Category Archives: Commentary

New Projects Must Provide Parking Facilities


It was reported in NST’s Streets Northern (March 28, 2013) that Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim informed that MBI had approved 445 development projects last year and about half of them are in progress.

Ipoh has an acute parking problem in virtually all areas. MBI must stipulate that all new projects must provide parking facilities for their staff as well as customers. MBI must relook into the conditions of the approved projects and include this clause. Withdraw approvals if this condition is not met. If this is not done the parking problem is going to deteriorate further.

Furthermore, MBI must also ensure that all areas of the city are developed equally and there should not be lopsided development. It looks like development is only concentrated in certain areas. MBI must not forget that it collects assessment from all residents; maybe the amount is not the same. This must not be the reason for unequal development.

Appointed councillors can play an important role in seeing that their zones are developed. Development must not be confined to setting up industries and business premises only; healthy recreational facilities for children, adults and senior citizens are needed. All zones must have public transport, clinics, schools, mini post offices and reading rooms/libraries, markets, pondok polis and other essential amenities. Councillors should dialogue with the residents in their zones and get feedback.

A. Jeyaraj

Zambry Warns Councillors to “Shape up” or “Ship out”


I refer to the news item “Ratepayers want prompt action” (NST Streets Northern, March 16).

It was reported that Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said that the state government is fed up with constant complaints about bread and butter issues and warned local councillors to either “shape up” or “ship out”.

Last year, members of several civil society NGOs in Ipoh carried out a survey on MBI councillors to help ratepayers understand the roles and functions of city councillors, raise awareness on local government, enhance good governance and transparency.

The initial intention was to conduct a survey amongst all 23 MBI councillors, soliciting their response to a questionnaire with five simple questions.

Two important questions were: ‘Why do you want to be a councillor?’ and ‘How often do you meet residents in your zone?’

It is regrettable that all councillors decided not to respond, citing reasons which were unacceptable. They said that they were only answerable to their political party and not obliged to reply to NGOs. Instead of contacting us, they expressed their opinion in the daily Nanyang Siang Pau.

We then decided to approach our ratepayers for their views. A modified simple questionnaire with a ‘Yes/No’ answer was prepared and our findings on three important questions were:

81% of residents do not know who their councillor is.

92% of the residents have not seen their councillor in their area over the past twelve months.

83% of the residents are not satisfied with the performance of their councillors.

There are also a few dedicated councillors and one of them is Dato’ Daniel Tay, councillor for Lim Garden and Merdeka Garden. He visits the places that need maintenance and organises meetings between residents and MBI staff. However, some residents were not happy because he did not play an active role during the massive flooding.

The findings were handed over to MB, Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon, the Mayor and Exco Members. There was no reply. We doubt whether our authorities read letters sent to them by the ratepayers who are their paymasters. They are not aware of the real situation on the ground.

We highlighted that the present system of appointing councillors is a failure and councillors have very little interaction with the residents.

We suggested other options to replace the failed system, namely:

Councillors be elected.

Do away with councillors who act as middlemen and cut cost.

MBI can appoint Special Officers to accept/act on complaints from the public

MBI to hold sub-committee meetings at night so that the public can attend and participate in the discussions on various issues.

MBI to hold public hearings on new plans/projects and get feedback from the public before implementation.

Empty talk without concrete action plan is a waste of time.

A. Jeyaraj

[GASRA (Gabungan Solidarity Perak)

LLG Cultural Development Centre

Ipoh City Watch

Perak Consumers Association

Mafrel Perak

Lim Garden Residents’ Committee

Ikram Perak

Tamil Foundation]

Goal Setting For Success by Joshua Tan


Goal Setting For SuccessIf you are serious in getting out of a rut or simply want to redefine your direction in life, then Joshua Tan’s latest book – Goal Setting For Success is a must read. The advice given and emphasized, is to read through the whole book and not simply skim through it (yes this advice is for those lazy ones and you know who you are). The author has taken the trouble to design the material to ensure the reader is able to have a very practical view on goal setting. There are a lot of helpful and detailed workbook style layouts that can give the reader a real idea of what and how to plan towards the exercise of goal setting. The layout allows for quick reference, as each chapter is defined into different categories. Included in this book, are also a lot of actual examples which can be quite a good motivating factor, especially for those who may feel, theirs is a lost cause.

One particular popular phrase that is often used by society was corrected to give it more meaning and results…. PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT… better, when used as RIGHT PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT. Joshua also emphasizes that hardship is not a stop sign but merely a stepping stone, and this is important to understand, and accept, if people are to be steadfast in their struggle towards attaining their goals. A common phrase used – people do not plan to fail but fail to plan- is also something Joshua goes further to explain by providing a guidance tool – goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound.

Having more than 20 years in the consumer sales arena, Joshua has written several short training manuals that is based on his wealth of experience. He has an MBA from Nottingham Trent University and is also actively involved in several NGOs, such as YMCA, the Haggai Institute, and FGBMF. Ipoh Echo had the pleasure of featuring a book review on another one of Joshua Tan’s contributions. The book review on the Effective Sales Force Recruitment (IE125), where an endorsement by Dato’ Daniel Tay mentioned it’s a “must have”, ideal for employers and employees.

For those readers, who enjoy uplifting and worship style songs, there is an added treat for you. Joshua has included a set of songs that he penned which are beautiful and heartfelt.

‘Goal Setting For Success’ (131 pages) is priced at RM24.90 and can be ordered online at: or call Joshua Tan at 016-512 7635.

Serena Mui

Datuk Dr Madhuri Majumder


The International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievement of women in the past, present, and future. In conjunction with this honourable day, I wish to share about a truly towering lady in Perak.

Just mention Datuk Dr Madhuri Majumder, a name synonymous with Perak and people instantly recognize her. She is our country’s first woman dermatologist who has shown great enthusiasm to be of  service to humanity.

When she took over the reigns of the Perak Society for Promotion of Mental Health (PSPMH) in 1986 as the President of the society, she immediately introduced various activities for rehabilitation with occupational therapies like singing, dancing, orchid farming, ceramic and art projects, music and laughter therapy, handicraft production, glove packing and counseling sessions for all the patients who are housed at the centre.

The PSPMH’s patron is DYMM Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Shah and it is affiliated with the World Federation of Mental Health is also actively promoting mental health through education, information, conventions and forums for the benefit of the general public.

Datuk Dr Majumder has a strong bond with the patients, whom she affectionately addresses as the residents, being careful to never stigmatize mentally ill patients with the notion that they are crazy.

She believes that the biggest dichotomy that exists between mental illness and physical illness and disabilities is that, people with mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, epilepsy, substance abuse disorder and child and adolescent mental conditions are predisposed to a very high degree of economic and social marginalization. She also noted that they are habitually excluded from participation in society, subject to stigma and discrimination and are restricted from social activities.

Her dream is to rehabilitate these psycho-socially ill patients and send them back to  society as good as the next-able bodied person. To give an example, she has three of the society’s residents from the Ulu Kinta Centre being employed to take care of her house and assist in her clinic.

Datuk Dr Madhuri read Medicine at Calcutta University in 1959. A government scholarship took her to the United Kingdom to specialize in Dermatology and she came back to serve the government as the first woman dermatologist in the country. She scored another first when she was installed as the first woman Chairman of Perak branch of the Malaysian Medical Association in 1981. She also created history when she was installed as the President of Rotary Club of Greentown in 1995 – the First Lady President of a Rotary Club of Perak.

Last year during the state level women’s day celebration, she was bestowed the Women of True Beauty Award during the Anugerah Wanita Mutiara Perak, receiving the award from the Prime Minister’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

This illustrious lady recently celebrated her 80th birthday by launching the “Majumder Scholarship Fund” to assist needy children for their educational needs. This significant event is another milestone for this distinguish “Mother Teresa of Ipoh” as she is popularly known.

S. Sundralingam

Don’t Be Taken For a Walk


I refer to your article in the Community section entitled, “Walking for a Good Cause” (Ipoh Echo Issue 159, February 1-15).

I am Dr Shan Narayanan, a Consultant Paediatrician. Working with individuals with special needs is my passion. The incidence of Autism is on the increase but the opportunity for early intervention for these children is limited.

Thus I came up with the suggestion to form Autism Asperger’s Help Association (AAHA). The primary aim of AAHA was to set up an autism-specific early intervention programme. The formation meeting was held in my clinic and I was the founding president.

The association had no funds, no office and no teacher. As such, my clinic’s address was used as the registered address. My two sons donated RM1000 to open an account at Public Bank in Ipoh Garden. As more money was needed to take us towards the setting up of the AAHA Centre, I gave RM10,000 as a loan to the association, which I later treated as a donation.

We recruited a lady who now teaches at the centre. She was placed in Blooming Kidz for hands-on work for the whole of 2011 and was given an allowance of RM600 a month. I contributed RM300 towards her monthly allowance for the whole year.

As more funds were needed, I came up with the idea of a “Walk for Autism”. To get participants, I personally campaigned in various colleges during my clinic hours thus losing out on my income.

My regular patients’ parents donated between RM7000-8000. Upon my request, Dutch Lady Malaysia Sdn Bhd donated RM5000. Introduced by a parent of my regular patient, Camfil Farr Malaysia Sdn Bhd donated RM2500.

I resigned in early 2012 due to health reasons. The article says funds were collected by a “Walk for Autism” but the very foundation in which AAHA and AAHA Centre came about has been omitted.

The association is going to be three years old. The AAHA Centre is just one year old and is considered a “baby” in the Autism fraternity. I am shocked that in the article, the Centre is portrayed as having so much experience. It is just a basic early-intervention centre with limited experience in autism.

If AAHA Centre has indeed become an expert centre, I request those responsible to exhibit its accreditation certificate for public viewing. They also claimed to have four experienced teachers. Can they reveal their credentials? This is of utmost importance to assure the public and those with autistic children the credibility of AAHA and the Centre.

With these concerns and the moral responsibility to protect the public from being misled and to ensure that funds raised are not misused, I have made a police report. I have also lodged a complaint with the Registry of Societies.

Thus my message to the readers is WALK FOR AUTISM but DO NOT BE TAKEN FOR A WALK. Check your facts before contributing or participating.

Dr Shan Narayanan

The Passionate Perakean – Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik


Parti Gerakan Rakyat MalaysiaThe late Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik was born in Tapah and studied at St Michael’s Institution (SMI). He graduated as a doctor from the Queens University of Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1964.

Back home he served at the Taiping government hospital before setting up his clinic at Chemor. For his poor patients he provided free service while for the sick children he would play the clown for them, earning him the sobriquet of ‘the mad doctor’ from both the mothers and children.

That was the late Tun Lim Keng Yaik, a man of principle who was focused and passionate about whatever he set his mind to. Dr Lim entered politics in 1968 by joining the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA). He contested in the Pekan Baru state seat in Perak in 1969 on an Alliance ticket but lost.

Dato’ Azumu Tak, currently the Permanent Chairman for UMNO Ipoh Barat Division, knew Lim then. “I used to be his interpreter. For ten days during the campaign period, Lim would stand on the (soap) box (kotak sabun) speaking in English and I would translate. I would go to the MCA office to teach him simple Malay and later on when Lim became a Member of Parliament he would always introduce me as his ‘Malay teacher’”, he reminisced. Azumu described Lim as an outspoken politician, “If he disagreed with an issue he would freely speak his mind but he was a very fair person who spoke up for his Chinese community,” he added.

In 1971, Lim was made the Chairman of MCA Perak only to be expelled in 1973 for going against the MCA Chairman then, the late Tun Tan Siew Sin. He subsequently joined Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan) the same year. In 1974, he was made Perak Gerakan Head, the party’s Deputy President in 1976 and Gerakan President in 1980. Lim held the President’s post till he retired in 2007 and was succeeded by its current President Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

Lim became a state Exco when he won the Jalong state seat in 1978 and an MP when he won the Beruas Parliamentary seat by a handsome margin in 1986. Lim last contested at the 2004 General Election retaining his Beruas seat with a clear majority of 4564 votes. He retired from his Cabinet post shortly before the 2008 General Election. In the Malaysian Cabinet, Lim was made the Minister of Primary Industries from 1986 till 2004 and then appointed the Minister of Energy, Water and Communications.

In the ‘70s when Lim became an MP, Dato’ Brother Vincent Corkery, then Brother Director of SMI, received a call from the Cabinet Secretary asking after Lim’s school records. Brother Vincent, considering that Lim was a “safe investment” gave him a clean bill of conduct.

Dato’ Chang Ko Youn, currently the Deputy President of Gerakan, described Lim as a well known figure in Malaysia who was highly respected by all races on both sides of the divide. Chang joined Gerakan in 1983 after returning from overseas. Gerakan then, was an established non race-based party under the leadership of Lim and it was just what Chang was looking for.

According to Chang, Gerakan first started in Penang under Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu and was strong in Penang and Perak. However, when Lim took over the Presidency in 1980, due to his strong organizational skills, he brought the party to the rest of the country. “Lim had a lot of ideas and the ability to make things happen,” said Chang and an example was what he did for the palm oil industry when he was the Minister for Primary Industries.

Indeed it was during Lim’s time that the Malaysian products of timber and palm oil was developed and transformed through value-added products such as rubber wood furniture, enabling it to be competitive and sustainable to penetrate global markets.

Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian, CEO of Kuala Lumpur Kepong Plantations Bhd, was the Chairman of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and served under Lim for 13 years. According to Lee, in the mid ‘90s, Malaysia’s output of palm oil was 3-4 million tonnes. Today it is 19 million tonnes while Indonesia’s output is 26 million tonnes.

Lee mentioned Indonesia because even in the ‘90s, Lim had anticipated the exponential growth of the palm oil industry and encouraged Malaysian plantation owners to expand overseas and for Indonesian owners to expand their production base.

Lim’s strategy to market palm oil to the world was multi pronged. He streamlined and structured the local industry and formed MPOB. He created POPCA or the Palm Oil Promotion Credit Arrangement scheme and did extensive research on palm oil. He then marketed it to the world and promoted it to scientists, nutritionists and decision makers through conferences worldwide.

His extensive knowledge on the positive qualities of palm oil stood him in good stead when going against the powerful soyabean lobby where he effectively proved that palm oil was a healthier product. Lim encouraged the players to see the world as a market and playground where several local companies have now maintained refineries and distribution centres overseas.

For all of his rough and tough attitude, Lim was “a man who never bore any malice” said DAP Perak Chairman Dato’ Ngeh Koo Ham, “in fact he was always very witty”. Ngeh recalled that he and DAP Chairman Lim Kit Siang bumped into Lim in 2010 at the Tropicana KL. Lim offered to buy them lunch to settle any political animosity. When the bill came up to RM200, Lim smilingly told them “aiya you are very cheap to settle” and they all had a good laugh.

That was Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik, politically respected, always passionate about what he did and stood his ground for what is right, not forgetting his witty style of address, or as Brother Vincent described it, “a forthright style of expression but invariably getting the message across”.


Summoned for No Fault of Theirs


My relatives came down from KL during Merdeka Holidays and went for breakfast Saturday September 1 at 8.15am on Leech Street. Except for the restaurants, other shops were not opened and they looked around and did not find anyone selling parking coupons. After breakfast they found a parking ticket on their car. Being a Saturday they were not even able to pay their fine.

They feel that they were summoned wrongly. If the parking fee starts at 8am, then MBI must have booths selling coupons from that time. MBI cannot expect tourists from outstation to carry coupons in their cars. Leech Street is famous for food and MBI must station their staff there to sell coupons. Ipoh is a food haven and MBI must not frustrate the tourists. Tourists start their day early.

Even on weekdays, shops selling coupons are not opened early. I found that many tourists have been unjustly summoned. They feel it is a ploy by MBI to increase income. MBI should have their own booths in areas popular with tourists or consider re-introducing parking meters in tourist spots.

I feel MBI must refund the money for wrongly summoning innocent victims due to their inadequate system of selling coupons. MBI must come up with a solution for this.

A. Jeyaraj

Perak – A Traveller’s Review


After having spent time in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, my mother and I decided to visit our friends in Ipoh. It was in mid-August of this year. My mother had been to Malaysia before but it was the first time for me. Upon arrival at the Medan Gopeng bus station, we were confronted with the first problem. Even though we had the address of our friend, none of the taxi drivers knew how to get there. Luckily, an English-speaking lady was kind enough to help us out.

We explored Ipoh the following day. The tourist information office gave us a small photocopied map, which obviously wasn’t good enough. Upon inquiry, a regular map was given to us. Later we found out about the Ipoh Heritage Trail. Why didn’t the tourist office inform us about this?

My mother remembered Cameron Highlands, she wanted to revisit it. Sadly, a large part of the once beautiful hill resort has been transformed into huge strawberry plantations covered with white plastic sheets. Nonetheless, we managed to catch a glimpse of some wonderful, not yet destroyed, tea plantations.

Relaxing at the beach and enjoying the sun is popular among European tourists and we were no exception. Pangkor certainly provided the aforementioned and we enjoyed being the only ones on the beach – something you cannot find in Europe. Unfortunately, many advertised tourist attractions weren’t maintained. A trail in Telok Nipah led us into the jungle and became impassable after just a hundred metres. The Jambatan Gantung was closed for maintenance although no maintenance was apparent.

The buses were reliable and comfortable but we never envisaged that getting back to Ipoh was problematic. The staff at the bus counters in Lumut was either absent or asleep. None could speak English. Very surprising as Lumut is a tourist destination. We ended up riding the local bus instead.

Our friends in Ipoh went out of their way to show us everything that Perak has to offer, including Gua Tempurung, mangrove forests, temples and the Gopeng Heritage House. We would have missed many of these sights had we travelled on our own. The local tour agencies sure missed a golden opportunity.

Notwithstanding the hiccups, we had a wonderful time in Perak – a region with a bountiful potential.

Manuel Duenas
Stuttgart, Germany

“Baby Hatch for all Hospitals”


We refer to the Ipoh Echo Issue 149 dated August 16-31, 2012.

As stated in the article “Two have been sent to the state welfare department while the remaining four are still undergoing treatment at the hospital due to health complications.”

Amendments are as follows:

All 6 babies were surrendered to the State Welfare Department, most of them within 2-3 days after they arrived at our Baby Hatch. All the babies were healthy except for the first baby who required a minor neurosurgical operation. Four babies have since been adopted by childless couples as arranged by the State Welfare Department.

Dato’ Dr Hj Fadzli Cheah Abdullah
Medical Director
Ipoh Specialist Hospital

UMNO-NOMICS: The Dark Side of the Budget by Teh Chi-Chang


Book Review

Teh Chi-Chang, book review by Sandra RajooWhat do we know about government spending? What are ‘contingent liabilities’? Are wastage, corruption and mismanagement eating up our financial resources? Ultimately, does the Budget provide for a good quality of life – a high standard of living at a reasonable cost – for all Malaysians? These are but a few of the pertinent and fundamental issues underlying the Budget which need explaining. UMNO-NOMICS  is a book that strips the federal Budget down to the nitty-gritty, presenting its stark reality minus the mind-boggling jargon and embellishments.

Author Teh Chi-Chang writes unequivocally and judiciously, giving us hard facts which are backed by research and analysis. Adding large doses of biting satire and wit is cartoonist Johnny Ong who breaks down the multifarious topics into rib-tickling illustrations. His succinct cartoons wickedly depict the unsavoury implications of uncontrolled spending and the repercussions of damaging policies.

Inevitably, comparisons of Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat fiscal and economic policies and practices are made. Whose are prudent and more inclusive and whose are reckless and benefit a select few? Teh’s objective is to keep us up to date with the current situation, hence empower us to make informed choices.

Chief Executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Wan Saiful Wan Jan, in his foreword, says concisely, “Pakatan supporters must read this book so that they have more cogent arguments for their allegiance beyond ‘because Umno is wrong’. And those who support Umno or BN must read it to understand why the other side is so upset with them.”

Teh’s engaging writing style ‘speaks’ to the reader. Direct and explicit, he articulates the many complex issues coherently. Together with Johnny’s clever cartoons, an otherwise difficult subject is made easily digestible and comprehensible. An easy and enjoyable read best sums up this insightful book.

Ipoh-born Teh Chi-Chang holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation and degrees from the Universities of Warwick and Cambridge. He is currently the Executive Director of independent think-tank REFSA (Research for Social Advancement). He had spent 16 years in the corporate sector, including as a director of investment research and has headed Malaysia country-research teams. UMNO-NOMICS is the sequel to his 2009 best-seller The Budget: How the Government is Spending OUR Money. UMNO-NOMICS sells at RM35, inclusive of delivery, and is available at, or email: to place your order. You can also purchase the book for RM29.50 at Rashi Mini Market (newsagent), No. 37 Jalan Perajurit, Ipoh Garden East, Ipoh.