Tag Archives: ipoh echo issue 176

Lafarge Malaysia Berhad – Kanthan Quarry Development


In view of the letters titled, “Quarry’s response to complaints” and “Historical limestone gone forever” published in the September 1-15 issue of the Ipoh Echo, Lafarge Malaysia Berhad (formerly known as Lafarge Malayan Cement Berhad) would like to reassure the public that it is committed to working with local stakeholders to promote and protect biodiversity. Around the world and in Malaysia, Lafarge employs a sound and responsible approach to its quarrying activities, and has in place quarry development plans which take into account sensitive environmental aspects.

Underground mining is a common method employed for mining coal, gemstones and rocks. Mining techniques deployed are dependent on geological and hydrological conditions. Each situation is very unique and the area where underground mining takes place needs to be very stable. In the case of Gunung Kanthan, taking into consideration the necessary conditions required, we are not looking into this option.

To address biodiversity concerns, Lafarge is currently working with local stakeholders and, more specifically, is collaborating with a qualified and independent team at the University of Malaya’s (UM) Institute of Biological Sciences to assess biodiversity sensitivities in the area. The UM team is working in partnership with Lafarge’s International Biodiversity Panel whose members include representatives from IUCN France and the Wildlife Habitat Council amongst others.

Moving forward, Lafarge will continue to engage environmental groups, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to work towards preserving biodiversity at Gunung Kanthan. We will only make a decision on how to proceed with our quarrying operations once the relevant studies, including biodiversity have been completed.


Sekar Kaliannan

Kanthan Plant Manager

Lafarge Malaysia Berhad

SeeFoon Goes Gastro Bar Hopping


musings on food - food reviewsMusings on Food

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

Where I used to be the doyenne of pubs and nightspots with loud music I now shun places where the decibel level is higher than 65 (the decibel level for normal speech), seeking instead, venues where quiet conversation, good food and reasonably priced drinks are the raison d’etre for going.

So when my gang of office colleagues suggested that I go bar hopping with them, I shuddered and was about to decline when one of them said, “The food is pretty good and if we go early, like after work, its not noisy”. After much cajoling, I relented and we all traipsed off to Bricks & Barrels for an early dinner.

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Arriving at 6.30pm, the lights were dimmed and a few tables were already occupied mostly with drinkers. One big family of varying ages occupied almost one side of the room and it was heartening watching them tucking into platter after platter of food and relishing each bite.

Bricks & Barrels-1Our ‘small’ group of seven settled at one of the high tables with their equally high stools and proceeded with our order. Regular tables and chairs are available in the back garden but as the area was only fan cooled, we opted to stay in the air conditioned section in the front. The temperature here was comfortable enough and the piped music bearable to my ears, although the decibel level heats up considerably when the live music from Urban 7 begins at 9.30pm.

Bricks & Barrels is one of the new breed of ‘gastro’ pubs that have begun mushrooming in Ipoh. Based on the concept of an English pub and instead of serving boring pub grub as most are prone to do, gastropubs are meant to elevate pub food to gastronomic levels offering wholesome well prepared food at prices that while not cheap, nevertheless won’t make a hole in people’s pockets.

Bricks & Barrels does this well. This is a place where families can come to taste and sample western food and leave before the party crowd descends. This is when the music gets raucous and the beer and booze really start to flow.

The menu at Bricks & Barrels is quite extensive although starters are restricted to three soups, two salads and a ratatouille which is a mediterranean-style stewed mixed vegetable in a tomato base served with sourdough bread. The mushroom soup which arrived was fragrant, thick and creamy and for the small eaters at our table, more than enough for two people. A Tapas or snack menu also serves as an alternative to starters and one has a choice of a variety of small titbits to whet one’s appetite as one waits for the main courses to arrive. These range from fried lamb bits to fried calamari or squid, buffalo wings or chicken bits.

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The specialty at Bricks & Barrels appear to be meat with Pork dominating the menu and starring in myriad roles. From the English Roast Pork belly to the Roasted Teriyaki Pork Loin, or the Porky Parmigiana which is pan fried, breadcrumbed pork loin, topped with cheddar and mozzarella cheese, the pork menu is extensive.

Pork also shows up in their pastas in their Porky Carbonara, with Italian Parmesan cream, portabello mushrooms and bacon; their Roast Pork Aglio Olio which is simply spaghetti tossed with virgin olive oil, garlic and topped with roasted pork belly chunks a’la our Chinese Siew Yoke, combining elements of east and west; and their Spaghetti Porky Bolognese, the perfect option for those who don’t eat beef.

And if that wasn’t porky enough, three of their pizzas feature pork from the Hawaiian Pork Pizza with bacon, pineapple, Italian mozzarella to the Roast Pork Pizza and the German Sausage Pizza. Their pizzas are thin crusted, crispy and well worth ordering. On the night we were there we ordered the Smoked Duck Pizza which I would go back for.

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But the crème de la crème and the most impressive dish is their Porky Platter, a Hog’s heaven for 4-6 people consisting of 3 types of German sausages, barbecued spare ribs, roast pork and potato wedges. Two types of sauce came with the platter as did Sauerkraut (German pickled cabbage) and pickled gherkins. The spare ribs were falling off the bone tender and the roast pork with its superb crackling a real treat, not to mention the crispy potato wedges which I couldn’t resist picking at. This platter was certainly enough for the seven of us with leftovers to spare.

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We then ordered the Creamy Seafood Spaghetti with a white wine parmesan sauce, squid, prawn and capelin roe. This was delectable, with generous chunks of scallop, squid, big prawns, sundried tomatoes and the white wine bringing the right smidgen of tartness to the sauce. And to my delight, the spaghetti was al dente.

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Bricks & Barrels-7By this time we were groaning with surfeit but soldier on we did and ordered dessert. We only managed one as the others we wanted were out of stock. The ingredients in this dessert intrigued us and proved to be worth the effort. This Premium Vanilla ice cream was topped with olive oil, sea salt and a raspberry balsamic glaze, marrying savoury with sweet. This was a mixed marriage that worked, the sea salt and virgin olive oil bringing a hint of the Mediterranean to an otherwise bland dessert.

Of course other meat items are also on the menu with chicken, lamb and even Wagyu beef but for me I will go to Bricks & Barrels for their porky dishes.

Ladies will be pleased to know that on Tuesday nights, selected complimentary cocktails will be served and massive discounts given on other cocktails.

  • Creamy Seafood Spaghetti — RM30
  • Spaghetti Roast Pork Aglio Olio — RM24
  • Mushroom Soup — RM12
  • Soup of the Day — RM6
  • Caesar Salad (with chicken) — RM20
  • Smoked Duck Pizza — RM32
  • Roast Pork Pizza — RM29
  • Porky Parmigiana — RM23
  • Porky Platter (for 4-6 persons) — RM98
  • Tapas — From RM13-RM16

Bricks & Barrels
28-30 Jalan Lau Ek Ching, Ipoh.
Tel/Fax: +60 5-253 8558
Email: BricksAndBarrelsHQ@facebook.com
Sun-Thu: 5pm-1pm;  Fri-Sat: 4pm-2am
GPS:  N 04° 35.919  E 101° 05.133

Ave Maria’s ‘Sparkling’ Graduation


Ave Maria’s ‘Sparkling’ Graduation

On October 4, Form 5 students of Ave Maria Convent held a graduation night themed “Go Forth and Sparkle” at Impiana Hotel. The programme started off at 7pm with speeches from a student representative and Dato’ Liew Yin Yin.

Students from every class took their turn to either act or dance on stage. There were many kinds of dances throughout the night. There were Latin dance, rhythmic gymnastics, k-pop dances and even dances from the ‘60s. Students who danced to One Direction songs and the latest craze “Mother Father Gentlemen” by PSY got the most applauses and cheers.

Before the night ended, the students sang their theme song which they composed, filling the ballroom with voices of the Form 5 students. Teachers and students went home with wide smiles on their faces, sparkles in their eyes and pictures for memories while some went home with lucky draw prizes.

Susan Ho

Accounting for Their Actions



By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

2013 Auditor General's reportAt the rate things are going today it will be a matter of time before the inevitable happens. Are we heading for a catastrophe far worse than what is experienced by Greece and Portugal? I don’t wish to be an odious naysayer or an obnoxious armchair critic who harbours ill feelings towards his kinsmen and country. My forte is definitely not foretelling troubles and bleakness and a future devoid of colour. But being a keen observer of my surroundings, my predictions are seldom wrong.

Take the petrol price hike on September 3, as an example. I have harboured thoughts that the prices of RON 95 and diesel would go up once the general elections are over. It took barely five months after the ruling coalition was reinstated in Putrajaya for it to happen. My other fear is the implementation of the long-awaited Goods and Services Tax, which will come our way soon.

The consensus among economists is that businesses would find a way to escape the tax regime while the rich would not be impacted. As in the past, the well-heeled are never affected anyway, as they have the means and the resources to doctor their documents and to grease the palms of those concerned.

Poor enforcement and rampant corruption are two factors that hamper the proper implementation of government policies and directives. For as long as there is a will there is a way. I have many anecdotal examples to back my claim. Poor monitoring and the “tidak apa” attitude of enforcement agencies at border regions, especially at the Thai border, has allowed foreigners to buy our relatively cheap fuel not in litres but in drums.

The sensitivity of Malaysians to a possible price hike is simply incredible. On the evening of Friday, September 27, I was shocked when the petrol station near my house was swamped with motorists eager to fill up. It did not occur to me that rumours were circulating on the social media that the price of RON 95 would be increased by another 10 sen. It took none other than the Deputy Prime Minister himself to quash the rumours by issuing a statement to the contrary. Apparently, news of a possible hike in cigarette prices was also making the rounds. No wonder my favourite mamak shop was similarly swamped that very day.

But these minor excitements are nothing compared to the din created by the 2012 Auditor General’s Report, which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, October 2. Here are some glaring examples of wastage and mismanagement committed by federal agencies whose integrity I question:

Topping my list is the more than RM1.33 million worth of assets lost by the police force. Missing items, according to the auditors, included 156 pairs of handcuffs, 44 firearms (pistols and rifles), 29 vehicles, 26 walkie-talkies and 22 radios. The loss is enormous by any definition and, being a former serviceman, I find the reasons given by the Inspector General of Police simplistic and incredible.

One of my platoon commanders, during an operation in the Belum jungles back in the early 1980s, used his M16 assault rifle to shoot fish in a creek. Instead of firing the weapon from above he dipped the barrel in the water and fired. The force of the water caused the barrel to split like a bamboo. He was duly charged and court-martialed. His negligence caused him a forfeiture of seniority and was made to pay for the damaged weapon. Another officer lost his 9mm Brownie pistol while on a train ride to Johore Bahru. He too was court-martialed and suffered a reduction in seniority and was made to pay for the loss.

In both instances, the punishments were swift, as a regimental board of inquiry is required to be convened within 21 days upon the report of a loss or damage of a controlled item(s). That is the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in the army. I don’t know about the police but I am sure there are SOPs in place. How effective their SOPs are is left to your imagination.

The Home Minister and the IGP have attributed the missing weapons to training – the firearms sank to the bottom of the sea! Seven, according to the IGP, have been recovered making the final number as 37. Thirty seven can equip a complete rifle platoon with some to spare. That is the enormity of the problem. You just cannot dismiss it as something insignificant.

The other on my list is dubious purchases by the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry. Twenty wall clocks at RM3,810 each, three A4-size scanners at RM14,670 each and five A3 scanners at RM103,105 each. The prices are simply unbelievable.

The list of improprieties goes on. My question is why the seemingly lack of action taken against the wrongdoers? Is the AG’s Report a mere eyewash and a distraction? Civil servants have to be more accountable for their actions.

But is accountability possible in an environment where political masters are equally culpable? Your guess is as good as mine.


The Role of Civil Society


Dato’ Dr Muthiah AlagappaWhat does “civil society” mean? Many people associate it with non-governmental organisations and other bodies not linked to the government.

But, in all honesty, its definition is far beyond that.

Civil society is the third sector of society that manifests interests and the will of citizens, independent of the government.

At a recent lecture, jointly organised by Perak Academy and Institut Darul Ridzuan, through Majlis Masyarakat Sivil Amanjaya, speaker Dato’ Dr Muthiah Alagappa spoke on the topic, “Strengthening Democracy in Malaysia: The Role of Civil Society”.

Dr Muthiah is Tun Hussein Onn Chair in International Studies at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Kuala Lumpur.

The first half of the lecture was on how to go about strengthening democracy while the second, on the role of civil society in strengthening democracy.

The lecture began with a general discussion on the principles of democracy, relevant provisions in the constitution and the practice of democracy in Malaysia since Independence in 1957.

Dr Muthiah bared the constitutional weaknesses of Malaysia; two very glaring ones are the lack of a Bill of Rights, which spells out the political and civil rights of citizens, and its over-focus on Federal legislation, as opposed to State legislation, the power of the State.

Other weaknesses include the fundamental erosion of the judiciary system and the excessive concentration of power with the Executive.

Suggested measures to correct these weaknesses are through four main pillars namely, strengthening electoral democracy, strengthening democratic governance, democratise the state and strengthening civil liberties of individuals.

So, how does one go about strengthening democracy? The initial step is to reform the electoral process, including increasing the equality of votes and improving representation in constituencies.

The judiciary system also needs to be strengthened by rebuilding public confidence.

Ultimately, what is required is a mindset change, to reduce dependency on the government, and to move from an ethnic-based to a civic-based nation.

It is, therefore, important to ensure that democracy is the only form of governance in Malaysia. It is a legacy that should be cherished considering the turmoil in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia.


Need for a Second Hospital



By A. Jeyaraj


Considering the hardship Ipohites face to access Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh’s General Hospital, it is about time that a second hospital be built. Roads leading to and out of the hospital are virtually clogged up daily.

The tempo builds up and around mid-day, getting to the hospital is an exercise in futility. This is being exacerbated by inconsiderate motorists who park their cars by the sides of the main road. The situation becomes ugly on Fridays when Muslims flock to the nearby mosque for prayers. The hospital’s car park is simply too small to accommodate even the minimum number of vehicles.

Need for a second hospital

Space is definitely a problem and unless this is adequately addressed, there is little prospect of it being resolved.

Under the Tenth Malaysian Plan two new hospitals were built, one in Kampar and the other the upgrading of the Kerian District Hospital in Parit Buntar. These additions may help overcome problems in the state but not in Ipoh, per se.

Ipoh, with a population of over 670,000, needs another hospital to meet growing demands. The present hospital with its existing structure and facilities cannot cater for the city’s residents. It was okay during the colonial period, as conditions then were not as complicated as they are today.

Seeing is believing and all one needs to do is to take a ride along Jalan Hospital during noon hours to see the mayhem. It becomes more acute on Fridays when Muslims perform their obligatory Friday prayers.

The state government should consider the implication of a delay. The state may not have the funds to build another hospital on its own. But rather than waste money on unnecessary projects, it is prudent to build a second hospital for the benefit of Ipohites.

Expanding Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, as a stopgap measure, is impractical as space is a major constraint. Therefore, the reasons for a second general hospital are valid. Turning to the Federal Government for funding is one possible option the state government needs to consider seriously.

Another Budget Hotel Opens


Tulip Hotel opened its doors recently. Located at Sunway City Ipoh within walking distance to the Lost World of Tambun, the Tulip offers business and family-friendly hotel accommodations and services at an excellent value. The hotel rooms are stylishly designed with premium bedding and a choice of pillows for the best possible sleep experience. Every room is attached with a large shower space, which includes a filtered water system and great water pressure to help you start your day off right.

Another budget hotel opens

The facilities they provide are free wireless access, air-conditioning, telephone and LED TV with Astro subscription. To ensure guests stay at ease, security cameras and burglar alarm systems are installed to monitor the lobby, hallway and parking area.

Tulip is designed specifically for travelers who are looking for an affordable stay without compromising comfort. Tulip provides five different types of room to cater for individuals, group corporates, local or foreign visitors and even families. Rooms range from RM70 nett for a single room to RM140 nett for a family room.

For more information log on to www.gotulip.com, find them on Facebook, contact them at +605-541 7199 or write in to info@gotulip.com for booking assistance.

Memory Walk


Some 1,600 people from all walks of life, both young and old, participated in Ipoh’s second Memory Walk, held on Saturday, September 28 in conjunction with World Alzheimer’s Day. This day is remembered throughout the world on September 21 annually.

Jointly organised by Dementia Society Perak and Universiti Kuala Lumpur Royal College of Medicine Perak (UniKL RCMP), the objective of the 5-km walk was to raise awareness regarding memory impairments, commonly known as dementia, which is often mistaken as part of an ageing process. Alzheimer’s is one type of dementia.

The walk, which was flagged off by Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim, also saw the participation of Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon, former Executive Councillor for Health and Dr Esther Ebenezer, Chairperson of Dementia Society Perak. The society was established in October 2010.

Memory Walk

UniKL RCMP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dementia Society Perak on August 30, 2013, to adopt the society’s daycare centre currently located at No. 15, Jalan Foo Choong Nyit, Ipoh. The college sends students to the centre daily to help out with the clients. The students get hands-on training in return.

“Dr Esther has done a very good job in creating awareness in dementia. The adoption of the  day care centre by UniKL RCMP is an important milestone for the society,” said Mah to reporters. He urged other corporations to do likewise.

Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, disorientation and emotional disturbances. Although dementia is not necessarily an old age disease, the older one is, the higher the risk of dementia.

As Malaysia moves towards a developed nation status with an ageing population, more and more people are found to be afflicted with dementia, especially among women. About 30 percent of those above 80 run the risk of developing the condition. Although there is still no medical cure for dementia, medication and therapy can reduce the speed of deterioration.

The society’s centre is the only dementia daycare centre in Perak. It can accommodate only 15 per day. The society plans to build a new centre in Gunung Lang next year at a cost of RM3 million. This new centre can accommodate up to 50 clients a day.

The Dementia Society Perak, a non-profit organisation, runs the Dementia Daycare Centre on the generosity of the public. The centre gives caregivers respite from taking care of a family member with dementia for a nominal fee of RM20 per day. Caregivers are also given training on how to care for demented patients and how to handle their behavioural problems. Transport is also provided at an additional cost of RM5. Lunch is provided free by  Ipoh Specialist Centre and Pantai Hospital Ipoh on weekly rotational basis.

Those requiring information on the Dementia Day Care Centre can contact the society at 05-241 1691.


Theme Park Goes Spooky


Theme Park Goes Spooky

Ipoh’s only theme park, Lost World of Tambun, has oodles of activity  for the coming Halloween. In fact, for the entire month of October, the park has prepared itself for the end-of-month spooky day. Fun and thrills are in the offing for visitors of all ages.

Some of the creepy things on the card are the perennial “Tricks or Treats” at the Treasure Land, ghastly characters lurking around the park ready to pounce on unsuspecting visitors, a museum dedicated to Asian horrors, a haunted chamber and many more.

Make a date with the Lost World of Tambun and get the scare you so eagerly await. Click on the park’s website www.sunwaylostworldoftambun.com for details.


Nirmal Tops the List


Nirmal Kumar Mahindran, 22, of Chemor had every reason to be proud and happy, as the occasion was his to cherish. The lad from Chemor was adjudged the best graduate at TAJ International College’s 4th Convocation. The graduation ceremony, held at the banquet hall of Kinta Riverfront Hotel, Ipoh recently, was graced by the college’s Chief Executive Officer, Puan Tina Dato’ Hj Tajuddin and Executive Director, Mohd Azzad Jasmi. Tina gave away scrolls to 170 graduates from five diploma-level and one certificate-level disciplines.

Nirmal tops the List

Nirmal, a Diploma in Business Management student, gained a CGPA score of 3.85 points for his exams. “It’s been a challenging time for me at TAJ College. The knowledge I’ve gained will be beneficial for my further studies,” said Nirmal to Ipoh Echo.

The young man plans on pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at a private university in Kelana Jaya soon. Nirmal won the college’s valedictorian award in recognition for his achievement.

Ahmad Adid Jeman, 22, of Sibu, Sarawak was the top Faculty of Science, Innovation and Technology student. Ahmad gained a CGPA score of 3.70 points. “The result will brighten my prospect of a meaningful career in the motor industry,” said Ahmad who is currently on practical training at UMW Toyota, Sibu.