By Jerry Francis
Each time I take the short boat ride across the “lagoon” to the hidden garden of Gunung Lang Recreational Park and return, I feel a sense of great disappointment.
Since I highlighted the deplorable condition of the once beautiful park eight months ago, I have made a number of trips – paying RM1.50 (senior citizen fare) for the return trip by motor-boat.
I have been hoping that the Ipoh City Council would give the park a complete facelift, or develop it into a magnificent botanical park. Surrounded by greenery and limestone cliffs, the park has the potential of being turned into a unique tourist attraction to make Ipoh proud.
Instead, the gazebos are rotting and about to collapse, the aviaries are damaged and empty, the shrubs and flower plants appear to be neglected, broken benches and collapsed sheds are everywhere and the deer and ostrich in the enclosure are in poor condition.
Nothing much seems to have improved, except some of the overgrown bushes and creepers have been cleared, and the embankment reinforced against erosion.
However, it is heartening to know that Mayor Dato’ Zamri Man had assured that public parks in the city would be spruced up and returned to the people.
But, it will be a mammoth task to achieve as negligence over the years had reduced the park to a pathetic state, which would require a big amount of funds to redevelop.
About RM11 million was spent on the park over a decade ago so that it could be a premier family recreation spot for city folk and a tourist attraction. Its artificial waterfalls with the name of the park above the cascading water can be seen by motorists along the north-south expressway.
Despite the time and money spent on the project, the park still failed to achieve its desired objective and was left to rot. I am sure the influx of visitors during the recent school holidays, who had packed motorboats operated by the city council for a five-minute trip across the lake, too. must have felt the same after visiting the garden.
Many of them, including foreign tourists, were seen spending hardly half an hour in the garden and took the next boat out. They must have felt “cheated” as they had expected to see a well-kept beautiful garden.
“All I saw was poor maintenance,” claimed a businessman from Pantai Remis, Lim Ah Wah, who had visited the park with his wife and two children. “Everywhere there is withered plants, damaged pots, damaged gazebo, and cracked floors. I didn’t make the trip here to see a dying public park.”
Lim did not understand why the city council had failed to improve and maintain the park. He had visited a number of public parks abroad and saw how efficiently they were maintained even though they were older than the Gunung Lang park.
A trader from Tapah, Hassan Din said he heard about Gunung Lang from a friend and decided to take his wife, three children and a nephew to visit the park.
“After about a 20-minute walkabout, we had seen enough and decided to leave,” he said. “What a pity, we had come with the hope to have a good time, but left disappointed. Only the three kampong houses and two newly-constructed toilets are still in good condition,” he added.
The park was first discovered by the Rotary Club of Ipoh over three decades ago and they decided to adopt it. It was then approachable only through a tunnel under a limestone hill. The tunnel has since been closed.
It was later taken over by the Ipoh City Council and developed into a recreational park with a new entrance from the lake.
Are these what the visitors take a boat ride to see?