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Should We Be Ashamed Of This Garden?

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How can Ipoh City Council live up to its slogan “Bersih, Hijau Dan Membangun” (Clean, Green and Developing) when it cannot even keep up with the maintenance of a once beautiful garden in the city centre?

Upas tree

Described as a mini Taj Mahal, the garden – Medan Stesen surrounded by some of the city’s most famous iconic heritage buildings – Moorish architectural Railway Station, Colonial-style Town Hall and High Court buildings, has been the focal point for locals and visitors. It offers a postcard view of the city.

It is also smack in the path of those arriving by train, which has increased its trips between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh daily since the introduction of the electric train service. Just take a look at it. Is the city council doing enough to maintain the garden? I am ashamed as a resident to point this out, but it is necessary before the garden deteriorates further. What used to be appealing is now appalling.

The only Pokok “Upas” (Antiaris toxicarial), from which the city got its name, is in the centre of the garden. It was planted by the Rotary Club of Ipoh in January, 1980, and has grown into a healthy matured tree. A marble plaque under the tree, which contains some information about the tree, has lain smashed into pieces on the ground for months. Yet, no attempt has been made by city council to replace it. Only the plaque laid by the Rotary Club to commemorate the planting of the tree is still intact, but the words are fading.

The non-functioning fountain collects water and litter

The beautiful fountain with water spouting high and lit at night, stopped functioning years ago. All its magnificence has also faded. Some mosaic on the fountain walls and tiles around too, are breaking up. The rusted piping system of the fountain is exposed with a pool of water and litter inside. It appears to be an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes in which case, to whom is city council going to issue the summons?

The fountain is like an unwanted child. It is being left to whatever fate the city council may decide for it later. At one end of the fountain, the war memorial which commemorates Perak’s war dead of the First and Second World Wars, has been vandalised. The inter-crossing footpaths and rows of shrubs and trees are poorly maintained. Litter bins are toppled and litter often swept under the plants, which are not properly trimmed. Racks, brooms and dustpans are also left under the shrubs. For now it has to endure an existence in disgrace under the excruciating gaze of the hundreds of people crossing over to the railway station or strolling about in the garden.

Smashed marble plaque under the tree

The garden is the first place that visitors to this “city that tin built” will see on their arrival by train. This is also the first image they will record with their cameras. It is also the starting point of the “Heritage Trail”. Therefore, it is important that the city council maintain a good “first impression” of the city.

Perhaps the majority of the city residents are paying very little attention to the garden nowadays. After all it is no longer attractive. But what will the tourists say when they decide to take a peep into the fountain. Needless to say, I will be ashamed.