Taiping is often where many people think of whenever referring to the first of something in Malaysia, but many overlook the fact that Ipoh is also a city of firsts.
Let’s look at 10 Malaysian “firsts” that Ipoh has had the privilege of having done.
According to historical activist who is also the Secretary of the Perak Heritage Association, Nor Hisham Zulkiflee, the existence of “the first thing” in this city is believed to be related to the development of Ipoh which was once nicknamed the city of millionaires around 1910.
“If Taiping is famous for the first 33 things, Ipoh also has its own story and a legacy that still remains today.
“The first 10 Malaysian things in Ipoh may have something to do with the heyday of the tin ore industry and rubber plantations a long time ago,” he said.
Nor Hisham said, based on information from the Planning Department of the Ipoh City Council (MBI), there are 10 first things in Malaya and Malaysia.
He explained the first 10 are : The First Vehicle Registration Center in Malaysia, which was established in 1911 while the Ipoh Town Plan Exhibition was Malaya’s first ‘town planning’ session, held in September 1927.
Next, the First Restaurant in Malaya which is FMS Bar on Brewster Road (Jalan Sultan Idris Shah) in 1906, Installation of Malaya’s First Traffic Light, at the intersection of Jalan Tambun/Hugh Low Street (Jalan Sultan Iskandar) and Jalan Gopeng/Brewster Road (Jalan Sultan Idris Shah) in 1937.
He said that, apart from that, Malaya’s First Geological Survey Department Office was completed in Tiger Lane in 1957, Malaya’s First Steam Street Light Installation in Jalan Tambun in 1938.
Installation of the First Parking Meter in Jalan Sheikh Adam in 1961, First Local Authority to manage a public library in Malaya in 1962.
Construction of the First Multi-storey Car Park in Malaya in 1962 and finally Ipoh was granted city status through the Local Government Act 1976, Act 171 and became the first Local Authority to be upgraded to a City Council in 1988.
“This First Vehicle Registration Centre is related to the ‘A’ number plate in Perak, Ipoh used to have a lot of vehicles so the centre was established here.
“FMS Bar is still operating near Padang Ipoh, originally it was a club or a place for lEuropean people to gather.
“The installation of the first traffic lights is close to the Perak Chief Minister’s Residence roundabout, before the roundabout was built there, there were traffic lights to facilitate the movement of many vehicles at that time.
“The office of the First Geological Survey Department still exists until now, the building is still the same and has been used as a Geology Museum. It is interesting to visit because there is a lot of interesting information about geology there,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said his side always strives to provide information and general knowledge about the country’s history and heritage to the public.
He further explained that various initiatives have been set in motion. Although there are times when they face various challenges and complications in order to preserve a heritage that may be lost to time.
For example, he said, his side always took the opportunity to participate in exhibitions at certain programmes such as Car Free Day in Ipoh, in addition to imparting knowledge at schools and universities.
“Every month we will open an exhibition stand at the Car Free Day organised by MBI, where we can spread knowledge about the history, origins and heritage of the state of Perak in particular and the country in general.
“The response from the public is really encouraging. They will stop by and ask something if the topic we highlight is interesting,” he added.
by Rosli Mansor