Tag Archives: ipoh echo issue 168

Perak’s First Roller Coaster

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Perakeans are in for a treat as there is a new roller coaster in town called the Lupe’s Adventure. Built at a cost of RM4 million, the roller coaster is the latest addition at the Lost World of Tambun’s amusement park and the first of its kind in Perak. Calvin Ho, General Manager of Lost World, wants this to be the first of many more to come for the amusement park. He hopes visitors will enjoy the thrill of the ride.

LOst world

Lupe’s Adventure, at 25 feet above ground, travels up to 20 mph with two 360° loops featured. It is designed to give riders an exhilarating experience with the hills as the backdrop.

Newer facilities will be featured yearly thus giving park visitors a different experience each time they return. For more information on Lupe’s Adventure visit: www.sunwaylostworldoftambun.com or its Facebook: www.facebook.com/lostworldoftambun.

RM

Is Our City ‘Pedestrian Friendly’?

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Jerry FrancisMy Say

By Jerry  Francis

Nearly 600 pedestrians were killed in road accidents annually for the last three years in the country, most of them children and senior citizens. According to the federal police, this figure accounts for 10 per cent of the traffic accident fatalities.

Over 70 per cent of these pedestrian casualties happened because people did not use the facilities provided or crossed roads at wrong places. Pedestrians are therefore advised by the police to always use pedestrian bridges, pathways and crossings.

But, what have the police done towards ensuring there are sufficient pedestrian pathways and crossings in the towns and cities in the country. The police can make a difference as they sit on most of the traffic advisory committees in the local authorities.

Let us examine our city, Ipoh, which has a high population of senior citizens. Is it ‘pedestrian friendly’? Personally, I do not think so.

Of course, there are pedestrian bridges and crossings in the city centre. The pedestrian bridges are too steep for senior citizens and people with disabilities to climb up and down, while the pavements at the crossings and along the streets are without ramps to facilitate elderly and wheelchair-bound persons to get onto the pavements. While in many places, there are no pathways and pavements.

And, despite the existence of by-laws in the city forbidding obstructions along pavements and five-foot ways, they are rampant. Often pedestrians need to get down from the pavements and five-foot ways onto the roads in busy streets because they are obstructed by some structure or goods, thus risking  life and limb.

Pavements are also poorly maintained. There are gaping holes caused by loose and missing interlocking bricks that can cause pedestrians to trip over and injure themselves.

Making matters worse, there are even damaged manhole covers on the pavements. A few of these corroded metal covers are located along the busy Jalan Dato Onn Jaafar.

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It will be only a matter of time before a pedestrian steps on one of them and falls into the manhole (see picture). Please, city council, look into these hazards to pedestrians immediately.

Much as I dislike criticizing the authorities, I also dislike seeing negligence on the part of the authorities. Is the city council not liable should a pedestrian get hurt due to its negligence?

The Mayor and city councilors, should in one of their ‘turun padang’, take a walk around the city centre and see for themselves whether our city can be considered ‘pedestrian friendly’.

If I may suggest, since the Kinta River bisects the commercial sectors of the Old Town and New Town of the city, the city council could perhaps consider constructing covered pedestrian walkways at the bridges along Jalan Sultan Idris Shah and Jalan Sultan Iskandar Shah for protection from rain and sun. It will encourage more people to walk between the two sectors.

Tun Razak Library Must Use English

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I am impressed by the recently renovated Tun Razak Library. This is a well-planned project by MBI.

The children’s section has been completely redone. It is very colourful and has an artificial tree in the centre, under which children can sit and read. The chairs and tables are placed around the sides of the room creating ample space for movement. The bird in the tree chirps when hands are clapped from a particular spot. There are PCs with internet connection. New song books for preschool children have been ordered. There is a storytelling corner. Games like Scrabble and Monopoly and others are available. There is a TV for toddlers to watch. On Saturdays this section is well patronised by parents and children; however during weekdays it is virtually empty.

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During the three-month renovation of the ground floor, books on the other floors have been rearranged. Previously books were kept on different floors according to  language, namely, English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Now books in all languages are grouped under subjects, for example fiction books in all languages are on the same floor. The shelves are colour coded for each language and Red is for English books. This is a good concept; however readers are complaining that they have to go to different floors to get their books. On weekdays, the lending and reference sections are deserted.

The reading section is well patronised by senior citizens. A survey must be done among the regular visitors to find out what magazines they would like to read. A form could be made available for readers to propose books to be purchased.

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As one of the essential services provided by MBI to have an educated and literate population, the library must be opened at least six days a week and closed only on Mondays as was done previously. The library must be opened on Sundays to enable parents to bring their children and would also be convenient for working people. There is no point in providing facilities which are difficult to use.

The signages are only in Malay; they must be in English as well.  If the government wants to enhance proficiency of the English language they need to use it. The importance of English needs no elaboration.

PAGE (Parents Action Group for Education) which promotes the teaching of English can work together with the library and conduct activities to promote the use of English. We have to start somewhere to prop up English language skills.

Let us work together and create awareness in reading among Ipohites.

A. Jeyaraj

A Mockery to the Efficiency of Ipoh City Council

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Are these pictures a sign of inefficiency of the Ipoh City Council, or a mockery of its slogan “Ipoh Clean, Green and Developing”? Look at the piles of uncollected wastes, mainly leftover foods from the night food-stalls, beside Dataran MBI – on the front yard of the city council’s complex.

For several hours on May 31, the refuse contained in black plastic bags were blocking parking bays and some with their foul smelling contents scattered on the road.

Motorists, driving around to look for parking space in the busy Greentown Commercial Centre, were seen shaking their heads in disgust at the sight of the uncollected wastes.

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Yes, there may be a valid reason for the failure of collecting the wastes on that particular day, but did it need to take several hours for the city council to come up with a contingency action to remove them, especially when it was just a stone’s throw away?

What will ratepayers and visitors think when about a week ago, in conjunction with the City Day’s celebration, City Council gave recognition to about 10 per cent of its workforce for their hard work.

During the presentation of the awards, State Local Government Committee chairman Datuk Saarani Mohamad congratulated all recipients for a job well done.

A Mockery to the Efficiency of Ipoh City Council

“The purpose of handing out the awards is to give due recognition to excellent workers in the council. I hope that the recipients will maintain or improve their work standards and set an example for their colleagues,” he said.

Of course, many of those recipients deserve the awards. They are the “unsung heroes”. It is a pity that such failure to collect the wastes quickly would reflect on them and the city council as a whole.

Jerry Francis

Agency to Help Debtors

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Agency to Help Debtors

Despite being in existence since 2006, many people are still unaware of Agensi Kaunseling dan Pengurusan Kredit (Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency) or simply, AKPK. This Bank Negara agency started out as an avenue to help people who are heavily in debt to get back  on their feet by assisting in restructuring their borrowings.

The agency hopes to empower consumers with financial knowledge and to make prudent financial management a way of life for everyone.

During a briefing session in Ipoh recently, AKPK Chief Executive Officer, Koid Swee Lian shared with representatives from Ipoh-based financial institutions and members of the press, AKPK’s objectives and how their counsellors can help people who are in debt take charge of their finances once again.

Currently, there are three trained counsellors in Ipoh who can cater to the different communities. Providing one-to-one counselling, some of the initial questions they need answered would be the income of the debtor, expenses, financial assets and debt(s).

Based on this background information, the counsellor will identify expenses and ways to save money. He will then tailor a debt management programme, negotiating with multiple lenders if necessary. Once this schedule is accepted by the lenders, the one monthly repayment amount should not be difficult to meet, as it is always within the repayment capacity of the debtor.

Easy as this may sound, there are certain criteria that a person has to meet prior to enrolment into the debt management programme. Open only to individuals, they must have a positive net disposable income, have a cumulative debt not exceeding RM2 million and only from credit providers approved by Bank Negara Malaysia, not under advanced litigation or bankrupt.

The main challenge would be for the individual to be proactive in turning around his or her lifestyle and scale it down as much as possible.

To date, more than 200,000 people have come forward to AKPK for financial counselling and out of this almost 90,000 have enrolled in its debt management programme. So far, 3412 people have exited the programme, successfully clearing their debt with total outstanding of RM130.86 million.

There are many factors that contribute to mounting debts. They include poor financial planning, high medical expenses, loss of job and slowdown or failure in business. Many also get caught in credit card debt, personal loans, hire purchases and housing loans without fully understanding the impact of the high interest rate charged.

Those who would like to empower themselves with personal financial knowledge can do so by logging on to AKPK’s online learning portal: http://power.akpk.org.my/.

On the other hand, anyone who is faced with a personal financial crisis and finds himself at his wits’ end should seek advice from AKPK. Services offered by the agency are free of charge.

Agensi Kaunseling Dan Pengurusan Kredit
(Credit Counselling And Debt Management Agency)
Address: Unit B-2-1, Greentown Square,
Jalan Dato’ Seri Ahmad Said, 30450 Ipoh, Perak.
Office hours: 8.30am – 5.30pm (Monday to Friday)
Toll free: 1-800-88-2575     Website: http://www.akpk.org.my

Emily

Well Done TNB

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

editorial deskIt is not too comforting to know that the humblest thing is often being relegated to some empty recesses of our mind. We seldom give basic necessities such as water and electricity much attention unless they affect your routine and lives.

Perception is a strong tool that nullifies your thoughts however discerning one may be. I don’t wish to sound philosophical but what I am trying to proffer is how we have taken things for granted simply because of the assumption that they don’t necessarily work in our favour.

Take the service provided by our monopolistic power supplier, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) whose predecessor was the less gargantuan National Electricity Board of yesteryear. Nobody would give a hoot if told that there is more to TNB other than its bold lettering emblazoned on electric poles and on the doors of sub-stations in your neighbourhood.

Like many others I have come to regard TNB as an insatiable government-linked company whose only interest is to squeeze as much from the long-suffering public. Reports of hidden charges under some very innocuous headings in the monthly bill are rife. There have been instances when the public have stopped short of taking to the streets to protest against these inconsistencies.

The lopsided agreement in favour of the 11 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in the country is a case in point. It is a well-known fact that these entities are being heavily subsidised by the government to a tune of about RM2 billion annually.

Support of these IPPs, to put it bluntly, is at the expense of PETRONAS, Tenaga Nasional Berhad and Malaysian consumers. One of the entities has a Return on Investment (ROI) of almost 48 per cent when a ROI of 12 per cent is considered justifiable. The inequity is staggering, to say the least. But that is not what I am about to highlight in this editorial of mine.

It was one of those hazy weekends when you have little to do but to remain glued to the television watching some rough and tumble games coming to life on the giant LED screen. I was no exception. The object of my interest that fateful day was a final between two top-notch rugby clubs Down Under.

It was almost 7pm. The sky was heavily overcast punctuated by lightning and thunder. One lightning flash came crashing from the sky and exploded in front of my house. The TV screen and the lights went off. The next-door neighbour’s house, however, was not affected and so were the rest in the vicinity.

My damage control drills came into effect. I never thought of calling TNB for assistance. The first person that came to mind was the contractor who fixed the electric fittings in my house. I called him and he was in front of my gate almost an hour later.

The lightning bolt had spiked two of the three external fuses on my 3-phase electrical board. Only one was functioning. He had them replaced and supply was restored soon after. Before he left he told me that TNB is equipped for such an emergency. The number to call is TNB Careline 15454.

It did not bother me much until I received my bill. The amount was well below my anticipated figure. I decided to call the number to check. A recorded voice on the other end answered. After the onerous, “Press 1 for Bahasa Malaysia, Press 2 for English” followed by another number for default reporting, I was directed to an operator who answered in crisp and clear English. I told her of my problem. She said someone would return my call soon. Sure enough someone did call. It was the local TNB response team.

True to form, the van with the team stopped by my house an hour after I made the call to TNB Careline. The damaged electric meter with the wrong reading was duly replaced.

I was stumped. Honestly, I did not expect such a miracle to happen, not in this trying moment. I thought the national power supplier would take a lifetime to react. How wrong could I have been?

So the next time something goes wrong with your power supply, don’t hesitate to call 15454. You can even text a message or send an email. That is customer service for you. I feel Ipoh City Council should learn a thing or two from TNB.

 

Banana Leaf ‘Institution’

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musings on food - food reviewsMusings on Food

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

Samy's 4Mention banana leaf curry in Ipoh and most aficionados who appreciate the hot fiery tastes of this South Indian meal will unanimously opt for Samy’s. However, the journey from Ipoh town can be a tad far for some, but for serious foodies, the trek there is worth every kilometre.

Samy’s Restaurant does have a following. Go there on a weekday lunchtime and the place is packed to the gills with office workers and people waiting in line for take away. On weekends and public holidays, golfers and families are a common sight.

The restaurant has been around for 50 years, and is now run by the son who has grown the business to the point where there is now a new extension next door and where before one had to wait for a seat, there is now ample seating at long tables where sharing tables is a convivial thing to do.

This is a place for banana leaves so you won’t see any plates around. Most people here will eat with their hands but for the squeamish types like me they do supply forks and spoons. First they place the banana leaf in front of you and promptly bring the rice which they’ll serve you by the ladle, and replenish when requested. Then comes the poppadom which are large crispy crackers made from chickpea flour. Again, they’re generous with these so you can ask for more as you nibble while waiting for the other curries to come. Next come the vegetables, a rotating selection every day, and on the day I went it was a mixed vegetable dhal with carrots and long beans, dry potato curry and always a cucumber, onion salad. This was accompanied by a Rasam, a sourish cup of well spiced ‘soup’ which is meant to stimulate appetite and aid digestion.

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Samy’s has one of the largest selection of wet and dry curries I have ever tasted (and I have been tasting them for over a period of 10 years). And some of the most exotic items too, not to be found in other places in town. This is the only banana leaf restaurant to offer Duck RM12 and Turkey Curry RM15 per portion. It is also the only place where I’ve been to where they serve Kambing Kepala or fresh Lamb’s Head Curry RM14. Being an offal lover, I was delighted to find Kambing Perut or Lamb Innards Curry RM14 as well as Kambing Hati or Lamb’s Liver RM14.

They also distinguish between regular Chicken Curry RM6 and Kampong (free range) Chicken Curry RM8, the latter cooked in the Varuval style – dry, more robust and more fiery. The same applies to their mutton. Regular Mutton (frozen) Curry goes for RM8 per portion while the Kampong Mutton (fresh) is RM15 per portion. I personally prefer the kampong mutton which is stronger in taste and fresh from the market, not frozen like the regular mutton which is from Australia or New Zealand.

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Now that I have mentioned all the meat dishes, let me move on to the fish which is equally tempting. The regular Fish Curry for one piece of mackerel is RM6 which comes with some brinjal and ladies fingers. They also have a choice of  fried fish. Their Prawn Curry goes for RM12 but it is their Crab Curry that is the pièce de résistance.

The crab curry sells out very quickly and its no wonder. Big fresh flower crabs at RM15 each come with a thick curry gravy which is absolutely delectable. This is one curry that I always look forward to and even if the crabs sell out, I’ll plead for some of that scrumptious gravy to go with my rice.

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Samy’s opens early for breakfast where Thosai, Roti Canai, Vadai, Curry Puffs, Appam and other Indian breads are available. Eating Thosai here is a delightful experience where they give you a variety of chutneys and dips. My favourites were the Coconut Chutney and the Ikan Bilis Sambal. They also provide you with a dhal and tomato chutney unlike some other places I’ve been to where you’re lucky if they still have the Coconut Chutney left and you’re left with an onion sambal and watery dhal. Needless to say, all this is washed down with Teh Tarik, thick black tea made with evaporated and condensed milk.

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Samy’s Restaurant
70 Main Road, Chemor
Tel: 05-201 4066
Business Hours: 7am-9.30pm, closed Mondays every fortnight.
GPS:  4º 43.171’N, 101º 7.275’E

Human Resource Management Training

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MIHRM was established in 1975 as Malaysia’s first professional body supporting the practice of Human Resource Management. Being the leading and independent body for Human Resource Management in Malaysia, MIHRM has successfully trained more than 20,000 competent HR professionals and practitioners in both the private and public sectors.

MIHRM provides a wide array of professional training courses, public programmes, consultation and support for organisations and individuals. This has placed MIHRM at the forefront of the industry as the sole authority on human resource management in the country. This is consistent with its reputation as the only professional body authorised to certify HR Practitioners in Malaysia.

MIHRM is also affiliated to the World Federation of People Management Association (USA) and Asia Pacific Federation of Human Resource Management (APFHRM) and other reputable regional human resource management associations.

MIHRM’s products and services are gaining prominence and stature. To meet this robust demand, MIHRM has embarked on a strategic campaign by building business partnerships with reputable training organisations throughout Peninsular Malaysia, as well as in Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei. Aimed at the state of Perak, MIHRM has entered into a business partnership with Allways People Sdn Bhd which is helmed by Mr S. Asohan. Allways People Sdn Bhd in turn is working in collaboration with Ipoh Echo, Ipoh’s progressive community newspaper.

MIHRM products and services vary from professional certificate programmes, in-house and public trainings, consultancy services, Malaysia HR Awards, seminars and conferences. MIHRM offers Certified HR Professional (CAHRP) for HR professionals who have attained competence in handling various industrial experiences with a track record in delivering cost effective HR consultancy services. In-house and public training programmes cover a wide aspect in full spectrum of Human Resource Management Functions, Leadership, Organisational Behaviour, Training and Development and not forgetting, general management. The training programmes are conducted by certified and highly reputable HR professionals who have extensive experience and knowledge in their respective domains.

MIHRM organises the annual prestigious Malaysia HR Awards, which is strongly supported and endorsed by the human resource community, with the Honourable Minister of Human Resources as patron. Recently, we organised the National Coaching Conference in collaboration with ICF Malaysia. We will also be hosting the National HR Conference “Managing Talent Across Borders” with Universiti Tun Abdul Razak, Kuala Lumpur on June 17 and 18.

For more details or to register for this conference, email: president@mihrm.com, or call 03-7955 6536.

Come join MIHRM and embark on a fruitful and rewarding career in the Human Resource profession!

New Strategy to Promote Perak

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Tourism Malaysia (Perak) will employ a new strategy to promote Perak in a big way. It plans to repackage and rebrand the touristic products currently available so they will be more visible to visitors, foreign and local.

Newly-appointed Tourism Malaysia (Perak) Director,  Ahmad Kamarudin Yusoff (pic far right) said this at a media briefing recently. “The state’s rich cultural heritage should be highlighted in tandem with its numerous tourist attractions,” he said. “And with Visit Malaysia Year 2014 just around the corner, the time is most appropriate.”

New Strategy to Promote PerakInternet will be the medium to enhance the promotional efforts of Tourism Malaysia (Perak). “To achieve this Internet usage, penetration rate should be improved in order to disseminate information to locals. Information is already available on websites and are sufficient for foreigners but they need to be updated frequently,” he added. “In this context, the collaboration of travel agencies is necessary.”

The agency organised a fishing trip for media representatives and tour operators to Pulau Sembilan recently. Before that was a bicycle ride along a heritage trail in Ipoh. Both received wide media coverage. These activities will be incorporated into a tour package soon for sale to domestic and foreign tourists alike. Tourism Malaysia, according to Kamaruddin, had just finished shooting stills all over Perak. The pictures will be used for promotional purposes.

Kamarudin hoped his overseas experiences will be of use to improve the tourism industry and by extension, the local economy. Present at the briefing was the CEO of Tourism Perak, Hj Musa Dun, the President of Perak Tourism Association, Hj Odzman Abd Kadir and major players in the state tourism industry.

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Symphony Suites’ Soft Opening

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Symphony Suites, which started operations on May 10, held a soft opening ceremony recently at its function hall. The ceremony was attended by members of the press along with tourism players and members of the Board of Directors of the hotel.

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General Manager, Steven Ang, started the event by highlighting the specialties and facilities of the hotel. One of the unique features of Symphony Suites is that it is the only hotel in Ipoh that offers suites, with private living room separated from the bedroom to allow more privacy for its guests in the Deluxe Suites, which also have two TVs and two bathrooms.

Out of the total of 96 rooms, 18 of them are Standard Suites, 68 are Deluxe Suites, 8 are Executive Suites and two are Penthouses.

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Hotel guests, according to Ang, will enjoy beautiful views of limestone caves and temples, which are within easy reach of the hotel. It also offers transport for its guests to travel to and from the airport.

Lena