By A. Jeyaraj
Recently, I was told to visit the Palong Tin Museum along Kinta River Walk to see its present condition. Towards the bridge, there is a signboard showing the way to the museum.
The museum building was empty and locked. The sign “Palong Tin Museum” engraved on the glass wall is still visible. On either side of the door is placed a water jet which was used to loosen sand. Further along the road, there are two buckets which were used to scoop the sand.
A palong costing RM500,000 was constructed. It is supposed to be an operating unit but I have never seen it in operation. (Palong is the structure where tin ore is separated from the sand.) The place where the palong is constructed is not maintained and overgrown with grass and bushes. It is not safe to go near since there may be snakes and other reptiles in the bushes. The place is neglected and I doubt anybody goes there. Eventually, the structure will crumble.
I spoke to Sasvini, Finance Assistant, Kinta Riverfront Hotel who is responsible for managing the stalls including the museum along the river bank. She said they have no plans for the museum and asked for my opinion. She informed that she would talk to her boss and come back to me, but never did.
In Issue 312 of Ipoh Echo, (Sep 16-30, 2019) there was a news item stating “Menteri Besar Incorporated MB Inc invites the public, especially university undergraduates on semester break, to apply for the Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge No. 5, TT5 Volunteer Programme.” I came across a pamphlet “TT5 Packages Services” which was sponsored by MB Inc, Tourism Perak and other organisations. Tours are organised. Recently, when I went with my family to Tanjung Tualang for seafood, I noticed a number of cars were parked at the parking lot of TT5. This was not so in the past. There are signs that action is being taken to make this place a tourist destination. Public transport should be made available from Ipoh and posters put up at the Ipoh Railway Station.
My suggestion is that the palong and the equipment should be relocated to the TT5 area and set up there. There is already a museum in this place. We can have all the things related to the tin mining industry in one place. The Palong Tin Museum building is empty now, but in the early days, there were many artefacts. I remember seeing a tin ingot. The walls had posters with information about the tin mining industry. What has happened to them? Where are they now? The artefacts and posters should be recovered and placed at the new location.
I will not be surprised if one of these days someone takes away the equipment that is kept in the open space. There is very little security at Kinta River Walk. Anything is possible in “boleh land”.
There may be private tin museums and artefacts kept by individuals. They should also be brought to the new location. Let us have one central place where all things about the tin mining industry can be seen.
During the peak of the tin mining industry in the 60s and 70s, Perak was the richest state and Ipoh was the trendsetter for the country. School children and youngsters should be taken to visit TT5 and the museum. They should know the history of Ipoh. Without tin, Ipoh would not be what it is now. Let us be proud of our past and try to regain our lost glory.