Tanjung Rambutan – Awakening From Slumber


By James Gough

Tanjung Rambutan, which was once synonymous with the lunatic asylum in its township, and had existed under the shadow of the communist insurgents’ long drawn-out war, is to be awakened from its slumber.

Economic Development For A 19th Century Town

It has been listed by the Perak Government as one of the 14 small towns to be developed to provide balanced development and economic distribution between the urban and rural areas in the state.

Kolej Sains Kesihatan Bersekutu

Under the programme known as Projek Pembangunan Pekan Kecil (Small Town Development Project), the one-street town located at the foot of  Banjaran Titiwangsa (Main Range) in Ulu Kinta just east of the city, will get a boost in the development drive. A number of projects are being planned.

It will undoubtedly remove the town’s stigma as a place for mental patients due to the presence of the mental health institution which was known as Federal Lunatic Asylum when established in 1911 and later as Tanjung Rambutan Mental Hospital (now as Hospital Bahagia).

Tanjung Rambutan was built towards the end of the 19th century with public offices and government quarters on one side of the main street from the Kinta River to the railway station and 300 building lots on the other side. The Railway Station was opened in 1897 complete with a Post and Telegraph Office, while the first Chinese school, Tat Choi, was built in 1922. Apparently, the town proper has remained this way since then even though its outskirts have seen some development.

Ulu Kinta Constituency

Dato’ Rusnah Kassim

The town is within the State Constituency of Ulu Kinta, which has a population of 90,000. The constituency covers Chemor, Tambun, Tanah Hitam and Tanjung Rambutan.

Geographically, it consists of the usual mix of industries in the Kanthan area, farms in between Chemor and Tanjung Rambutan, civil servants living in the area of Taman Perpaduan and an Orang Asli community living above the hills along the main range.

Despite its integrated mix of economic activities, about 20% of its residents or 18,000 are still considered as being in the underprivileged category.

The data was compiled by the elected representative, lawyer Dato’ Rusnah Kassim, from the weekly visits by the residents to her service centre for the past two years. According to her, most of the residents are poor and many of them are single mothers.

Residents’ Livelihood To Be Elevated

In an effort to elevate their livelihood, she successfully appealed to the state government to include Tanjung Rambutan under the small town development programme last January.

Rusnah is confident that under the programme, the area which has so much untapped potential could be developed with the aim to elevate the socio-economic standards of the residents.

She feels the infrastructure in the constituency needs to be upgraded to contribute to the overall economic development. And, therefore Rusnah will be heading up the Ulu Kinta Council’s Development Plan to quicken the development.

Bus Service Priority

Early this year, Rusnah together with Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim officially opened a RM25,000 bus stop along the main road in Tanjung Rambutan. Rusnah identified her priority issue as improving the bus service. “There is a bus service, though poor, running from Ipoh to Tanjung Rambutan only and not till Chemor. This causes hardship for the kampong residents there especially for school-going children.”

TR Bus Stand


Another project to be developed is to upgrade the town’s market at a cost of RM6 million. It is to be located at the main road where the current market now stands. A food court is to be included in the development plan.

Need to Solve Land Issues

The Chief Executive of Perak State Development Corporation, Dato’ Samsudin Hashim, who heads the project, confirmed that Tanjung Rambutan had been included in the project this year. “The objective of the project is to develop a small town’s infrastructure to be a catalyst for the surrounding area and contribute to economic development,” he explained.

However, he said, to achieve the goal it would need to solve the land issues first. Hence the timeline is normally three years, two years for planning and implementation, and one year for delivery. Samsudin nevertheless agrees that Tanjung Rambutan “won’t pose too much of a challenge as most of the components, such as infrastructure and community participation, are already in place.”

Economic Viability

His sentiment is shared by Perak think-tank Chief Executive of Institute Darul Ridzuan, Aminuddin Hashim, a committee member of the project. Aminuddin indicated that “though we don’t have full data yet the economic activities in the area showed dynamism. The main issue is only how to cluster the activities to enable it to be economically viable.”

The area has already seen much development over the years. They include the National Stud Farm, Police General Operations Force’s brigade headquarters, and Teacher Training College. Various property development projects are in progress in the area. Among them are up-market property developments which include The Haven, a high-end condominium project; Sunway Properties, another up-market housing development which includes its tourist resorts: the Lost World of Tambun, Banjaran Spa and Bukit Kinding Resort nearer Chemor.

Positive Economic Impact


Orang Asli Village

In the middle of this year Kolej Sains Kesihatan Bersekutu, a nursing college set up by the Ministry of Health and located within the sprawling grounds of Hospital Bahagia, will open its doors to 4,000 students. The trickling-down effect will certainly benefit  the town.

Famous Limau Bali (Pomelo) orchards at Tambun have been attracting visitors. Meanwhile, Roots Eco Resort, located on the banks of the Kinta River, arranges eco-field trips for local and international students during school breaks, and takes its guests to the Orang Asli settlement nearby as part of its package.

With so much positive feedback, it is almost certain that Tanjung Rambutan will be a vibrant township in the near future, which should be in another three years.

5 thoughts on “Tanjung Rambutan – Awakening From Slumber

  1. I’m running a business in Tmn Tg.Perdana.I’ve been cheated by the developer of this place.At first, the developer promises us that there will be a main road to be build in front of my shop.They even told us that IF the main road has not built, CF(CERTIFICATE OF FITNESS) wouldn’t be issue to us.That means the DBI will not approve the developer to complete this project unless the main road is built.But since 2004 until now still no progress.I really wish to know what’s the problem of the main road here and when only the main road to be built?

  2. The centennial of Hospital Bahagia this year should inspire some to further develop its very livable neighbourhood.

    The development of any small town must retain the advantages of its size. While it lies in the shadow of being the town of the mental hospital, the beauty of TR are often overlooked by casual visitors to Ipoh. Its attractions can be sustainable provided responsible development and visitation is strictly enforced. The new Kolej adding 4,000 to the town may benefit local traders but also put pressure on its capacity.

    Cleanliness is a problem in small towns and I was alarmed by the eatery operating in the old railway station. TR will lose its railway station but the 1897 building has been earmarked and as a landmark. By all means, estore and uprade it and improve its sanitation for the glory of its residents. Better yet, use part of the building for a local museum; my source informs that KTM has plans to contribute the building to the welfare of its local communities.

    It is time for small town communities to band together to foster that sense of place and enrich its cultural landscape for the future generations.

  3. If the bus stop in the picture costs RM25,000, someone must have been joking? Or someone made a very good profit from it.

  4. Felix,

    I have read the article “Awakening from Slumber” and nowhere could I see any reference to Tanjong Rambutan being a slum. Nor the implication that it was a town full of lunatics. The mention of lunatics was in relation to the old name of the Hospital Bahagia as it is now called and referred to the mental patients who were housed there. Nowhere did the article suggest that the townsfolk were lunatics.

    I think the title of the story to “awaken from slumber” is a good one…..suggesting that a sleepy town is about to “wake up” to progress and development.

    I agree with your point about not over-developing TG but please get your English right before you write. The Ipoh Echo, as I have observed, writes a fairly high level of English ( unlike some of the bloopers I have read in other local English publications) and I’m sure the editors are careful in their choice of words used.

  5. I must contest and denounce that the title “…Awakening From Slumber” is a terrible misnomer. TG is never a slum nor a town full of lunatics .It is a place that retains a lot of small town charms where people are still doing their rudimentary livelihoods. I hope (and willfully wish) under the blissful hands of the authorities, would take every cautious step and rational decision NOT to over-develop TG and preserve its traditional vitality.

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