International Baccalaureate diploma programme students of The Malay College Kuala Kangsar first embarked on this project in October last year. This project was first mooted by Kinta Heritage Group, a non-profit organisation based in Ipoh. The collaboration of the Malay College Kuala Kangsar and Kinta Heritage has resulted in this well-researched and high quality tourism brochure for the royal town of Kuala Kangsar. The brochure, which is now in its final phase of production, is expected to be ready in April, bears testimony of the boys’ love for Kuala Kangsar, the town of their alma mater. This is also their contribution towards Visit Perak Year 2012.
Information on 24 historical places and six precious local crafts have been included in this brochure. There is also information on the Royal Household of Perak. All this information was gathered from magazines, books, newspapers and the Internet. The students also conducted interviews with local residents of Kuala Kangsar to obtain further information.
When the places were successfully identified, the students, their teachers and consultants from Kinta Heritage tested the trail to ensure the suitability of it and to decide whether it was going to be a cycling or walking trail.
Historical places in Kuala Kangsar such as ‘Istana Iskandariah’ and ‘Istana Kenangan’ are already well-known to the public but in this map, the public will also be able to get information on other places such as ‘Kedai Tinggi’ and ‘Sri Sayong Palace’. It is hoped that the Kuala Kangsar Heritage Trail Map will create awareness among the people, locals and tourists alike, that more effort should be put in the preservation and conservation of historical buildings and places in the town.
Kuala Kangsar is known for its traditional crafts. The crafts included in the brochure are keris making, labu sayong, tekat embroidery, batik painting, mengkuang weaving and silverware production. It is hoped that the inclusion of these crafts in the brochure will help preserve them for posterity. As Kuala Kangsar is a royal town, information on the history of the Perak Sultanate has also been included in the brochure. In fact, this section is considered an essential element in this brochure.
This project will be launched in April. It has been a great learning experience for the students to be involved in a project such as this.
Kinta Nature Park, a heritage from the tin mining industry in the Kinta Valley, is acclaimed to be one of the biggest bird sanctuaries in the country. Its existence is however threatened by the incursions of commercial activities. Wildlife conservationists are worried and want the authorities to do something to protect the park quickly. The park emerged after mining operations ceased and the ponds surrounded by secondary jungle began to attract more than 130 species of birds. One of the islands in the cluster of 14 pristine ex-mining ponds has also become the largest heronry in the country. It will be a waste if the potential of developing the area as a tourist attraction is ignored. It could be the best place for bird-watching. Almost 60% of the birds are listed as totally protected or protected under the Protection of Wild Life Act 1976.
The threat to the existence of the park is very real. There have been reports of instances where a whole pond with five breeding species of 2,000 water-birds is located, had been fenced up with the intention of starting commercial fish farming.
Other commercial activities in the area included sand extraction and duck farms. Although the authorities are readily admitting that such activities are illegal, somehow they have been operating there for years.
There are at least 2 huge duck farms in the area and the nutrient run-off from that is very damaging to the freshwater ecosystem. Sand mining appears to be sporadic. School groups which were there have counted at least 5/6 truck loads per hour leaving the area, causing a real problem for the many bee-eaters that nest in the area (bee-eaters nest in sand banks). As the sand banks get destroyed, so are the bee-eaters.
Ten years have passed since the Perak Government announced that the park is in the process of being gazetted as a wildlife sanctuary, yet nothing has been done. If all goes well, it will be officially gazetted as a State Nature Park soon.
According the state chairman of tourism, Dato’ Hamidah Osman, the plan has been approved. “ Now we have to identify which department is going to manage the park as it requires manpower for maintaining the park, keeping the visitors’ area clean, tidying the parks and also enforcement of the rules governing nature parks.
“Once the park is gazetted we will mark the boundary and stop all commercial activities within, similar to what is being done at Royal Belum.”
About The Park
The Kinta Nature Park is located 6 km south of Batu Gajah. It is a strip of land wedged between the Kinta River on the west and the railway track to the east. The Kampar River is on the south. It covers an area of 900 hectares of mining land that had been dredged for tin. By mid 1980’s when the tin industry collapsed, the land was left idle allowing it to rejuvenate and heal itself. In time it began attracting water-birds and had become a habitat for a variety of wildlife.
One of the ponds, Lake Pucung, is over 41 ha wide. It is where the visitor’s area and observation tower can be found overlooking an island, where five major families of herons and egrets have made it a permanent home.
The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) in the mid nineties, being aware of the potential biodiversity of this location, made a proposal to the relevant state authorities to set aside the area as a gazetted nature park to be used for recreation, tourism and education.
According to Mr Lee Ping Kong, MNS vice-chairman, the State Government in 2001, then under Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Tajol Rosli, approved the creation of the Kinta Nature Park. At the same time the state government built the existing infra-structure such as, the observation tower resting huts and public toilets at a total cost of RM625,000 and indicated it would subsequently gazette the area as a nature park.
Unfortunately till today, the park has yet to be officially gazetted which “is a cause for concern for MNS”, said Lee. “Illegal commercial activities must be stopped. Sand mining contributes to deforestation ,while duck farming and fish harvesting affects the supply of food; all of which severely affects the ecosystem within the park.”
According to Lee the number of birds recorded nesting on Pucung Island a year ago numbered 3,000. With the disruption to the ecosystem MNS has noted a drop “of more than 50% of the bird population.” The park is also a safe haven to a large number of small mammals such as otters, and civet cats (musang) and has a record of 80 species of flora and fauna, one of which is the endangered Vanda Hookeriana, a parent species of the orchid Vanda Miss Joachim.
A quick check with the District Officer of Kampar, Encik Ahmad Kamaruzamman Hisham, who has jurisdiction over the park, revealed that his office had stopped issuing sand mining licenses two years ago. As for the duck farms, Ahmad claimed, “There are no duck farms. If there are please make a report to us and we will take action.”
According to Lee, due to its size MNS had proposed the park to be divided into three zones which would cater for the public such as the current visitors centre, another zone for recreational activities like camping and hiking, and a third zone for natural habitat. “If the park is able to recover and rejuvenate naturally it has the potential to be similar to an open zoo where visitors can drive in and view animals living in their natural habitat. It would be our contribution to future generations.”
Eco-Resort Director, Bridget Hedderman who operates the Roots Eco-Resort at Tanjung Rambutan, has included the nature park as one of her tour destinations, and describes the park as “completely amazing. It’s the largest heronry in Malaysia and it is easily accessible”, Bridget rated the site at 9 out of 10 in quality. Over the last four months Bridget has exposed three groups of students from Singapore, Hong Kong and locally to the park.
Jek Yap of Kinta Heritage told Ipoh Echo that Kinta Heritage has committed to maintaining cleanliness of the park and will send a clean-up crew twice a week to clean the toilets and other public areas. The gazetting of the park is also timely and would be a positive factor should the proposal to turn the Kinta Valley into a tin heritage site become a reality.
According to Hamidah the park is “an environment that cannot be created. In fact we can package this park together with the dredge which is just a few km from the southern boundary of the park and promote it as a living heritage”.
Apparently Lee is not the only person who sees potential in gazetting this park as a nature park. Ipoh Echo hopes that all the promises made will become reality soon.
The Perak Tourist Association (PTA) together with the Kinta Heritage Group recently organised a Ipoh Heritage Walk through the streets of Old Town.
According to PTA President Hj Odzman Abd Kadir the purpose of the walk was to create awareness of the many heritage sites available in Ipoh.
The heritage trail was based on the heritage map produced by the Kinta Heritage Group which features 24 heritage buildings such as the FMS, St Michael’s School, the Chinese Miners Club Han Chin Pet Soo and the Birch Memorial clock tower which are located between the roads bordered by Club Road, Clayton Road, Post Office Road and the Kinta River.
Close to 140 participants took part in the walk made up mainly of the public with a smattering of officials from Perak Tourism and tour guides.
Five tour guides from PTA guided the groups around, stopping at specific buildings to explain the background of its cultural heritage. The duration of the trail lasted approximately 2 hours.
The response from the participants was positive. The Trail as a tourist product had a lot of potential. The Heritage map with a photo of the building and accompanying write up was user friendly enough for tourists to take the walk by themselves and appreciate the heritage value of the area.
Negative points raised by the participants included:
1) The sidewalks (some) were too high, uneven and pavement tiles were missing.
2) The area around the Birch Memorial clock tower was shabby and dirty. The clock was not working.
3) The tour guides conducting the tour should carry a loud speaker.
Kinta Heritage Director Jek Yap, who initially printed 30,000 of these maps and distributed them FOC to hotels and tourism bodies explained that the intent was for it to be used as a tool to encourage tourists to visit Ipoh’s heritage sites.
Kinta Heritage will be coming out with another 3 maps which will eventually cover the whole of Ipoh, Old and New Town.
Ipoh should be glad to have pro-active groups like PTA and Kinta Heritage who have the initiative to create a new and viable tourism product.
PTA Odzman aptly said that “as an NGO we have our limits but at least we can be a catalyst”. Hence it is hoped that the local tour agencies and agents will now help to promote heritage tourism as a new product.
Readers, who are interested in getting a copy of Ipoh Heritage Trail Map 1, can go to Perak Tourism’s website: peraktourism.com to print a copy.
If all goes well, Ipoh could be the centre of a World Heritage Site for Tin Mining. This was revealed by Senior Executive Councillor for Tourism Dato’ Hamidah Osman during a familiarisation tour at Old Town’s ‘Concubine Lane’ recently.
Accompanying her on the tour was Ipoh Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim and the Chairman of Kinta Heritage Jek Yap.
Hamidah reiterated that tourism was an important economic sector for the state which had an abundance of products. Perak Tourism had already identified 10 icons for the state and was now clustering the icons, linking Belum and the Perak Man at Lenggong and Taiping with the Matang Mangrove Forest.
The plan for Ipoh is to promote it as a World Heritage Site for Tin Mining. The centre would be Ipoh but generally “the heritage site would be the whole Kinta Valley stretching from Ipoh to possibly Kampar” explaining that “the towns of Papan and Kampar generated the income but the residents came to Ipoh for a social life”.
The new tagline for Tourism in Perak will be ‘Nature and History’. “For Ipoh we already have the Nature in the products of Gua Tempurung and Gopeng. Now when we promote heritage we need to have the history behind the products whether they are buildings or even Concubine Lane to elaborate to the tourists, for them to understand and appreciate the heritage product”. This is where NGO’s such as Kinta Heritage could assist, she added.
The tour only covered Concubine Lane (officially known as Panglima Lane) and Treacher Street, a distance of 200 metres but lasted for almost 2 hours. During that time she met residents along the lane, checked out the houses and was given a tour of the 100-year-old Chinese Miners Club, Han Chin Pet Soo where she even took a photograph on the back balcony upstairs overlooking the Kinta River.
Dato’ Hamidah, who admitted that she was a distant relative of the Panglima Kinta, the original owner of all the land on which is now Ipoh, said the mere mention of a name should “start a historical narrative of the person behind the name”.
Hamidah also hinted that the heritage product would not be confined to Old Town but would eventually include New Town.
Hopefully when the whole plan materialises, tourism in Ipoh and the Kinta Valley will truly be an important sector which will contribute significantly towards the economy of the state.
Dato’ Hamidah – Tour Trivia
1. Chinese Desserts
Dato’ Hamidah suggested that the Chinese Deserts such as Leong Fun and Mo-Mo Cha-Cha should be promoted as these are delicious local desserts. She made the statement when taking refreshments at All-In Café located at the junction of Leech Street and Panglima Lane after her familiarisation tour.
All-In Café is a kopitiam-styled coffee shop serving regular noodles with liew and desserts. Its manager Ms Lee Siew Mee recently received their A grade certificate for cleanliness from MBI.
2. Tin Dredge
Dato Hamidah has reconfirmed that the project to preserve the last remaining Tin Dredge in the country is “still on. Until today I have not received the report from the consultant. Based on the cost we will then decide whether to relocate or otherwise”.