Tag Archives: ipoh echo issue 142

Mayor’s Concerns


By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

ipoh echo issue 142, Fathol Zaman Bukhari, editorialIt was one of those days when you least expect the inevitable to happen but it happens. I was invited along with other bureau chiefs to a briefing on town planning by the mayor at the city council main annexe recently. I thought it would start and end, like other briefings before this. It never occurred to me that this time around it would be different.

Seldom do meetings in Malaysia start or end at the appointed time. We were told to be seated in Dewan Azlan Shah on the 10th floor at 10.00 a.m. sharp (so said the faxed and text messages). After much waiting and fussing, the briefing eventually began when the mayor walked in at 10.30 a.m. No one complained. Malaysian time, mah!

I felt a soft tap on my shoulders. It was Shahrizal, the harried public relations officer to the mayor. He is a gem of a person, always tactful and respectful, notwithstanding the responsibilities he shoulders. “Boss, Rosli Dahamin is not coming can you say a few words on behalf of the media?” he asked. I was taken aback. Talking from the podium was the last thing on my mind but when push comes to shove, what choice do I have? I nodded in agreement. Being the most senior newsman, in age and stature, I was the obvious choice. Shahrizal ushered me to the main table and had me seated beside the mayor, Dato’ Roshidi Hashim.

The briefing was conducted by the Town Planning Division Chief, Encik  Zulqarnain Mohamad who has been with the council for over two decades. Zulqarnain has a very pleasant personality and is more appropriate for Shahrizal’s post rather than as the council’s planning chief. But that is not the issue.

The crux of the briefing centred on the development of the city, in conformity with Ipoh Structural Plan 2020, which is in the final stage of rectification. The Plan espouses an equitable spread in developing the 643 sq km city. Five sectors are recommended, namely Simpang Pulai, Station 18, Tambun, Meru Raya and Ampangan. This is to facilitate decentralisation and to avoid the pitfalls of Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Penang. All seemed good on paper but the lingering problem that will continue to dog Ipohites is the absence of a viable public transport system to service the designated areas. Zulqarnain gave a simplistic answer. “The Plan will be fully realised in 2020, so time is not an issue.” I guess none in the hall that day had an answer.

When the briefing was over I took the opportunity to ask the mayor a few pressing questions. One was on the clamping of cars whose owners had one compound too many. Clamping is on-going he said but the extent is limited due to time and space. He would prefer errant owners to own up rather than the council resorting to such measures. The other was traffic congestion in Greentown Business Centre, Kinta City and the city centre. There are ample parking spaces, he exclaimed. The fault lies with motorists who prefer to double and sometimes triple park for their own convenience. “It’s an attitude problem,” he said.  I could not agree more.

On the development of Old Town he had this to say, “Efforts to convince the property owners to spruce up their properties have been taken but there doesn’t seem to be any response. I am prepared to discuss terms if only they’re prepared to come to the table.” Strange, I thought, it was the other way around – the council refusing to give in to the demands of the owners. There is still room to resolve the problem, amicably.

It is no mean task to manage a city larger in size than (the original) Singapore Island. Ipoh’s population has breached the 720,000 mark and is growing. With a working staff of over 2,000, Roshidi’s responsibility to make the council tick like a well-oiled clock is daunting.

His term as mayor ends in June. “There is no indication yet of an extension,” he said. “I’ve bought a piece of land in Ampangan and plan to settle here for good,” enthused the Merbok-born civil servant. I empathise with this soft-spoken yet affable Kedahan.

Elite Squad to The Fore


Members of Yayasan Bina Semangat Darul Ridzuan’s (YBU) elite squad were first on the scene when they were alerted of natural disasters occurring in Lawin, Gerik, Manjoi, Kg. Baru Kuala Dipang and lately, Kampar. These areas were inundated by floodwaters caused by heavy downpour and the bursting of river banks. The tragedy in Kampar is still fresh in our minds as its effects were far reaching. A number of villagers in Jeram and Kampung Pisang in the District of Kampar had to be evacuated for their personal safety.

The YBU squad consisted of volunteers specially picked for their skills and fortitude. They can operate independently and are apt at dispensing aid to victims, both the physiological and psychological forms. Their timely arrival at the points of disaster made the difference between life and death.

Rosli Mansor

Help the flood victims either in kind or cash, call: 05-255 5945/5946 for details, or go direct to YBUDR at: Aras D-2-1, Greentown Square, Jalan Dato’ Seri Ahmad Said, 30450 Ipoh. All forms of aid will be channelled to the victims by the foundation, post haste. Readers’ kindness is much appreciated.

Residents and Police Dialogue


The Jalan Serindek Neighbourhood Watch Committee, Ipoh Garden recently held a dialogue with the Police on how best to co-operate and curb the recent increase of house break-ins, snatch thefts and petty thefts in their neighbourhood. The dialogue was well attended by over 40 residents while the police team was headed by Deputy OCPD of Ipoh District Superintendent Ahmad Tarmizi together with the Officer-in-charge of Sungai Senam Station Inspector Vised, and Sargeant Jaafar.

ipoh echo issue 142, Jalan Serindek Neighbourhood Watch CommitteeDuring the dialogue residents highlighted their concerns with a resident from Jalan Kakatua Madame Yip elaborating her ordeal of burglars breaking into her home while she was still inside.

Supt Tarmizi in his address to the residents acknowledged that crime in the area including Canning Garden, had increased a few months ago but was being kept under control. He also assured the residents that effective the next day he would double patrols in the area using uniformed and non-uniformed personnel.

Tarmizi commended the residents for organising the dialogue and requested them to play a role of being the eyes and ears for the police and to alert them of any suspicious individuals in their neighbourhood.

A subsequent follow-up with residents a week later revealed that police patrols had indeed doubled after the dialogue. While being pleased with the extra patrols, they nevertheless wondered if it would be permanent, with the fervent hope that it would be so.


The Bonding Of Lasallians


While generations of ex-Michaelians are looking forward to the centenary celebrations of St Michael’s on September 29,  there is an upcoming event involving other Lasallian schools in Perak, known as Brothers’ Schools namely St George’s, St Anthony’s and St Michael’s.

ipoh echo issue 142, Lasallian schools, st michael's institutionChan Kok Keong, Chairman of the Regional Lasallian Education Council, announced that Founders’ Day will be celebrated on May 19 at the La Salle Centre which is located within the grounds of St Michael’s.

The dinner will be an occasion for the Principals, Board of Governors, PTA, Alumni and other stakeholders to meet for the fellowship and strengthen the bonds within the Lasallian family.

When asked to expand on the role and significance of celebration Founder’s day, Chan recalled some critical dates in the history of the Lasallian Fraternity:

  • The first school was founded in France more than 350 years ago by John Baptist de La Salle;
  • The Brothers first landed in Singapore in 1852;
  • The last Brother Director, Brother Paul Ho, retired from St Xavier’s Institution on June 21, 2009. Ironically, this was the first of the Lasallian schools in Asia;
  • A new district the Lasallian East Asia District or LEAD was formed on May 15, 2011. The Sector Head for Malaysia is Brother Anthony Rogers.

Chan characterised the work and role of the Council as being the epicentre for dissemination of the Lasallian spirit in the schools and wherever there are Lasallians.

When asked what the mission of La Salle schools is today, he said, “Our Mission is an inter-faith multi-cultural vision based on faith, service and community. We aim to educate the young people, especially, the poor and the needy. Focusing on the last, the least and the lost.”

For further details call La Salle Centre at 605-2559 220.


ipoh echo issue 142, PAGE (Parent Action Group for Education) Ipoh Chapter, PPSMI

PPSMI: The Never Ending Quest


ipoh echo issue 142, PAGE (Parent Action Group for Education) Ipoh Chapter, PPSMIThe popular Andersonian Club here was a hive of activity when PAGE (Parent Action Group for Education) Ipoh Chapter organised a dialogue entitled “ PPSMI: The Never Ending Quest”. Hundreds of parents showed up to support the move that the PPSMI policy needs to be reviewed by the Ministry of Education.

Datin Noor Azimah, Chairman of PAGE Malaysia spoke on the topic.

Datin Azimah started by explaining the reason for the formation of PAGE Malaysia. Furthermore, she stressed that PAGE might be fighting a losing battle when it comes to PPSMI. However, with the support of the various non-government organisations and individuals the PPSMI issue is therefore a “ play it safe” right of the parents. She noted that the biggest challenge facing parents is the fact that many schools are resisting co-operating, and they do not adhere to the Education Ministry’s advice. Therefore she emphasized that the Education Ministry must look into these problems and ensure that there are proper mechanisms to ensure that PPSMI is on-going.

Mr Soong Kok Hong, Chairman of Malaysian Employers Federation Perak Branch, emphasized that English is an indispensable tool that will enable us to achieve our aspirations for the 21st century. Thus, fluency and knowledge in English will enable us to prevail against many of the challenges posed by the effects of globalisation. He stressed that English has the largest number of speakers in the world and, in addition, most books and other resources are written in English. All professionals such as human resource personnel, accountants, doctors, engineers and others must have a strong base in English to further their careers. He noted that many of our young candidates are unable to speak or write in English, causing them to lose out in the international market.

This dialogue also gave the opportunity to the moderator, Datuk Dr Anwar Hassan to propose appeals from PAGE Ipoh Chapter that include the following:

  1. To allow PPSMI option to be given to Standards 1 and 2 students and to set up PPSMI classes for positive responses by a minimum number of 30 students.
  2. Declare names of Primary and Secondary National Schools in Perak offering PPSMI – each PPD to make a public list of such schools as undertaken by PPD Petaling Utama, Selangor.
  3. Make readily available English texts for Science and Mathematics in ALL National Schools offering PPSMI.
  4. Designate a cluster of permanent PPSMI schools for boys and girls in each district of Perak.

Tok Batins Head for Sabah


A special seminar for tok batins (Orang Asli village heads) was officiated by Chief Minister Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir recently.  The one-day seminar, held at the Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Suites, was attended by some 100 tok batins from various parts of the state. The Orang Asli population in Perak presently stands at 54,515. They are located in 254 villages and each village is headed by a tok batin. The objective of the forum was to familiarise participants with the demographic makeover of Sabah ahead of their planned trip to the Land Beneath the Wind.

ipoh echo issue 142, Orang Asli village headsIt is hoped that the trip, which is fully sponsored by the state government, will inspire the tok batins to be role models in promoting the virtues of the Orang Aslis to Sabahans. Its other objective is to provide the participants an opportunity to expand their networking while interacting with their fellow citizens from across the South China Sea. The event was organised by Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli. This is the second time the Perak government has sponsored such a field trip. Last year the tok batins went to Sarawak. Orang Asli students who did well in last year’s SPM Examination received prizes from Zambry during the function.


Retinopathy a sign of Cognitive Decline

ipoh echo issue 140, Dr Lee Mun Wai, Lee Eye Centre, Stem Cells in Retinal Disease
Dr Lee Mun Wai

Eye Chat – From A Retinal Surgeon’s Perspective

The eye is often described as the “windows to our souls” and in the medical sense, they are indeed the “windows” through which  eye doctors can observe a lot of disease processes going on!

The retina is a particularly common place to look when there are other systemic diseases (like diabetes) as there is a wealth of information that can be obtained by looking at the blood vessels in the retina.

What is retinopathy?

ipoh echo issue 142, Retinopathy, Dr Lee Mun WaiRetinopathy refers to a group of conditions whereby the common feature would be dysfunction of the retinal blood vessels. In the case of diabetic retinopathy, the presence of excessive levels of sugar in the blood has an adverse effect on the retinal vessels causing them to be more “leaky’ and consequently, blood and proteins can leak out causing retinal swelling and reduced vision. There is also insufficient oxygenation of tissue and this results in abnormal “growth” of new blood vessels which are prone to bleeding.

Hypertension can also be associated with retinopathy – blood vessels harden with age and progressive narrowing of vessels and reduced oxygenation can lead to bleeding, swelling and strokes in the eye. Other conditions which may be associated with retinopathy include anaemia, leukaemia, lupus and radiation.

Retinopathy and cognitive decline

There has been a recent study which reported a possible link between the presence of retinopathy and worsening cognitive function in older women. This study looked at over 500 healthy older women (over 65 years of age) as part of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study and they used retinal photography to assess the eyes of these women, the Mini-Mental State Examination to assess cognitive function over time and also Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the brain to look for specific changes.

What they found was that the presence of retinopathy was associated with poorer scores on the mental state test as well as a greater volume of ischemic (oxygen-starved) areas in the brain.

What it means?

The findings of this study add to a growing body of evidence that diseases of blood vessels have a role in the decline of cognitive function in people. Retinopathy may therefore, be an early marker of small vessel disease in the brain and this could imply that screening the eyes for retinopathy could help detect early vessel disease in the brain and cognitive impairment (dementia). Conditions such as Alzheimer’s have far-reaching consequences and if detected early by means of eye screening, could be treated earlier with better outcomes.

But of course these are still early days and further research and studies will be required to evaluate the true relationship between retinopathy and cognitive function. Again another case of “watch this space”. But meanwhile, take care of the “window to your soul”…

For more information about this topic or other eye health subjects, please visit my blog at: www.lec.com.my/youcare-eyecare. Or call Lee Eye Centre: 05-254 0095.

‘God’s Little Acre’


They are called cemeteries or graveyards – places where dead people are buried, and they would be the most uncommon stop. Well, not for my friends and me. During the past weekend, we spent a good hour exploring one. We strolled freely at this well-kept ‘God’s Little Acre’, in Batu Gajah. I was told that this cemetery has been a part of the Anglican Holy Trinity Church since the mid 1880s.

It may not be like the latest memorial parks with beautiful landscapes, but it is well-worth a visit. Buried here are 116 planters, police officers, miners and civilians, killed in the Emergency (1948-1960). We also found the oldest grave dated 1886, soon after the town of Batu Gajah was created as the Administrative Centre of Kinta Valley.

In 1980, retired Superintendent of Police, Dato’ R. Thambipillay started the tradition of the annual commemorative ceremony. The ceremony is a solemn occasion. It is attended by foreign dignitaries representing the countries of those who gave their lives so that we could live. The ceremony takes place on the second Saturday of June. On this day, surviving old-timers return to honour their colleagues and friends.

As we strolled, we spotted the graves of some famous personalities of Perak like Alma Baker, Cecil Rae, Labrooy and other FMS servicemen. Here, too, lies planter Donald Baxter, the son-in-law of the Danish architect, B.M. Iversen. Baxter was killed in a salary heist in 1964 somewhere near Tanjung Tualang. His stone is one of a kind, a block of marble selected by his wife, Ruth and Iversen himself. It can be easily identified. (Source: Law Siak Hong, Perak Heritage Society.)

To get to the cemetery, drive under the archway facing the main building of the Batu Gajah Hospital, you will pass the Jail and the Anglican Church. Go straight to the end of the road. You can’t miss it. Cemeteries are our heritage so please visitors, be respectful when you are here in the place of the “unseen residents”.

The heritage charms and the rich stories locked in ‘God’s Little Acre’ could be turned into a tourism spot.

S. Sundralingam

ipoh echo issue 142, Ray of Hope Bercham, See Foon Chan-Koppen, musings on food

SeeFoon discovers a Ray of Hope in Bercham


By See Foon Chan-Koppen

ipoh echo issue 142, Ray of Hope Bercham, See Foon Chan-Koppen, musings on foodipoh echo issue 142, Ray of Hope Bercham, See Foon Chan-Koppen, musings on foodipoh echo issue 142, Ray of Hope Bercham, See Foon Chan-Koppen, musings on foodipoh echo issue 142, Ray of Hope Bercham, See Foon Chan-Koppen, musings on foodipoh echo issue 142, Ray of Hope Bercham, See Foon Chan-Koppen, musings on foodipoh echo issue 142, Ray of Hope Bercham, See Foon Chan-Koppen, musings on foodMost food outlets exist to serve food to those unwilling or unable to cook for themselves and hope to turn a profit in the process. Some special food outlets have a dual purpose: serving food as well as helping those who serve. The Ray of Hope Kafe is one of these food outlets that not only serve good food but in the process, do good as well.

The Ray of Hope is a non-profit, non religious multi-racial centre set up by St Peter’s and St Augustine’s churches, Ipoh. Its sole objective is to give hope to people with learning difficulties. The cafe was opened in July of last year in partnership with the Hong Leong Foundation. Its bakery which now produces a wide variety of breads and confectionery was set up by the Rotary Club of Ipoh in 2008 initially for vocational training and now it is turning into a commercial enterprise in the hope of raising much needed funds for the centre.

I went to the Ray of Hope (in the vicinity of Ipoh Kiara Condominium in Bercham) not having too many expectations for a gourmet lunch, given that the Kafe serves multiple purposes: teaching the learning disabled vocational skills; provide them with opportunities to interact with customers and developing social skills; teaching them service skills and hopefully to provide a source of funding for the centre.

Delightful Surprise

Well I was delightfully surprised. An interesting assortment of breads and confectionery arrested my attention and the staff were all standing around with big smiles on their faces. Dato’ Dr Yeoh Beng San, Advisor and Fundraising Chairman for the centre, and his wife Datin Mary Yeo, who is the dynamo behind the centre and the main mover and shaker for the cafe, greeted me with open arms and proceeded to show me around the training centre, the bakery and kitchen. Everything was immaculate and the toilets were the cleanest I’ve ever encountered – an almost impossible feat by Ipoh standards. I was also struck and touched by their motto which is emblazoned on the wall in the cafe and which says: “Every Life Counts, Every Person Matters”.

Extensive Menu

The menu is extensive. There are more than 20 different rice dishes and a similar number of noodle dishes not to mention spaghetti dishes and western dishes like chicken chops with a big choice of sauces and, fish and chips. The noodles run the gamut from egg noodles, to flat rice noodles to vermicelli to Japanese Udon to ‘lou shi fun’ (short stubby rice ‘pasta’).

I will mention the few items which I tasted and consider the ‘must-haves’. The Assam Laksa was a generous portion, the soup/broth had a fulsome body to it unlike some others I’ve had before which can be plain watery. I could taste the fish that had gone into making the broth as well as the various herbs and spices which are critical to its turning out successfully. Chunks of fish with pineapple and cucumber slivers, topped with a sprig of fresh mint, complemented the smooth white ‘lai fun’, enveloped in the broth – RM5.50.

I spied Nasi Lemak on the menu and being a big fan of this ubiquitous dish, promptly ordered it. I was glad I did. Served with Pandan/Coconut Rice, the Chicken Rendang that came with it was comparable to some of the best I’ve ever eaten anywhere in Malaysia and Singapore. Add to this the aromatic flavour of the pandan (screw pine leaves) and coconut in the rice, and the usual condiments of peanuts, egg and ikan bilis; and I found myself in foodie heaven – RM6.00.

I next tried their Cheese Baked Rice, a heaping bowl of rice with a mixture of seafood topped with a big slice of fish and oven baked with a generous helping of cheese. If ever there was a fusion dish of east and west, this is it; the cheese melted to a golden brown and slightly charred, the pan-fried fish underneath soft and flaky while still lower down, the rice with its garnitures, fluffy and full of flavour. This cheese baked rice comes also with chicken and instead of rice, with spaghetti – RM 12.50.

Star Bakery

But it is the bakery that shines as the star of the show in the cafe. I sampled their cookies, their different types of bread, their sweet and savoury buns, and particularly noteworthy are their Lemon Cheese Tarts. At RM0.70 for the bite-size and RM1.80 for the larger ones, they were melt-in-the-mouth delectable and I, a professed non-sweet eater found myself reaching for a second one. I made myself a mental note to order these for takeaways, for birthdays and other parties or as dessert petits fours with coffee at home after dinner; I also tried their Siew Pao, thin fluffy pastry with a tasty chicken meat filling. Helped by the students in filling and wrapping, these paos are made by one of the teachers at the centre and are her own recipe. Excellent – RM1.50.

Of Pasties and Biscotti

Two other bakery items of note are their curry puffs and their pasties. The huge pasty is laudable; the crust, a cross between a suet and short crust pastry, enfolding a filling of chicken and vegetables that was delectably flavourful. This is a meal in itself and is served with salad – RM7.00. The curry puff has the same pastry and filled with a curry filling that actually has meat in it instead of the usual potatoes and onions – RM1.50.

Other items from the bakery which make great party offerings are their boxed cookies and their biscotti, paper thin crisps encrusted with almond and pistachio slivers, an Italian favourite of mine that is great with coffee or just for nibbling. Biscotti: RM12.00

So for all my dear readers out there who read this column, remember that the next time you feel the urge for some confectionery, need to bring a gift to someone’s house, or organising a gathering, remember to place your order with the Ray of Hope Kafe and while there to pick up your goodies, linger awhile and try some of the items on their menu. Not only will you enjoy the taste treat but you’ll be helping a good and worthy cause.

Ray of Hope Kafe (Halal)
24 & 26 Persiaran Bercham Selatan
Taman Sri Kurau, Bercham
Tel: 05-5488796 Open Mon-Fri 9.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.
GPS: N 04 37 459   E101 07 455              Email: ray.of.hope.ngo@gmail.com

Flea Market Must Be Relocated


ipoh echo issue 142, Ipoh's flea marketI have been visiting the Sunday Flea Market from the time it was operating from the back lane behind Lam Looking Bazaar. The present location has become very congested and with three hotels operating on Horley Street, it is inconvenient for the guests. The location in the heart of the city centre is also causing traffic jams and parking problems for motorists.

There is a more suitable and convenient place from where this market can function. Medan Istana is deserted on Sundays. This is a very big rectangular area and cars can be parked along the roads on the perimeter. There are no busy roads nearby. Geographically the place is next to Jalan Lim Bo Seng, from where the present market is operating. A new road has been built from Jalan Lim Bo Seng to Medan Istana along the Kinta River.

Since this is a big area, MBI can be innovative and allocate dedicated areas to stalls, based on the products they sell. Stalls can be separated into those selling antiques and old items, shoes, clothes, trinkets and new items, fruits, food, etc. This would be convenient for shoppers and it would not be necessary for them to walk all over the place to look for what they want.

MBI must seriously consider this option and regular shoppers would support this move. It would also provide a better image to tourists and we can attract more local and international tourists. This is also one of the unique attractions of Ipoh.

A. Jeyaraj