Tag Archives: ipoh echo issue 171

A Changing Social Scene

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From the Editor’s Desk

By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Many may not agree with me that Ipoh is experiencing a gradual change in its social landscape. Although the transformation is subtle the change is a welcome sign. This one time sleepy hollow, which has gone into a prolonged hibernation after the demise of the tin industry in the early 1980s, is beginning to come alive. Unfortunately, many are still in denial not wanting to see the positive side of things. The prophets of doom will, as a matter of course, have nothing good to say.

The city’s robust economy is being fuelled mainly by the private sector, a phenomenon which was found wanting a few years ago. Investments by private entities and individuals, mainly home-grown, is a good indication that Ipohites, who left for greener pastures during the tin market slump, have now returned home, not to roost but to do business. This is not only healthy but also good for everyone in Ipoh.

The rippling effect of the economic boom will benefit small-time businessmen like the ubiquitous hawkers and traders that Ipoh is famous for. Food courts and hawker centres are springing up like mushrooms after a downpour. And the existence of a vibrant suburban community in once remote hamlets such as Kampung Tawas, Bercham, Buntong and Kepayang bespeaks a new-found vigour.

Based on the 2010 census, Ipoh, with a land size of 643 sq km, supports a population in excess of 760,000. Not bad for a state capital that boasts the most number of colonial buildings within a small confine. The city that tin built has gone a complete circle. Or has it?

Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim believes it has and attributes the success to the hard-working and diligent city folks which consist of a healthy mix of races and creeds. Thus the notion that the success of a nation rests squarely on the shoulders of its citizens holds true. Therefore, racial polarity and religious bigotry, as being espoused by some in the ruling coalition is an anathema, a no-go. They will be committing political seppuku if the unthinkable happens.

Topping the list of insensitivities is the action of the Sungai Buloh school principal who confined his non-Muslim students to the school’s toilet for their meals during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Intolerance is a quality so endemic in Biro Tata Negara-trained officers these days. Sadly, they form the bulk of the bloated civil service. Such things never happened during my formative years in my hometown of Parit Buntar in the 1950s and 1960s.

Maybe life was not as unpredictable as it is today. We did not have much to look forward to in terms of entertainment, except for the occasional John Wayne movies shown at the town’s only cinema. I grew up when Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot and later, Ursula Andress, were the pin-up girls. We hummed to Elvis Presley’s ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and Cliff Richard’s ‘The Young Ones’. P. Ramlee’s ‘Gelora’ and L. Ramli’s ‘Dara Pujaan’ were our favourite local numbers. Investing hard-to-come-by coins in the jukebox at the town’s bus terminal was the best I could do to honour these crooners.

But that was then, today it is something else. The chasm between Baby Boomers like me and those from Gen X and Gen Y is as wide as the Pacific Ocean. Bridging this generational gap is well-nigh impossible.

Back to Ipoh’s changing social scene. On Friday, July 19, the newly-opened Symphony Suites hosted a talk by world-renowned shoemaker, Datuk Professor Jimmy Choo and Ipoh-born and controversial radio and television presenter, Patrick Teoh. The event was organised by Perak Academy as part of its Perak Lectures series, the 100th since its inception in 1999.

What was most exciting about the meeting of the two ‘giants’ were the liberal exchanges the duo engaged in on the making of Jimmy Choo, a name synonymous with ladies footwear in the volatile fashion world. A Jimmy Choo is worth its weight in gold, literally. A pair can fetch as much as USD10,000 (RM32,000), something beyond the reach of mere mortals like us.

But we take pride in the fact that a humble shoemaker from Penang had made it big in the international arena. And he did it by weaving his magic into the heart of the late Princess Diana, the Princess of Wales. Diana was hooked on Jimmy Choo’s shoes and had several designed by him before her tragic death on August 31, 1997.

Editor's Desk - A changing social scene
Professor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari

The other was the Policy Talk organised by Harold Kong at his restaurant, St Mike’s Bistro opposite the famous FMS Bar. Harold Kong is a chartered accountant by profession. He is one of the many returning Ipohites who, having made his fortune abroad, decided to come home for reasons of expedience. This former St Michael’s Institution student wants to plant his roots here rather than in Australia and Hong Kong where he worked for over two decades.

Harold’s policy talk on Saturday, July 20 was the seventh in the series. The guest speaker was Professor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari formerly of Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia. Aziz was a law professor at the university and has written several papers on constitutional laws, something unheard of among our local academia. His assertion that a “country with a constitution may not be necessarily constitutional” is a sad reflection of our country. The fact that our Constitution has been amended over 800 times since 1957 confirms the belief that the principle of separation of powers between the Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary in Malaysia is a myth. “That was so until March 2008 when the ruling coalition lost its two-thirds majority in parliament,” said Aziz.

These two events exemplify the many social activities taking place in Ipoh. There are many more, some mundane some exciting. One must have a keen eye for these happenings. Looking up the Announcement column on page 4 of Ipoh Echo is a good start.

 

Lahat Road Bridge Update

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One lane of the Lahat Road bridge over Sungai Guntong will be opened before Hari Raya next month. This was informed to Ipoh Echo by a spokesman for MBI’s drainage section when enquiries were made with the department.

Lahat Road Bridge Update

The spokesman stated that the reason for the delay was due to “general utilities was still being re-sited” and added that both lanes will be opened to the public by the end of August.

In April this year, Ipoh Mayor, Dato’ Roshidi Hashim had announced that the bridge would be completed and opened to transport by June. When the June deadline passed Ipoh Echo readers had called in July enquiring for the rescheduled completion date.

The flood mitigation project and upgrade of the bridge was started in 2010. The project costing RM4.89 million was scheduled for completion a year later but has been delayed till now.

JAG

Lenggong Valley Revisited

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June 30 marks the first anniversary of Lenggong Valley’s declaration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In conjunction with this auspicious day, Tourism Malaysia (Perak) organised a familiarisation trip beginning June 29 to July 1.

The 39 participants were representatives from the media and travel agencies with most from outside of Perak.

Lenggong Valley Revisited 2

The first destination was Lenggong Valley Archeological Gallery, the first prehistoric museum in Malaysia which was opened in 2003. Artifacts and other rocks discovered in the valley are exhibited here, along with replicas of prehistoric human skeletons.

Mohd Shahrin, Director of Department of Natural Heritage, Central Zone briefed the participants on the two-and-a-half year process of gaining UNESCO recognition.

According to him, various stages of works on improving the infrastructure of the sites are in progress. They include fencing, erecting of promotional billboards, signages and interpretation centres.

The following day 4-wheel-drive vehicles were used to traverse the bumpy roads leading to Bukit Bunuh. Evidence show that there was a meteor crash at the site around 1.83 million years ago. Civilisation was predicted to exist long before that according to the tools embedded in the suevite rocks found.

The tour continued to Bukit Sapi, where ashes from an enormous volcanic eruption in Sumatra 75,000 years ago were scattered. Ashes were said to be found as far flung as Pahang, Selangor and Kedah.

A treacherous hike up Gua Gunung Runtuh followed, where Perak Man, the oldest-known human skeleton in Southeast Asia was found in 1990. Carbon-dated at around 11,000 years old, it was the most complete Paleolithic skeleton excavated in Malaysia. He was diagnosed to be suffering from a genetic deformity known as Brachymesophalangia Type A2 and was 40-45 years old when he passed away due to gum disease and infection.

Lenggong Valley Revisited 1

Gua Kajang was next. Located within the Bukit Kepala Gajah limestone complex, human civilization, believed to have existed between 5,000 to 11,000 years ago, was evidenced by  pottery, stone tools, food remains and human skeletons found here.

The last day of the trip consisted of a bus tour around the royal town of Kuala Kangsar.

According to Ahmad Kamarudin Yusoff, Director of Tourism Malaysia (Perak), the trip was necessary in order to show travel agents and media representatives what Lenggong Valley has to offer so they can better promote it.

“We hope to develop educational holiday packages to attract both local and foreign tourists, as part of the strategy for Visit Malaysia 2014,” he said.

Lena

Sayong Riverfront a One-Stop Tourist Centre

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The Sayong Riverfront in Kuala Kangsar is set to be a one-stop centre for tourists visiting Kuala Kangsar. This was announced by the newly-appointed Minister for Tourism and Culture, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz during a visit to the touristic spot recently.

The objective, according to the minister, is to promote the Sayong Riverfront as a centre for the exhibition of Perak’s handicrafts, culture and food, and to provide much-needed exposure for the state’s nascent homestay industry.

Sayong Riverfront - a One-Stop Tourist Centre

“This effort goes to show that economic potentials offered by the tourism industry can be exploited for the benefit of all,” he said in his opening remarks when launching the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 mini carnival held at the spot recently. “It can be developed positively provided the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship are being embraced.”

The minister said that RM30.2 million had been allotted to Perak under the Tenth Malaysian Plan to develop 38 touristic projects in the state.

Nazri visited Kellie’s Castle in Batu Gajah the following day to see the progress of works to improve the iconic building, which is a major tourist draw to the state. He complimented the Public Works Department for ensuring that the RM5 million allocated for upgrading works is being well spent. The on-going project which began in September 2011, involves the upgrading of public toilets, building of a mini theatre, a square and the renovation of the building’s interior.

Present during the minister’s visit was the Executive Councillor for Health, Tourism and Culture, Nolee Ashilin bt Dato’ Mohammad Radzi.

RM

Signs of Eye Problems – Part 2

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

Eye Health

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about THE WARNING SIGNS OF EYE PROBLEMS – PART 2.

Our eyes are not isolated from medical problems like diabetes and hypertension, and also other factors like the effects of aging, the harmful rays of the sun, smoke and dust around us.

Warning Signs

There are some symptoms and signs that may indicate prompt treatment  be required. In most cases, you should see your eye doctor immediately if you experience some of the following:

 

See fingersDouble vision or ‘ghost’ images

Double vision is also called diplopia. This symptom may be caused from eye conditions ranging from minor to serious. In most cases, any sudden onset of double vision cannot be taken lightly. This is because it may be a signal of an underlying condition such as a stroke.

The other conditions that may cause double vision are brain tumours, nerve paralysis, brain swelling and abnormal brain vessels impinging on some part of the brain. Sometimes a person may need to be referred to neurologist or neurosurgeon depending on the kind of stroke that occurs.

Remember that if you have a sudden onset of double vision, see your eye doctor or general practitioner immediately. Quick treatment is invaluable in these cases.

Irritated eyes with redness and a scratchy feeling

Often this is as a result of dry eyes. It is not really an eye emergency but if left untreated may affect the eyesight of the individual affected. The symptoms of dry eyes may at times be very  severe, Dry Eye Syndrome is also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (quite a mouthful). It is a condition due to the changes in the quantity or quality of the tears. Dry eye normally occurs as irritated eyes.

Dry eyes may affect vision because it disturbs the tear film layer on the cornea that is  essential for good vision. Our tears help bend the light on its way to the back of your eye (the retina) so that you can see nice and sharp images. Consult your eye general practitioner for advice about remedies, which may include over-the-counter or prescription eye drops.

Blurred Vision with Eye Pain, Nausea and/or Vomiting:

These vision changes may be due to an acute glaucoma. Since there may be associated symptoms like vomiting and nausea, the glaucoma may sometimes be missed and passed on as gastroenteritis. The patient may end up seeing their Physician only to be picked up as a glaucoma suspect to be sent to the ophthalmologist. Keep a lookout for this if you have a family history of glaucoma.

Sudden Brief Loss of Vision

You may be experiencing a condition called Amaurosis Fugax. The name  is derived from the Greek word amaurosis meaning ‘dark’, and the Latin word fugax meaning ‘fleeting’ – referring to a transient loss of vision in one or both eyes. It may be a symptom of Central and Branch Retinal Artery occlusion and must not be taken lightly.

These are only some of the warning signs. Never hesitate to seek professional help if you experience any unusual eye symptoms that you are unsure of.

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-545 5582) or email gilleyecentre@dr.com

Hockey: Ready for the Asia Cup

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Hockey - 9th Asia CupAll is ready for the 9th Asia Cup, Men’s Hockey Tournament to be held at Ipoh’s Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Stadium from August 24 to September 1.

Perak Hockey Association Chairman and Asia Cup Organising Chairman Dato Abdul Rahim Mohd Ariff when contacted, acknowledged that the preparations for the tournament are ready.

Currently the facilities and schedules are ready and the organizers are waiting for the team list and training schedules datelined at the end of July.

The tournament will have eight countries participating. The Group A teams are Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan and Chinese-Taipei while Group B consists of Korea, India, Bangladesh and Oman.

The first day’s matches on Saturday August 24 will be played between India and Oman (2.05pm), Pakistan and Japan (6.05pm) and Malaysia and Chinese-Taipei (8pm).

This Asia Cup event is a qualifier for the World Cup to be held in The Hague, Netherlands next year. Currently none of the Asian teams have yet qualified to play at the World Cup. Hence hockey fans can expect to see some intense matches between these Asian teams as they battle it out for that single ticket for the World Cup.

Malaysia’s Coach Paul Revington, who a month ago had threatened to quit but has since resolved his issues, was quoted as saying to be “looking forward to working with other coaches and officials and win the Asia Cup gold in Ipoh”.

Going by the previous scene during the last Sultan Azlan Shah tournament held in March this year where fans could be seen enthusiastically cheering on Revington’s boys, I dare say we can expect more of the same which will hopefully stir the Malaysia team to a solid victory. Malaysia’s best placing in the last eight Asia Cup tournaments was in 2007 when we finished in third place beating Japan 5-3 while finishing in 4th place four times.

JAG

Idolising a Scottish Planter?

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Jerry FrancisMy Say

By Jerry Francis

Are we not idolizing a Scot, whose only contribution to the country was being a rubber planter who left behind his unfulfilled dream to live like a White Rajah? Even Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz appeared to have admitted it when launching the new features at the Kellie’s Castle near Batu Gajah recently.

”Kellie’s Castle deserves to be appreciated not only for its design but to remember its former owner, Scottish planter William Kellie Smith, for his ambition to become a lord in this part of the Earth,” he said.

Kellie's Castle

Thanks to branding and successful promotion, this abandoned and yet to be completed monument to posterity, the so-called ‘castle’ has become a popular tourist attraction in Perak. But, having immortalized Kellie by promoting the site, is that not enough of an effort? Do we actually need to go to the extent of spending more taxpayers’ funds to furnish a lounge and bar areas of the building with replica of old English furniture, antique items complete with curtains, carpets and paintings to reflect how they might have looked during William Kellie Smith’s time?

Well, does anyone really care how William Kellie would have lived if he was alive and had completed the construction of his castle? No doubt, William Kellie could have given some indications of his choice. This is not necessarily how he would live and furnish the building.

Thus, those responsible for assembling them could only say that they are “60 to 70 per cent” similar to what Smith would have conceived them to be. Furthermore, what significance would these new features have on our Malaysian culture?

We do not have to imitate other well-known sites abroad. Like the exhibits in the Windsor Castle, the 14th century Kellie Castle in Scotland, and various mansions in the United Kingdom. Those old and exquisite collections once belonged to royalty and lords who had actually lived in the buildings and as such they could take the visitors through a memorable trip of the country’s past.

I was also horrified by the suggestion, of some tourism officials, to resume construction of the building and to complete it to its intended grandeur. Fortunately the suggestions were shot down, otherwise more taxpayers’ funds would be spent.

Kellie’s Castle is attracting tourists now largely because of the story of William Kellie’s failed dream to have a lifestyle of a maharajah of India and the ghost stories being spawned around it. And also because it is ideally located along the Simpang  Pulai-Batu Gajah Road.

These latest features in Kellie’s Castle were developed out of a RM5 million allocation from the Federal Government. I feel that any expenditure, in the case of Kellie’s Castle, should be confined to providing sufficient facilities, beautifying the surroundings and ensuring the safety of visitors.

If there is any need to reflect the lifestyle of anyone, it should be that of our own prominent personalities in Perak – that is to show the custom and tradition of Malaysian history.

It saddens me to see the federal and state authorities paying so much attention to Kellie’s Castle at the expense of other tourism sites in Perak, which are badly in need of funds for development and promotion.

One such important site which needs our immediate attention is the last of the tin dredges at Tanjung Tualang – a heritage from the glorious past of the tin mining industry in the Kinta Valley. Save the dredge before it disappears completely.

The state has great potential as a tourist destination in the country as it is endowed with various assets, such as natural attractions, heritage and archaeological sites as well as seaside resorts.

 

Kinta River a Tourist Attraction?

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On a Sunday morning drive along Jalan Lim Bo Seng to visit the Memory Lane flea market, I noticed that the level of water in Kinta River was very low, the lowest I have ever seen.

Half of the dam built across the river to maintain minimum height of water in the river had collapsed and water was flowing freely. Many dead fishes were floating in the slow-moving water. Many dead fishes were also stuck at the side of the river and a fishy smell was strong.

Kinta River

A big log was lying on the river bed. Old debris was lying mostly at the side of the banks with other garbage and Indah Water is still discharging its foamy effluent into the river.

River Walk is being promoted as the latest tourist attraction in the city. What impression would  tourists have about our city when they see the condition of the river.

The Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) must immediately take remedial action and restore the river to its natural state.

Meanwhile, I went to Sungai Pari to see the condition there. From Jalan Raja Bridge I noticed the level of water was low, but was flowing freely. The water looked less muddy, hardly any garbage floating and there were no dead fishes. There was silting at the sides and many of the retaining concrete walls have collapsed. It looks like the river is not being maintained either.

A. Jeyaraj

Empowering Youths

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Perak FA head coach Azraai Khor Abdullah has officially revealed that he will be utilising some of the President Cup players for the upcoming Malaysia Cup campaign.

The Seladangs are currently preparing for the tournament and Azraai has called up six names from the highly talented Perak President Cup squad, including the likes of Mugenthirran, Nurhakim Isa and Syamil.

Empowering Youths

Speaking to Ipoh Echo, Azraai said, “I have always liked the idea of developing youth players and that is exactly what I’ll do for the Malaysia Cup. Six players have been brought in from the President Cup squad and I’m hoping they’ll make a big impression.”

“Mugen and Syamil in particular, netted 14 goals each in the President Cup, and that’s a terrific start for players of their age. So, hopefully, these guys will be able to make us proud by doing well.”

Preparation for the Malaysia Cup has been going well, despite them only being able to train at night due to the fasting month of Ramadan. However, a mini crisis erupted recently when Thai side Muangthong United expressed their desire in prematurely ending Paulo Rangel’s loan stint in Ipoh.

“We’ve been training from 10pm to 12am every day due to the fasting month but everything seems to be going well.”

“Yes, Muangthong wants Paulo back but the man wants to stay, so that’s a good thing. We’ve expressed our desire to keep him so I think he’ll remain here.”

The Malaysia Cup should be an interesting battle ground for Perak, as they seek to regain some pride from what has been a frustrating year. Azraai’s decision to empower the Perak youth players is commendable. Let us hope it will reap dividends.

Keesh

SeeFoon does a ‘Steak’ Out in Greentown

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musings on food - food reviews3Musings on Food

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

Maria’s is a long established restaurant in Greentown and has garnered a following and a reputation for being one of the best steakhouses in Ipoh.

One has a choice of sitting outside on the pavement and watch the world go by or inside in cool comfort where the steak aficionados come. Here you can mull over the signboard that lists the various types of steak available. And there is a tempting choice available too, one to suit most palates and pockets.

One can order a chilled Australian Ribeye Steak (about 200g) for RM48 or pay more for the Angus at RM44 per 100g. Then the tastier selections come in (not that Angus is not tasty but there is a difference) and with it the price. Wagyu Beef (an Australian version of the Japanese Kobe) comes in 3 grades, 5, 7 and 9 with incremental prices per 100g as the numbers go up (see prices below). Of course at the top of the list is the quintessential steak, the Kobe and here at Maria’s it’s a grade number 6.

Maria showed me the Kobe Steak before whisking it away to be grilled and it was pink and completely well marbled. This is one time to throw caution to the wind and forget about clogged arteries and cholesterol, I said to myself. And what a treat it was and am I glad I decided to indulge.

Marie's Restaurant & Cafe 4

The Kobe Steak weighing in at around 200g arrived on the table with simple steamed vegetables, carrots, broccoli and pan-fried potatoes. Maria recommends in the menu itself not to have sauces with the steak but of course will comply and provide on request. Also she recommends eating the steak either medium rare and best rare. Well my steak was a trip to paradise. Served rare, I could almost cut it with a fork, being so tender. The meat was succulent, fragrant  and the mouth feel, velvety smooth.

To be fair, I was so carried away by my Kobe Steak, that I forgot to mention that Maria’s is not ONLY a steakhouse. They do have an extensive menu that includes the usual pastas, soups, lamb, chicken and fish dishes. The pies at Maria’s are particularly well known and popular, all homemade by self taught chef Maria Tan. I particularly like her Beef Pies which are juicy inside, with a crust that is crumbly and flaky at the same time.

Marie's Restaurant & Cafe 3

We started with an Oxtail Soup, thick and robust with two pieces of oxtail whose meat fell from the bone effortlessly. This was served with a slice of garlic bread and followed with a Caesar Salad, creamy dressing with chopped walnuts, beef bacon bits and croutons.

The fish dish came next, a Grilled Salmon Steak topped with Bonito flakes (dried skipjack tuna) and served with an interesting citrus sauce of orange, soya and zest. Unusual flavours.

 Marie's Restaurant & Cafe 1

The finale came with the Tiramisu, this one with strong hints of brandy and Tia Maria liqueur smothering the sponge finger base and infusing the mascarpone cheese filling with its fragrance. Chocolate shavings sprinkled on top finished the presentation which was wolfed down in a jiffy. I almost regretted agreeing to share one portion between two people.

Marie's Restaurant & Cafe 6

All in all, Maria’s is a well-rounded restaurant that is strong on steaks but non beef eaters will also get a good meal and those with belly room left over can look forward to the choice of desserts and cakes that Maria’s is famous for.

Beef Steaks:
Kobe                           RM185 per 100g
Wagyu # 9                 RM115 per 100g
Wagyu # 7                 RM85  per 100g
Wagyu # 5                 RM70 per 100g
Angus                         RM44 per 100g
Oxtail Soup               RM 19.50
Caesar Salad             RM14.00
Seafood Spaghetti   RM 23.50
Salmon                      RM38.00
Tiramisu                    RM13.50

Marie's Restaurant & Cafe 2

Maria’s Restaurant and Cafe (Pork Free)
60 Persiaran Greentown 1
Pusat Perdagangan Greentown, 30450 Ipoh
Tel: 05-242 4233
Business Hours: 4pm-11.30pm daily.   GPS:  4º 36.942’N, 101º 7.365’E