of bizarre protests outside of Ambiga’s house in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur which included a “butt exercise” by a group of unknowns who claimed to be army veterans. On Thursday, May 10, a band of traders set up stalls and served free beef burgers in front of Ambiga’s house. It was a deliberate act since Ambiga is a Hindu and a vegetarian.

The developments in the capital city have not gone unnoticed elsewhere. In Ipoh, a group of concerned citizens, representing 51 non-governmental organisations, denounced the despicable acts as disgusting and an affront to Ambiga’s dignity as a Malaysian. At a press conference on Thursday, May 24, lawyer Augustine Anthony, the chairperson of BERSIH 3.0 Perak made the group’s stand known.

Alluding to Article 5 of the Constitution, which states that “No person shall be deprived of his/her personal liberties save in accordance with the law”, he said that the “perpetrators have stooped so low as to have no qualms in belittling Ambiga’s religious sensitivities.” Echoing Augustine’s sentiments, Dr Sharifah Jaafar, President of Perak Women for Women Society, decried the attacks as being “politically motivated”. “No citizens of the country should be subjected to such incessant tormenting just for speaking up for the rights of the people,” she insisted. Abdul Rahman, President of Perak Consumers’ Association (CAP), condemned the actions of the petty traders and promised that “members of CAP would stop buying burgers forthwith.”

No sooner had the dust settled, when the authorities went after protesters who breached the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011. Opposition leaders, Anwar Ibrahim, Mohamad Azmin and Badrul Hisham are now being charged for contravening the Act. Their case will be mentioned in court on July 2.

Malaysians cannot grasp the significance of the rule of law. We have been cowed into submission by too many repressive laws. Over in the United States, Americans are subject not only to their state constitution but also their federal constitution.

By “due process” the U.S. Department of State refers to the constitutional protection afforded the accused person under the Fifth Amendment of the federal constitution. It is basically a human rights issue which is universal. Sadly, this is alien here. State-sponsored bullying and intimidation will, therefore, continue unabated.