Some 500 well-wishers led by Tan Sri Dr M. Mahadevan and Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian were present to celebrate Dato’ Dr Maduri Majumder’s 80th birthday. The party was held at the Kinta Riverfront Hotel, Ipoh on Sunday, March 10.
Dato’ Dr Majumder took the opportunity to launch the Majumder Scholarship Fund for needy students. Six students from two schools, SMK Sri Putera Sungai Pari and SMK Buntong were the first recipients of the scholarship.
Majumder, Ipoh’s own Mother Theresa, was obviously touched by the many accolades showered on her. She pledged to continue with her charity works in spite of her advanced age.
Guests enjoyed a sumptuous dinner followed by music and dances by some well-known local groups, including a sterling performance by Dato’ Ramli Ibrahim.
A heavy downpour did not dampen the spirits of members of Shirdi Sai Baba Society (Ipoh Branch), as they gathered for their anniversary do at Little India recently. Dressed in white, devotees sat under canopies in the pouring rain while waiting for the arrival of Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, the Menteri Besar of Perak. On hand to entertain the crowd was violin maestro, Dr Mani Barathi, a renowned musician, specially flown in from India for the occasion.
The Shirdi Sai Baba Society is a charitable, non-profit and non-political organisation devoted to spreading Sai Baba’s teachings and philosophies to the world. Its Ipoh chapter was set up in 2008.
Besides its core spiritual activities, the society currently provides free breakfast, lunch and dinner to the poor and destitute at its premises in a shop lot along Jalan Sultan Iskandar, Ipoh.
Society’s Chairman, K.P. Kandahan has appealed to the Menteri Besar for a piece of land to accommodate its growing membership, which now stands at 1800. Zambry responded by pledging a donation of RM50,000 to their building fund. He has in mind a piece of land in Gunung Lang for the project.
Guests were then treated to classical Indian dances and musical renditions by the maestro before adjourning to a nearby restaurant for tea with their guest of honour.
It came as no surprise when Taman Kledang Permai, Taman Arked and part of the Menglembu Light Industrial area were inundated by muddy water. Residents living in these affected areas got a rude shock when they woke up early on the morning of Friday, March 1 to see water gushing into their houses. It happened so fast that most could only escape with their lives and the clothes on their backs. Their belongings, and the precious little they owned, had to be abandoned. The flooding and the ensuing mudslide were caused by heavy rain that fell for two continuous days.
The root cause can be easily traced to the massive development currently taking place at the foothills and on slopes of the Kledang Range. Since Taman Kledang Permai, Taman Arked and the Menglembu Light Industrial area are adjacent to the project site, disaster was, literally, waiting to happen, and it happened.
The site covers an area of about 24 ha. It is being developed as a multi-million ringgit project known locally as the SEGi Enclave. According to iProperty.com, a leading property website in the country, SEGi Enclave is described as, “Ipoh’s first integrated university college township. The enclave consists of shop-offices, apartments, gated and guarded high-end condos and luxury semi-dees and bungalows”.
Prices of houses and condos, claims the website, range between RM250,000 to RM1.5 million. The SEGi University College campus will be located here. Once completed it will rival the UTAR Campus in Kampar in size. The property is being developed by Ipoh-based Energiser Properties Sdn Bhd.
Mudslides and landslides are not something new in Malaysia. Lives lost caused by landslides taking down apartment blocks and houses have happened before and will continue to happen. Some say it is an act of God. I beg to differ. God has nothing to do with these man-made disasters. They all have one common trait – greed. It is greed of the human kind, plain and simple.
The Highland Towers tragedy of 1993 is still fresh in our minds. It took place on December 11, 1993 at Taman Hillview, Ulu Klang, Selangor. The collapse of Block One of the apartments took the lives of 48 innocent people. Residents from two other blocks had to be evacuated for safety reasons. A lengthy legal battle ensued with no conclusive results in sight.
Nine years after the incident in November 2002, a bungalow belonging to former Armed Forces Chief, General (Rtd) Tan Sri Ismail Omar collapsed due to a landslide. His house was located metres away from the ill-fated towers. Ismail lost his wife.
The fate of Highland Towers is sealed for good. Today the three towers are in complete disarray, stripped of contents and dignity in its entirety, the towers are left to rot in the unforgiving tropical sun.
The primary cause of the Highland Towers collapse was structural failure. The development of Bukit Antarabangsa, a housing project on the hilltop behind the Towers in 1991 was the catalyst. The hill was cleared of trees and undergrowth thus exposing the soil to erosion that eventuated in the landslide.
Fortunately, the mudslide at the foothills of the Kledang Range on Friday, March 1 did not result in any death. However, over a thousand residents had the fright of their lives. Death must have stared them in the eyes, but due to quick thinking a major tragedy was averted. This goes to show Ipohites’ resilience, per se, but to what extent? I believe something of the equivalent of the Highland Towers tragedy would have a numbing impact on our conscience.
Mayor Roshidi Hashim was miffed by the attitude of those responsible for developing the project. Ipoh City Council’s warnings had gone unheeded. “It’s difficult to make people understand the severity of their actions,” he remarked.
The Council had come under severe criticism for allowing the project to continue although danger signs were already visible and complaints made. A warning, apparently, was issued to the developer in November 2012 for failing to comply with the Council’s regulations. Why was the warning ignored is anybody’s guess.
“The Council’s role as a facilitator has not been taken seriously,” said a dejected Roshidi.
The developer has undertaken the responsibility of clearing the mess, a plus point by all means. A report on the incident will be presented to the state government by Ipoh City Council. It should be ready by March 18, hopefully.
Stories and reports about the cleanliness and rubbish about Ipoh are two consistent topics that has never failed to make it into the newspapers every week for the past two years. From Bercham to Pasir Puteh and Buntong the entire Ipoh community has contributed their share of complaints to the media and Ipoh City Council. The often used slogan, SLR or sampah (rubbish) longkang (drain) and rumput (grass) seems to be on the lips of all concerned Ipoh residents. Ipoh Echo too has contributed its share to helping identify a solution. Our June 16, 2012 issue 145 titled, “Cleaning Ipoh-A Joint Responsibility” touched on ‘illegal dump sites’, public education and enforcement.
MB takes up the cudgel on cleanliness throughout Perak State, adding two more tasks: Street Lighting and Potholes
A follow-up issue, #151 on September 16 under the title of “Mayor Targets Ipoh To Be 85% Clean in 1 Year”, highlighted the standard operating procedures for Rubbish Collection, Grass Cutting and Drain Cleaning and the scope of work of the contractors. The same issue also carried a list of Ipoh Councillors and their contact numbers. The purpose of the overall report was to create awareness for residents to call their respective councillors if the specified procedures were not being followed.
Apparently the goals are not being attained as this topic of cleanliness took centre stage in early February, specifically after the weekly State Exco meeting on February 6, when Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir joined in the chorus of complaints and issued a stern warning to all Council Presidents and Councillors throughout the state to “improve their efficiency and productivity” in keeping the state clean.
Stating that he had received numerous complaints constantly about “councils and councillors” from all the districts in the state, for failing to carry out their responsibilities, Zambry reminded the relevant authorities “to set a good example and provide a good service to the residents”. He further added that he would be making spot checks and would not be “lenient anymore”. Not surprisingly Zambry listed the regular complaints of Uncollected Rubbish, Clogged Drains and Uncut Grass or SLR and included two other complaints: Faulty Street Lighting and Road Potholes. “These are the basic services and the five main tasks that the local authorities need to focus on and provide effective services to their communities”.
First Spot Check
True to his word, Zambry did make a spot check exactly a week later on February 13, immediately after the Chinese New Year break and after the State Exco meeting, to Ipoh City Council where he again repeated his expectations of the five main tasks to service the community.
When asked about Mayor Dato’ Roshidi’s target of 85% Clean Ipoh by August this year, Zambry commended Roshidi for setting the goal but clarified that being an ongoing SOP (standard operating procedure) the goal should be 100% immediately and the standard should subsequently be consistently maintained.
Much as Zambry’s statement is to be applauded, it will be a long and arduous task to re-educate local residents’ mindsets after such a long period of wanton lack of discipline. At a recent Chinese New Year gathering organised by MBI with Bercham’s Councillor Ir Lai Kong Phooi, Dato’ Roshidi stressed the issue of cleanliness and provided forms for residents to fill up requesting MBI to assist in cleaning their neighbourhood be it their drain or illegal rubbish. One resident Mrs Ho even went to the extent of personally approaching Dato’ Roshidi to pour out her frustration about her filthy neighbourhood.
Appointment of Garden Waste Contractor
In a recent interview Roshidi updated Ipoh Echo that Ipoh City Council had recently met with all its 24 supervisors and regulators who had given their support and commitment towards achieving the Council’s 85% Clean Ipoh goal. Roshidi also highlighted that during the Council’s last meeting on cleanliness it had approved the privatization of the collection of garden waste. The respective department in charge is currently working out the details of the operation and this collection service is anticipated to begin by April 1 or earlier.
Once finalized, the Council will proceed to initiate a gotong royong simultaneously with zone councillors and heads of departments in 17 zones in Ipoh. Roshidi anticipates that this total operation, when it takes place, will be a positive move towards achieving the 85% Clean Ipoh goal for the long term.
With regards to enforcement, Roshidi stated it was ongoing and since the beginning of 2013 over 300 summonses for cleanliness has been issued to offenders.
Roshidi has also proposed to showcase the cleanliness programme and has tentatively identified the location fronting Jalan Lau Pak Khuan and bordered by Jalan Canning Estate, Jalan Devadason and Hospital Fatimah.
This location although small has a mix of activities residential and commercial. These include two fields, a hotel, Courts, a post office, a hospital, several banks and restaurants.
Despite its small area the basic SLR services are lacking. A resident, Augustine Basnayake welcomed the initiative. He reported that the 3 times per week rubbish collection was good. However, the drains were not cleaned nor grass cut per schedule and the garden waste dumps are an eyesore. A quick recce around the neighbourhood by Ipoh Echo confirmed the report by Basnayake and although relatively clean was very shabby in appearance. The commercial establishments too were receptive to the idea.
Several customers at the Ipoh Garden Post Office said the uncleared rubbish in the drain surrounding the Post Office would float into the Post Office compound after a heavy rain and this was unpleasant as the Post Office regularly has foreigners using the postal service. A bank officer, not wishing to be named, said the initiative could help instil a cleanliness attitude in its customers to throw their ATM statements in the bins provided, accurately.
Creating a Cleanliness Culture
Ms Noraslinda, the Branch Manager for Courts welcomed the move saying “it will create awareness for a cleanliness culture among our staff, which will be good for the community and benefit our customers.”
Ms Ceylyn Tay, the Councillor for Canning fully agreed with the idea and was willing to work with Dato’ Roshidi to achieve the goal. Also acknowledging that the small area was not the issue but providing good services is and she hoped the project will influence residents to keep their neighbourhood clean at all times.
With the appointment of the garden waste contractor, theoretically, our neighbourhoods should be neat and tidy always. Hence the next few months could see the turning point towards achieving the former title of “the cleanest city in the country”.
The International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievement of women in the past, present, and future. In conjunction with this honourable day, I wish to share about a truly towering lady in Perak.
Just mention Datuk Dr Madhuri Majumder, a name synonymous with Perak and people instantly recognize her. She is our country’s first woman dermatologist who has shown great enthusiasm to be of service to humanity.
When she took over the reigns of the Perak Society for Promotion of Mental Health (PSPMH) in 1986 as the President of the society, she immediately introduced various activities for rehabilitation with occupational therapies like singing, dancing, orchid farming, ceramic and art projects, music and laughter therapy, handicraft production, glove packing and counseling sessions for all the patients who are housed at the centre.
The PSPMH’s patron is DYMM Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Shah and it is affiliated with the World Federation of Mental Health is also actively promoting mental health through education, information, conventions and forums for the benefit of the general public.
Datuk Dr Majumder has a strong bond with the patients, whom she affectionately addresses as the residents, being careful to never stigmatize mentally ill patients with the notion that they are crazy.
She believes that the biggest dichotomy that exists between mental illness and physical illness and disabilities is that, people with mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, epilepsy, substance abuse disorder and child and adolescent mental conditions are predisposed to a very high degree of economic and social marginalization. She also noted that they are habitually excluded from participation in society, subject to stigma and discrimination and are restricted from social activities.
Her dream is to rehabilitate these psycho-socially ill patients and send them back to society as good as the next-able bodied person. To give an example, she has three of the society’s residents from the Ulu Kinta Centre being employed to take care of her house and assist in her clinic.
Datuk Dr Madhuri read Medicine at Calcutta University in 1959. A government scholarship took her to the United Kingdom to specialize in Dermatology and she came back to serve the government as the first woman dermatologist in the country. She scored another first when she was installed as the first woman Chairman of Perak branch of the Malaysian Medical Association in 1981. She also created history when she was installed as the President of Rotary Club of Greentown in 1995 – the First Lady President of a Rotary Club of Perak.
Last year during the state level women’s day celebration, she was bestowed the Women of True Beauty Award during the Anugerah Wanita Mutiara Perak, receiving the award from the Prime Minister’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
This illustrious lady recently celebrated her 80th birthday by launching the “Majumder Scholarship Fund” to assist needy children for their educational needs. This significant event is another milestone for this distinguish “Mother Teresa of Ipoh” as she is popularly known.
Many people are afraid of using lifts because they fear heights or being confined in an enclosed space. A few, who have been trapped in a lift, vow never to use the elevator again. They say that when they were trapped, the alarm did not work, or that they were in darkness, suspended many floors above ground. Our fears have been reinforced by Hollywood movies depicting lifts plummeting to the ground.
The ordeal of not knowing when one will be rescued will cause some to panic and hyperventilate. The recent incident when a family was trapped in the lift at the Perak Golf Club is testimony to shoddy maintenance and a delay in rescue.
One wonders if incidents involving lifts are recorded by the health and safety department of the state? Do the public have access to these figures? Will statistics show that lift accidents are a relatively rare occurrence or a growing cause for concern?
A quick trawl through the internet will show that accidents related to lifts are not common but surely one faulty elevator which results in injury and death is serious enough to warrant our attention and that of the relevant bodies.
On February 15, it was reported by Berita Harian and Harian Metro that a lift at Pangsapuri Blok A25, one of the 10-storey apartment blocks located on the naval base in Lumut, had plunged five floors to the ground. The victim’s neighbour, who wanted to remain anonymous, claimed that screams had been heard just before the loud crash, made on impact.
A team from the Fire and Rescue Department searched the wreckage and found the unconscious victim, suffering from severe head injuries. Despite an emergency operation and the best efforts of the medical team at the Seri Manjung hospital, she could not be saved. A steel cable had broken and it struck her head and neck. She succumbed to her injuries the following day.
The cause of the accident was alleged to be a snapped cable. The victim’s husband, a naval officer, blamed the tragedy on the lack of maintenance and said that the tragedy could have been averted if the lifts had been properly maintained. He said, “I am sad that my wife is now a victim of this carelessness”.
It was alleged that residents were reluctant to use the lifts as they would rattle and make weird noises when in use. One person said, “I believe this happened because the steel cables are old and worn because prior to this there was leakage from rainwater and that may have caused rust.”
The Manjung District Police Chief, Assistant Commissioner Jaafar Bab classified the case as “sudden death”. Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar of the Royal Malaysian Navy has ordered an investigation of all apartment lifts throughout naval bases in Malaysia. He also said that the navy was not taking any risks despite the lifts being ‘well-maintained and installed with quality parts’.
In a letter to various newspapers, the Institution of Engineers of Malaysia (IEM) have said that the tragedy at Lumut could have been prevented with a “good and committed maintenance programme”.
A spokesman for the IEM said that lifts have several safety features and he could not comprehend how all the safety features could fail simultaneously, in the Lumut incident. The IEM speculated “poor maintenance or even no maintenance” as the probable causes of the accident. It questioned the technical expertise of the technicians tasked with the maintenance of the lift and the quality of the parts used.
The IEM recommended that the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) ensures only authorised lift vendors be permitted to perform lift maintenance and that DOSH addresses the shortage of technicians skilled in lift installation and maintenance work.
Around the world, irresponsible companies try to save money by taking shortcuts, by using shoddy equipment, or by reducing maintenance. We see the results of incompetence and mismanagement in many areas of our life; impressive roads which are washed away after a few months, gleaming buildings which leak or slide downhill after heavy rain.
Are figures for accidents involving lifts in Perak collated on an annual basis? How many resulted in injuries? How many fatalities were there? Is our safety record for lifts good or bad? Of the incidents, how many were deemed serious and how many were not? Did the serious ones involve power outages or were they through a failure of the lift’s safety mechanisms?
Is the maintenance of lifts in Perak strictly regulated? How scrupulous are the maintenance, examination and testing regimes? Is there a different system for domestic or public/commercial lifts?
Malaysians tend to be complacent about maintenance, checks and regulations. It is a fact of Malaysian life that the authorities only react when things go wrong, and when injuries are sustained or lives have been lost.
It was a deserving treat for 40 trainees of the Ipoh Daybreak Association when they were entertained to a party by the Senior Citizens Club of Perak. What was more exciting about the outing was the presence of the musical band, The Young Hearts.
A brainchild of the Senior Citizen Club’s President, Chong Eng Hong, the band, formed over a year ago, is made up of members of the club and is led by the president himself. Since formation, The Young Hearts have performed at several charity functions within the city.
The event, held at the Daybreak Centre in Jalan Pulai, Lahat recently was aimed at entertaining the centre’s trainees who had lost a devoted trainer recently. Event organiser, Lau Wing Fatt, reckons that with more exposure, The Young Hearts will be a band of standing in the near future.
The Perak Turf Club held the MRA (Malayan Racing Association) Cup at its course recently. The race was over a distance of 1400 metres for horses aged 3 years old and above. The club had the honour of hosting the MRA Awards 2012 this year, which was held immediately after the cup race.
There were some anxious moments before the start of the race, as the skies opened up and rain started to fall. However, there was a sigh of relief as the deluge trickled into a drizzle just as the horses were about to scramble out of the starting gates.
The MRA Awards is a significant event for the local racing industry. The occasion is held as a form of recognition for horse-owners, trainers, jockeys and thoroughbreds for their achievements. It provides an opportunity for the racing fraternity to make new friends or renew friendship and to share ideas. It also signifies the unity and cooperation among the four turf clubs – the Selangor Turf Club, the Penang Turf Club, the Singapore Turf Club and the Perak Turf Club.
The presentation ceremony took place at the VIP Lounge. Members of sister clubs were invited to present awards to recipients in the various categories namely, Champion Owner, Champion Trainer, Champion Jockey, Champion Apprentice Jockey, Malaysian-bred Champion Horse and Champion Horse of the Year.
Tan Sri V. Jeyaratnam, Chairman of the Perak Turf Club, thanked everyone present for their support.
Ten years ago, two ladies, practising gynaecologist Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar and Yip Siew Keen, saw the need to start a service to help women in crisis in Perak. This need resulted in the birth of Perak Women For Women Society (PWW), an apolitical, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, whose objectives are to:
offer emotional and social support to women and their children, who suffer from mental, physical and/or sexual abuse,
provide temporary refuge services to such women and children,
undertake and advocate the eradication of factors that contribute to the inequality and subordination of women through law, policy and institutional reforms, and
create awareness and better understanding among individuals, the public and relevant agencies, on issues of violence against women and the underlying inequalities.
Believing that the best long-term solution to help marginalised women is through education, the society has, at the beginning of this year, started a weekly pre-school programme in Kg Pos Woh in Tapah. The programme provides not only pre-school classes for young Orang Asli children but also tuition and mentoring for primary school children. Learning materials are provided free-of-charge. Volunteers take this opportunity to feed the children with nutritious food. This ongoing project benefits over 70 children weekly.
The society also organises outreach programmes where volunteers visit schools in Perak to educate students, especially girls, about personal safety and respect. As a society, PWW has made great progress in recent years. It publishes its own bulletin called, SuaraNita since 2009 and operates its own service and information centre.
In 2010 it joined the Joint Action Group For Gender Equality, a coalition comprising women’s human rights groups, which diligently document, monitor and lobby for law and policy reforms on women’s rights. The following year it became a member of the South East Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN, a network of more than 60 organisations in 11 countries that advocate women’s rights.
Last year was the society’s turning point. It established a temporary shelter for women in crisis, made possible with financial support from a Kuala Lumpur philanthropist.
Over the ten years PWW has faced many challenges, the biggest being monetary in nature. The society requires at least RM100,000 a year to conduct programmes and activities. Without any government funding, PWW finds the going tough. However, with financial support from individuals and well-wishers it has managed to keep afloat.
To mark its 10th Anniversary, the society is organising a charity dinner themed, “A Many-Splendoured Nite”. Malaysian Jazz Queen, Dato’ Sheila Majid, will entertain guests with her jazzy hits.
Tickets for the dinner, to be held at Kinta Riverfront Hotel, Ipoh on Saturday, April 6, are priced at RM100, RM150 and RM200 each. It is an important fund-raising initiative to support PWW’s efforts.
The society’s immediate concern, however, is the lack of committed volunteers. Membership, with an annual fee of RM10, is open to all women 18 years and above. Men are also encouraged to volunteer their skills and services. The society hopes to see the formation of a men’s wing in the near future. Other plans in the pipeline include internship for university students and joint research on social health, humanity or psychology for Master’s or PhD students.
Women who require counselling can call the centre at 05-546 9715 or e-Counselling by email to [email protected] Personal counselling is also available at the PWW Service Centre at 52, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, 31400 Ipoh.
For more information, log on to PWW’s website at http://www.pww.org.my/ or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Perak-Women-For-Women-Society-PWW/215564111873471.
The Kinta Valley Symphonic Society (KVSS) has a new studio.
Located on the 2nd floor at 158 Jalan Sultan Idris Shah it has been the location where its two orchestras, the Kinta Valley Wind Orchestra (KVWO) and the Perak Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), have been holding their practices since January this year.
The KVSS was founded in 2010 with a grant from the SiWu Education Trust Fund which enabled it to purchase instruments to start KVWO, the first and only community wind orchestra, or symphonic band, in Perak.
Its Music Director is the talented Eugene Pook (pic, standing 2nd from right) who has grown the orchestras in size, versatility and quality and has given Ipohites such presentations as “New Worlds, New Beginnings” held last August.
The Society currently has 120 active members and due to its growth, the previously rented premises ran out of space.
Work on the new studio started last December and selected materials were used to enhance the acoustics. The studio renovation cost RM40K and was part sponsored by Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad.
The shift to the new studio is another milestone in the progress of the Society which hopefully will provide music education for the community and in turn recruit new musicians.
Those interested to become part of the orchestras or wish to make contributions may call 010-565 0412.