Many words have been spoken, many plans have been drawn and laid out, many money making schemes by unscrupulous people have been planned and all of this is to be in conjunction with the Visit Perak Year of 2012 next year.
What I find most disturbing is that there has been nothing, absolutely nothing that has been written regarding our “proud” museum Darul Ridzuan in Ipoh. Those of you who are familiar with our so-called museum would know that it is located between the State Secretariat Building and the Police Patrol Car depot. To identify the museum just look out for a poor huge miserable turtle or tortoise lying out in the garden.
Now let us look at the museum itself, it is a double-storey mansion that used to belong to a Chinese towkay who sold it to the government. Then it was used as a government agency before being reverted into a museum a number of years ago.
The museum occupies a very large area that consists of an external exhibition shelter that holds an old timber truck, rusty mining equipment, a boat with splintered wood and a small plantation train. There are also two very rusty military vehicles, a Ferret Scout Car and a White Armoured Personnel Carrier, exposed to the elements with no shelter.
The moment you step into the museum the visitor is confronted by…emptiness. Now that is just the beginning, I have not told you about the pictures with no labels, the exhibits with no information and the total absence of any curator or assistant who will be able to explain anything in English to a foreign visitor. The second floor is a little better, the exhibits have been touched up to an extent, lighting is better and the exhibits are well labelled by Malaysian standards.
Whereas the walls at the ground floor are just bare brown carpets, up here is where many, many years ago an NGO called Ipohworld held the most successful exhibition in the museum ever organised by a visionary, Commander (R) Ian Anderson RN (Royal Navy), who had made Ipoh his home. In a matter of four weeks the Ipohworld exhibition surpassed the number of visitors that had ever visited the museum since its opening.
Now, back to my question, how is the museum showcasing the history of us Ipohites? Ipohworld showed us our grandparents, it even showed us when we were young, it presented to us the trades of our forefathers and how our ancestors moved, and how Ipoh was and is. Now dear reader isn’t that what history is all about? What does the current museum contain? Does it show us how it was? And what were the stories behind the exhibits? Does it depict the traders and their wares of yesteryears?
Now, what will the impression of a foreign guest be when he visits the museum? Never mind the museum toilet for now. I would like to suggest that if the State of this great land is not capable of guarding, conserving and preserving its history it will be better to either bulldoze down the museum and build a food court in place or let a private NGO like Ipohworld run it for the sake of Perak Darul Ridzuan.
Daniel Prakash James