Why Isn’t the 129-Year-Old Memorial Stone Elephant 1894 Being Adequately Preserved?

By Aida Aziz
Photo Jejak Warisan Teluk Intan

TELUK INTAN: If there is no memorial created in Sungai Kerawai here, surely many new generations will not know the incident of a male elephant attacking a steam train carrying three passenger carriages on September 17, 1894.

Unfortunately, turning 129 years old, the ‘Memorial Stone Elephant 1894’ which located near Taman Melor here is worn out and overgrown with weeds until it has sunk from public view.

It is understood that the last time it was cleaned was about five years ago, and that was the result of an initiative carried out by a non-governmental organization (NGO) in collaboration with the local authority (PBT) through gotong-royong.

But now it is quiet again, without monitoring by relevant parties or may be stalled due to funding and allocation constraints.

The issue regarding the current state of the memorial has been expressed several times on social media, and even some NGOs who were active in reviving the area expressed their disappointment because it was not restored by the more senior party.

The Vice-Chairman of the Malayan Historical Group Association (MHGSoc), Nor Hisham Zulkiflee said that efforts to restore the historical value of the old railway line were led by several parties.

“The effort was initiated in 2018 by Iskandar Zulqarnain from the Perak Community History Lovers Association, from there they worked together and repaired the memorial sign. It also got the cooperation of the local community and the Teluk Intan Municipal Council (MPTI).

“At that time the area was successfully beautified plus funds obtained for the works. But after that it was interrupted due to COVID-19, then the party leading this effort moved outside Perak, starting from that moment it began to be idle until now.

“If there is no effort by the NGO and the parties concerned, it seems that not many people know about the historic location, but it is rather sad because it is left desolate and poor when it is a historic location not only in Perak but Malaysia,” he said when met.

He said, previously there was no suitable access for visitors to come to the location, but with the efforts of the parties involved, it has attracted people’s interest in taking pictures there.

“The area is also part of the legacy of the Tapah Road to Teluk Intan railway that used to exist, it was stopped around the 1990s.

“If it is not cleaned it will be difficult for visitors to find the location or the memorial sign because it is covered with weeds and bushes, quite dangerous too if there is no care.

“If you want to place the responsibility on the NGO to clean it, it is not appropriate because of the constraints of allocation, time and so on.

“It seems that Tourism Perak and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) have come down there to promote together, but unfortunately it did not continue. The PBT should also play a role to ensure that it is kept awake,” he added.

A little background regarding the memorial, on September 17, 1894, a steam train carrying three passenger carriages and a mining tow who had just returned from inspecting several mining locations in the state was attacked by a male elephant.

Following the accident, the locomotive and carriage derailed and the line between Tapah Road and Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan) had to be temporarily closed for repair work.

No passengers were injured in the incident and they had to walk to Teluk Anson Railway Station, less than three miles from the scene.

As a result of the collision, the elephant died on the spot. According to I.H.N. Evans, the elephant skull was the heaviest recorded in the history of the Malay Peninsula at that time.

To commemorate the event, a sign was erected where the elephant carcass was buried.

The skull and two elephant tusks are now kept and displayed in the Muzium Perak, Taiping, while the thigh bone, which is almost a meter long, is displayed in the mini foyer of the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) Muzium Johor Bahru.

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