Imagine using a pedestrian crossing along a busy road and coming up to a wall of railings. A nifty quick step to look for a gap and squeeze between the railings to get on to the pavement is needed before the impatient traffic zooms by. And judging by the width of the gaps, it’s a feat only managed by the anorexic.
This is the situation at the Jalan Hospital-Fair Park traffic-light junction beside the mosque. The question to be asked is this: are these railings more of a hindrance than help for pedestrians? It also shows that the pavements and crossings in the city are not pedestrian friendly.
Ipoh City Council needs to explain how this could have happened without any of its officials taking note of the situation, or have they chosen to ignore it? Where is the commonsense that there should be an opening at both ends of a pedestrians’ crossing?
The city council is currently erecting railings in various parts of the city in an effort to beautify the city and for the safety of pedestrians. These particular railings (see pic) need to be modified for the safety of those using the pedestrians’ crossing.
When Visit Perak Year was announced by State tourism chairman, Dato’ Hamidah Othman and reported in the July 16 issue of Ipoh Echo, she said that locals must think Tourism and do Tourism. “Visit Perak Year 2012 will involve the whole state,” stressed Hamidah. “We need to create awareness throughout the state and have the local residents as well as local councils to participate.” So Ipoh Echo set out to investigate exactly what plans have been made by Ipoh city Council in anticipation of VPY 2012.
Mayor Serious about Visit Perak Year 2012
At the last full Board Meeting of Ipoh City Council on August 26, Ipoh Mayor Datuk Roshidi Hashim stated it was serious about getting ready for Visit Perak year 2012. In this regard, he recently returned from a visit to Xiamen, Fujian and Shenyang China as part of a Ministry of Tourism’s “Sales Mission to China” delegation led by Tourism Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. One of the products that Roshidi promoted about Ipoh was its food as part of Tourism Malaysia’s “Fabulous Food 1 Malaysia” programme.
Roshidi also announced that the Tourism Ministry had provided Ipoh City Council a sum of RM3.8 million to upgrade its tourism related facilities around town though most of it was focused around Old Town specifically along the heritage trail as per Map 1.
Railway Station Park
The park at the Railway Station which is the start of the Heritage Trail has been proposed to be given a facelift by re-landscaping the garden area. The existing water fountain at the garden, which hasn’t been working for a long time, will be upgraded. It was proposed that it be replaced with a musical fountain, but the decision is still pending.
The garden where the Birch Memorial is located has been proposed to be extended to the Old Post Office Building currently being repaired by Jabatan Warisan Negara. The food stalls collectively named “Medan Selera Dato Sagor” will be relocated to the area closer to the elevated car park. The elevated car park, which was the “First Elevated Car Park” in the country” will not be touched.
When the Old Post Office upgrade is completed together with the extended Birch Memorial garden, the road stretching from the Railway Station and Town Hall right down to the steps of Sheik Adam Lane after the Birch Memorial, will be an interesting gallery of history.
Panglima (Concubine) Lane
The plan for Concubine Lane was to upgrade the lane with granite cobblestones and install decorative lighting along the lane. Work was scheduled to start this month but due to the collapse of two shop lots in the lane earlier this month, work has been postponed pending a safety study by JKR.
Heritage Trail Upgrade
The sidewalk of the Heritage Trail has been proposed for an upgrade to “imprint tiles”. This will be for the entire length per Heritage Trail Map 1. The sidewalk tiles will have a Heritage Trail logo imprinted at regular intervals. Each Heritage building along the trail will have its own plaque describing its history similar to the Heritage Map. The purpose for these upgrades is to enable visitors to walk the trail without the map.
Medan Kidd Upgrade
The MBI food stalls located at Medan Kidd will be upgraded. Currently the stalls offer only food. The plan after the upgrade is to introduce a touristy environment with souvenir shops as well as food.
Relaxing Rules for Budget Hotels
Roshidi stated that City Council is considering relaxing the rules for budget hotels in Old Town specifically for the number of car parks required per budget hotel. Old Town is within walking distance of Ipoh Central Bus Station and the Railway Station. His rationale is based on visitors arriving by train and bus who don’t drive and therefore will not require a car park.
Roshidi also stated that an investor was committed to converting the 3 storey SPH De Silva Heritage Building, located in the centre of the Heritage Trail, into a budget cum boutique hotel.
Upgrading Water Fountains
Ipoh City Council will be upgrading three water fountains. One will be a musical fountain while two more will be upgraded with coloured lights. The fountains identified are at the Railway Station garden, Dataran MBI and Jalan Sultan Yussuf circus beside the Menteri Besar’s residence.
Hotels and Accommodation
Currently there are six 3- and 4-star hotels in Ipoh while there are 71 under 3-star hotels with a total room capacity of 2,591 rooms. Before the end of this year three more 3- and 4-star hotels will begin operations. These include MH Hotel along Tasek Road and Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Suites among the three.
Upgrades for Roundabouts
The roundabouts at Anderson Road, Silibin, Kampar Road (next to MGS School) and at Jalan Raja DiHilir have been identified for upgrading.
Entry Point Upgrades
The entry points into Ipoh at Simpang Pulai, Kuala Kangsar Road (next to Wing Onn Garden) and at Lahat-Lumut Highway have been identified for upgrading with a suggestion from the Menteri Besar that the first visual be a pleasant one.
Tourism also involves a clean and healthy environment. City Hall has identified 1,500 eateries in Ipoh. Clean eateries that meet MBI’s cleanliness standards are issued a Grade A certificate. Since the start of the grading exercise over a year ago, close to 10% of eateries have obtained the A certification. City Hall does not issue Grade B and C certificates.
City Hall is currently planning to outsource its drain cleaning services.
If all the above initiatives are taken by City Council and conscientiously carried out, hopefully the rest of the stake holders and industry players will join in and are gearing up for VPY 2012. And may Perak achieve the ambitious target for three million tourist arrivals under its Visit Perak Year 2012. That should bring in much appreciated revenue to the State.
The 12th Perak MATTA Fair held recently at the Perak Girls School recorded over 20,000 visitors and took in sales valued at over RM10 million.
Perak MATTA Chairman, Mr Ranjit said the popular destinations targeted were Korea, China and Hong Kong.
This year also saw interest in cruise destinations such the Caribbean and Mediterranean.
The Fair this year was opened by Encik Syahruddin Abdul Hamid, the Director of Ministry of Tourism, Perak. In his speech Syahruddin acknowledged that travel fairs were an “important one stop platform to gather players and customers together.” He also reminded the players “to help sell the state by promoting domestic tourism”.
Over 60 booths were taken up for this Fair of which 8 were for promoting domestic tourism. Managing Director of ZUK Travel & Tours, Mohammad Zukni, Yusuf who was promoting domestic tourism, said the response at this fair “was marginally better than the last fair held earlier this year. It will get better but will need a lot of promotion.” This was Zukni’s second time participating in Perak’s MATTA Fair.
Some four thousand students and parents participated in the Kalvi Yathirai 2011 (or Education Pilgrimage) organised by Sri Murugan Centre (SMC) in Sri Subramaniyar Temple, Gunung Cheroh. The function was held simultaneously in eleven centres throughout the country.
SMC Perak Co-ordinator, K. Nachemuthu explained that Yathirai brings parents and children together for education at a religious place. This has been an annual event since 1995. Prayers are conducted for students sitting for their UPSR, PMR, SPM and STPM to get good results. SMC gives students intensive coaching.
Nachemuthu made a request to Perak MB, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr. Zambry Bin Abd. Kadir who was the Guest of Honour, that the State Government, who only give scholarships to students studying in Middle East countries, also give scholarships to students studying in Indonesia, Russia and other regional countries as well.
Zambry presented a mock land title for the 0.53 hectare of land behind the temple which has been given to SMC to put up their multi-purpose building. The MB had good news for the organisers and informed that the State Government would pay for the expenses of the event costing RM20,000.
Certificates were given to students who were offered places in public universities for 2011.
Kumpulan Selendang Perak had a photo shoot for Hari Raya outside the entrance of the State Secretariat recently. Dressed in their Baju Raya, they spontaneously brought out the mood of the moment in anticipation of the Hari Raya celebration.
For those who are not familiar with Kumpulan Selendang Perak or more commonly referred to as KSP by the government staff, this is the dance troupe that always performs the traditional dances so gracefully at official government functions.
According to their Chief of Music, Abdul Razak Hamid, the troupe was formed in 1985 during the time of Menteri Besar then Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib before the installation of Sultan Azlan Shah with the purpose of promoting Perak culture and dance.
The troupe, consisting of 25 members government employees, practice daily at their office located within the State Secretariat.
Ipoh Echo’s eye health series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr. S.S. Gill talking to us about Cataracts.
Cataracts may cause a variety of symptoms. Blurry vision at any distance is the most common symptom of cataracts. Your vision may look foggy, filmy, or cloudy. Over time, as the lenses become more opaque or mature, less light reaches the retina. People with cataracts may have an especially hard time seeing at night making it difficult when driving. The lights from oncoming cars may scatter and cause glare.
A common complaint among housewives is that colours seem washed-out and dull. One patient who recently had her cataracts removed, actually asked her brother whether he had repainted his car white because she thought that his car colour was brown in the past! A maturing cataract makes it difficult to especially distinguish blue colours.
“Second-Sight of Aging”
There is a phenomenon called “second sight of aging” in which paradoxically a person’s reading vision suddenly improves as a result of their increased nearsightedness from swelling of the cataract. You may sometimes hear people actually boasting that they do not need reading glasses anymore to read their daily newspapers. Often this so called improved vision for nearsightedness is usually short-lived. It actually is a symptom of a maturing cataract.
Frequent Change of Spectacles
If you find that you have been needing to change prescription spectacles every few months, this too may be a symptom of cataracts. Essentially, the spectacle powers or contact lens powers will have to be increased in order to get acceptable vision to the patient.
The Unnoticed Blurring Vision
There are some patients who do not notice their blurring vision because the cataract is more mature in only one eye. This is because the other eye compensates for the vision requirement for their daily activity. The blurring vision is only noticed when they check the vision of each eye separately, only to be surprised that vision in one eye (with cataract) is so poor! Rarely do cataracts cause double vision (also known as diplopia). As the cataract becomes more mature, the double vision may go away.
Cataracts usually progress gradually and are not painful. They only become painful when they are extremely advanced or mature resulting in a condition called glaucoma where the eye pressure increases. Therefore it is important not to wait for the cataract to be too mature before seeking eye treatment. Rapid or painful changes in vision are suspicious of other eye diseases and should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist. Take note of any unusual eye symptoms and get your eyes checked annually if you are above 40 yeas of age.
Dr. Gill will discuss more on cataracts in the next issue.
For more information, contact Gill Eye Specialist Centre at 05-5455582, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.fatimah.com.my.
The Perak Government is looking into steps to increase the state’s revenue “without burdening the rakyat.” Newly-appointed State Financial Officer (Safino), Dato’ Mohd Ghazali Jalal, who replaced Dato’ Jamaluddin Al Amin, has been tasked to look into it. Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Zambry Abd Kadir, stated this after meeting Dato’ Mohd Ghazali in his office recently.
“There are other means of collecting revenue without burdening the rakyat,” he told reporters. “I’ve directed Ghazali to explore ways to strengthen the state finances and to maintain the treasury’s status as the best managed department in the state,” he added. The department was given a four-star rating by federal auditors two years in a row – 2009 and 2010.
Ghazali responded by saying that his predecessor, Jamaluddin has set a high standard for him to emulate. Thus, maintaining the status quo will be his priority. One possible way of increasing state revenue, he said, is by taxing TNB for use of state land for its high-tension towers and water to run its hydro-powered turbines at dams within the state. Ghazali is mulling over efforts to elicit payments from stamp duties which currently are paid directly to Putrajaya. “These are some of the ways to get extra income without taxing the rakyat,” he exclaimed.
Mohd Ghazali has a degree in microbiology from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. He joined the civil service in 1981 starting as an Administrative Officer at Universiti Pertanian Malaysia. His last post before taking on the appointment of Safino is as District Officer of Kuala Kangsar District.
It is very obvious that preserving the buildings in the old city centre is one of the most sensitive issues in Ipoh today. Each time Ipoh Echo highlights it, there are vociferous comments from local residents as well as from Malaysians living abroad. The general consensus among them is to preserve the old buildings. They share the view that simply demanding for the old buildings in the city to be preserved as heritage will not be enough; a plan must be put in place to induce their owners to preserve the buildings.
Expecting building owners to spend large sums of money to repair without any hope of recouping their expenditures will not work. Not only does the old city centre need sprucing up, but it should be rejuvenated to promote economic activities by providing various incentives to the building owners.
Lack of such incentives have caused some owners to hang on to their dilapidated buildings in the hope that there would be an opportune time to repair them. This has resulted in the buildings becoming “eyesores” and some collapsing like those in Panglima Lane – along the city’s heritage trail, last week.
In view of the enthusiasm on preservation shown by the readers, I am reproducing some excerpts from their comments and suggestions, which were posted on our website.
According to a regular reader Steven Lee, Ipoh City Council needs to have a “focus plan” on how to develop the city and not to continue growing haphazardly. He said new developments in Ipoh don’t create new businesses but cannibalize from other parts of the city. “This creates a scenario where new developments are busy but old parts of Ipoh are slowly dying off. Yet MBI (city council) has not come up with plans to rejuvenate these parts of the city,” said Lee.
Lee added that asking building owners to spend a lot of money to repair/renovate their buildings with the uncertainty of recouping their costs will not work. The city council must provide more concrete plans on what is needed to be done in the area, as well as providing incentives such as grants, and waiver of assessment fees and quit rent.
Another reader Papan Jones thanked Ipoh Echo for igniting the fuse to such a provocative subject. “The comments thus far support the concerns for regaining the glories of Ipoh,” he said. According to him, there is no lack of love for the city, only the lack of political will and cohesive action to make Ipoh the unique city that tin built, a living testimony of the country’s wealth and modern development.
“Congratulations Ipoh Echo,” said Mohd. Hassan. “Your story appears to be a ‘wake-up’ call for the Ipoh City Council to take a serious look at the old city centre. It has drawn the personal attention of Datuk Bandar. However, instead of looking at it as feedback, Dato’ Roshidi claimed it as giving a negative perception of Ipoh City Council. Let us hope the special committee formed can come up with a master plan to deal with the ‘lingering problems’ in the old city centre.”
A former resident Ken Chan said: “I strongly feel that our beloved hometown still has its innate charm intact even though the general condition of the city has degenerated substantially over the years. Instead of indulging in finger-pointing and be conveniently carried away by the blame game, the political bigwigs in the city should take the initiative to establish a special commission to draw a master plan for Ipoh’s future growth and development into the next century.”
“It takes someone with leadership, foresight and a deep sense of commitment to start the ball rolling and the plan should be fine-tuned when there is a need to do so,” added Ken.
“Heritage is important. Tourists are important as they put money in the coffers. When all the old buildings are demolished and brand new monsters replace them, no one is going to visit Ipoh when it looks just like any other town. Buildings need to be maintained and not left to rot,” according to Ruth Iversen Rollitt, daughter of a well-known local architect.
Quoting Superyusrie, “Heritage preservation issues should be dealt with on a case by case basis. Assuming that each and every building in the city has heritage value and needs to be saved by the authorities and not by the owners themselves is terribly flawed and such an irresponsible attitude! If you value your old properties so much, why not stay back and take care of them yourselves instead of burdening others unnecessarily with the responsibilities, heritage or not!”
The above responses and many others from the readers are very heartening to me as it uplifted my enthusiasm to call for more efforts to induce economic development in the old city centre.
The old city centre must be given a new lease on life if we hope to successfully preserve the old heritage buildings. Can the Ipoh City Council do something about it?
Chairman of Yayasan Bina Upaya (YBU), Dato’ Saarani Mohamad was the first to sign the visitors’ book at the opening of the YBU’s volunteers’ headquarters building recently. The ceremony was held simultaneously with the breaking of fast with media representatives and staff of YBU. Over a hundred attended the function which was held at a government bungalow next to the Senior Police Officers’ Mess along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Ipoh. Present at the function was Dato’ Zainal Abidin Omar, Chief Executive Officer of YBU and the Adun for Malim Nawar, Keshvinder Singh.