Tag Archives: ipoh echo issue 142

We Need Cabbies, Not Ambassadors


By Mariam Mokhtar

ipoh echo issue 142, Mariam Mokhtar, thinking allowed, ipoh's taxisNot all of us own a car or motor-bike, and as Ipoh’s public transport system is abysmal, many of us have little choice but to use taxis. Some depend on taxi-drivers to ferry them around whilst others swear that they will never set foot in one again. What do Ipohites generally think of their taxi-drivers? Is the service efficient, the charges reasonable and the cabbies’ attitude bearable?

It was reported by Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen last March that around 4,000 taxi-drivers in the Klang Valley would become “tourism ambassadors”. She would corroborate with taxi associations, and choose non-smoking taxi-drivers with adequate communication skills, whose vehicles were clean and in good condition.

She said, “Taxi drivers, as the front line staff (front liner), often interact directly with the tourists, must provide correct information and keep the country’s image. This is very important due to an increase in tourist arrivals.”

Her ministry had received numerous complaints from the general public and tourists, mainly about the drivers’ attitude and the taxi-meters.

A few months earlier, in September 2011, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Nazri Aziz said that his government would tackle corruption by working with the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and engage taxi-drivers to be their “spies”. Taxi-drivers would be rewarded for information which could help secure arrests and convictions.

Nazri said, “The involvement of people from all walks of life is important in fighting corruption…Taxi drivers are those who frequently interact with the public, they can get a lot of information from their passengers.”

He told taxi-drivers who suspected their passengers of wrongdoing to “immediately take the passengers to any MACC office and lodge a report”.

In April, the Information, Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim also urged taxi-drivers to “act as the government’s ambassadors.”

Rais told taxi-drivers to spread government propaganda and spread the ‘1Malaysia’ concept to passengers who were especially “critical and accused the government of all sorts”. He reminded them that the government had “safeguarded their welfare”, and given them aid so they should be “grateful for the government’s mindfulness”.

The government ministers however, failed to mention the customers and their expectations. Few of us claim to be satisfied with the service given by taxi-drivers, be it in Ipoh, Perak or Malaysia.

One Malaysian who returned to Ipoh from Australia said, “When I landed at KLIA I took the bus to Ipoh. The coach was clean, the driving good and my baggage was well taken care of. On arrival at Medan Gopeng, I had to haggle with the taxi-drivers. Was there a conspiracy amongst them? No one wanted to use the meter. When I suggested a price, the other drivers would egg the driver to charge more.”

“I know how much the fare should be. It was obvious from my luggage tags that I had returned from overseas. I ended up paying an inflated price which was a few ringgit short of the whole bus trip from KLIA.”

“The boot had no lock and the lid wouldn’t close. My suitcases were at risk of falling out. When I protested, the driver assured me that he would drive slowly, and look into his back mirror, every so often, to see if my luggage had fallen out.”

Another taxi-user said, “In many countries, taxi-drivers use the meter. In Ipoh, you are at the mercy of the taxi-driver. The drivers get angry when you ask to use the meter. The more arrogant ones tell you off. Either walk or get into their taxi.

“What happened to monitoring and enforcement? What are the authorities doing about improving the services of taxis?”

An elderly lady from Taman Meru said that since her husband died, she has had to rely on taxis to ferry her to the clinic for her monthly check-up and medication. “I am lucky because my neighbour’s friend, a taxi-driver, provides me with a regular service. Prior to that, all the taxi-drivers refused to take my wheelchair in the boot.”

Tourists, too, are at the mercy of Ipoh’s taxis. One Swiss girl said, “The lack of meters is nothing compared with the knowledge that your safety is compromised. Ipoh taxis are poorly maintained bone-shakers. Seat-belts rarely function. When I told the taxi-driver, he said to drape the belt over my shoulder so that the police would not fine me. Trying to pretend I am strapped in, is the least of my problems!”

Her companion echoed her sentiments and said, “Taxis here are heavily perfumed. If it’s not the crazy driving, whizzing round corners, and sudden braking, then the sweet sickly scent is enough to make you throw up. Perhaps, the car-freshener is to mask the vomit of previous passengers.”

“Your olfactory nerves aren’t the only ones affected. Taxi-drivers here must play loud music from a radio station that is completely alien.”

With Visit Perak Year 2012, the authorities should look into the taxi problem. Ipohites only want safe driving from taxi-drivers who take good care of their vehicles and whose aim is not to fleece the public.

Perakians are not concerned whether taxi-drivers make good tourism ambassadors or spies for the MACC. All they want is good, efficient service and an enforcement body that regulates and monitors the taxis efficiently.

First Aid & Home Nursing Competition


ipoh echo issue 142, St John Ambulance (SJAM) Perak Branch Junior Competition17 teams took part in the Annual Perak First-Aid and Home-nursing and 16 teams took part in the St John Ambulance Junior Competition organised by St John Ambulance Malaysia (SJAM), Perak branch. In the Ambulance section SMJK Hua Lian, Taiping emerged as overall champion while SMJK Ave Maria Convent, Ipoh was winner in the Ambulance Nursing section. In the Ambulance Junior section SJK (C) Pei Yuen Kampar emerged as overall whereby nursing section SJK (C) Ave Maria Convent, Ipoh was the overall champion. About 250 members and officers from the North, Central and South Area took part in the Competition. Organising Chairman Dr Micheal Cheong said the teams were tested on their skill in providing First-Aid and Home-nursing. They were also tested on foot drills by Army personnel. The overall champion will go to the National competition in the month of May 2012. Among the judges were doctors from Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh, private medical practitioners and nurses from nurse college Ulu Kinta Ipoh. Deputy Commander SJAM Perak Dr Harbaksh Singh gave away the prizes. Among those present were Dr Liaw Kok Toon Senior Principal Assistant Director Perak State Health Department, Manin Singh SJAM Perak Hon. State Secretary, Ang Lye Hong Area Commander Taiping, Teoh Ewe Hun Area Commander Central, Tan Beng Lee Deputy Commander Teluk Intan Dr Javinder Singh  Eye Specialist Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh and Mohd Rawi Secretarial Barisan Nasional Ipoh.

Hospital Fatimah’s New Purchase


ipoh echo issue 142, Hospital Fatimah Oncology CentreHospital Fatimah Oncology Centre will become a reality by year’s end. It will occupy two floors of the new 8-storey wing presently under construction within the hospital’s premises. The centre will comprise of radiotherapy and brachytherapy bunkers and a dayroom for outpatient-based chemotherapy. On Friday, April 13 a signing ceremony, witnessed by the hospital top executives, was underway to initiate this momentous endeavour. The signatories who signed on the dotted lines were Brother Ambrose Heng, Chairman of the Board of Directors Hospital Fatimah and Wong Huat Beng, CEO of Abex Medical System Sdn Bhd, the supplier of the soon-to-be-acquired radiotherapy machine. Ipohites can now look forward to the latest in cancer treatment at an affordable price, courtesy of a benevolent private hospital in the city.


Eye Health – Glaucoma (Part 6)

Dr S S Gill, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S S Gill, Consultant Ophthalmologist

In conjunction with World Glaucoma Awareness Week, Ipoh Echo talks to Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. Gill about this “silent thief of sight” – PART 6

Glaucoma as you know has been nicknamed the “silent thief of sight”. This disease results in permanent irreversible blindness in the affected eye(s) that often goes without symptoms until the loss of vision is significant or the patient is blind. Early diagnosis means early treatment and therefore prevention of major loss of vision. Diagnosing glaucoma may require elaborate testing to be done by the eye doctor.

The following are basically the tests that are done before making a diagnosis of glaucoma:

Examination of:                                                                     Name of  Eye Test:
Eye Pressure                                                                           Tonometry
Angle of the eye where the aqueous (eye fluid) drains                  Gonioscopy
Optic Nerve check                                                                    Ophthalmoscopy (dilated eye exam)
Field of Vision                                                                          Perimetry
Thickness of the Optic Nerve Fibre Layer                                    Ocular Coherence Tomography Scan

Test numbers 1, 2, and 3 were already discussed in the previous issue (141) of the Ipoh Echo.

4. Visual Fields

Visual field test (perimetry)

Glaucoma-Visual Field Testing (Perimetry) - Dr S.S. GillA visual field test (perimetry) checks for the “missing areas” of vision. This is done using a machine called Perimeter (photo on the left)

You will be shown a sequence of lights that appear in the periphery of a dome. Should you be able to see the lights appearing on and off within the dome of the machine, you will then be asked to click on a button.

If you cannot see the spots in your peripheral vision, it may indicate that the glaucoma has damaged your vision.

5. Ocular Coherence Tomography (O.C.T.) Scan

Glaucoma-Visual Field Testing (Perimetry) - Dr S.S. GillThe O.C.T. Scan is a newer and accurate way of determining whether or not a person has glaucoma. In glaucoma the retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) gets thinned-out resulting in loss of vision peripherally (tunnel-vision).

The O.C.T. Scan is able to measure this thickness of the retinal nerve fibre layer (that gets thinned out in glaucoma) thereby accurately confirming diagnosis.

In a confirmed glaucoma patient, by serially checking the RNFL, it can detect whether the glaucoma is worsening or not. This test has made glaucoma evaluation much simpler and more reliable. The downside is that the test may not be available in every eye clinic.

For more information, contact Gill Eye Specialist Centre at  05-5455582, email: gilleyecentre@dr.com or visit: www.fatimah.com.my.

A Second Lease of Life


An elderly couple nearly lost their lives during the recent floods in Kuala Dipang, Kampar the result of an unusually heavy downpour which caused the nearby Sungai Dipang to overflow its banks. Osman Ibrahim and his wife Azmah Embok, both in their 90s, escaped in the nick of time before flood waters enveloped their house.

The sight of their humble dwelling being swept away by the swirling current was too much for the frail lady. In between sobs she recalled the chilling tragedy. “It happened so fast. I saw the surge and suddenly my house was swept away. It broke into two pieces. My husband and I could only watch in disbelief,” she told Ipoh Echo. Her husband, traumatised by the incident, said little. Their village had been hit by floods before but was never on such a scale. The April 11 flood was the worse ever, said Azmah. Besides the grieving couple’s house, a number of other houses were similarly affected but could be recovered. Fortunately, no lives were lost. Hamidah Ishak, 53, recalled her eerie experience. “It was raining cats and dogs early in the morning. I heard sounds of gushing water. I peeked into the night and to my horror saw the whole village inundated.” She immediately alerted her neighbours and ran out of her house. Her neighbours followed suit. “We were lucky to be alive.” Hamidah’s car was damaged beyond repair.

Members of Yayasan Bina Upaya Darul Ridzuan’s (YBU) elite squad, upon hearing the news, rushed to the scene. They immediately set about saving the lives and properties of the villagers. They set up a relief centre and dispensed aid in the form of food parcels to the victims.

The following morning CEO Dato’ Zainal Abiddin Omar dropped by the village to survey the situation. “The condition of the ground is not yet suitable for recovery works to begin,” he said. “We’ll wait till the ground is dry before proceeding. However, it will take at least a couple of months to restore the village to its original status.”

Rosli Mansor

Confessions of a Drug Mule


ipoh echo issue 142, drug muleThe money may be good but it’s not worth the effort,” said Rosna Shariff, a former drug mule who had turned a new leaf. Rosna from Penang was caught smuggling 5kg of cocaine into Peru and received a 5-year prison sentence. She was released on good behaviour after serving half of the full term in a Peruvian jail. The Penangite fell for the promises of a rich picking by a sweet-talking Nigerian whom she met in Kuala Lumpur. Rosna was asked to send a bundle to a contact in Lima, the capital city of Peru. The prospect of an expense-paid holiday in faraway South America and the cash reward awaiting her, bowled her over. Unbeknown to Rosna, the bundle she carried contained cocaine, a banned drug in Peru.

“We must be wary of foreigners, especially Nigerians who come in and out of our country so freely,” she exclaimed. Rosna was addressing an audience of over 300 women at the auditorium of the State Secretariat Building, Ipoh recently. The occasion was an outreach programme for women jointly organised by the Department of Women Affairs Perak and the Perak Women for Women Society. The one-day forum was under the auspices of the office of Dato’ Hamidah Osman, Executive Councillor for Women Affairs. Hamidah, in her opening remarks, reminded the audience of Rosna’s fate and warned them of the perils that await those who act impetuously.

At the closing of the forum Hamidah presented a mock cheque for RM58,600 to Puan Halida Mohd Ali, Deputy President of Perak Women for Women Society. The money is for conducting similar programmes in major towns and districts in the state.

Most of the participants were appreciative of the efforts by the state government to enlighten them. “Rosna’s confessions are chilling indeed. I didn’t realise that such things could befall us so easily,” said Fatimah Fadzil, 53, to Ipoh Echo. “This programme is most beneficial for women,” she added.


Organic Farmer Gets Compensation


ipoh echo issue 142, lim garden floodSurin Kaur, an organic farmer who lost RM70,000 during the flood in Lim Garden was given a compensation of RM2,000 by the state government. S. Jayagopi, BN Co-ordinator handed the cheque to her.

Surin said that she had been in this business for about seven years in the same area. This is the first time her crops were devastated by flood. The chilli crop which was ready for harvesting was drowned by the flood waters. All her farm equipment was damaged; stocks of fertilisers and biopest repellent were washed away. Her nursery consisting of seedlings was spoilt.

The Agriculture Department said that it had no allocation to compensate her. She is discussing with FAMA which agreed to help her. Surin said that it would take her a few more months before she can resume normal cultivation.


MBI Lucky Draw Winners


ipoh echo issue 142, MBI lucky drawThirty very fortunate Ipohites became proud winners of prizes won at the special lucky draw for rate-payers who paid their assessment bills in full for 2012. The special draw, held at the council foyer recently, was officiated by mayor, Dato’ Roshidi Hashim. The two top prizes were a Honda Wave 125 and a Honda Icon motorcycle. “The top prize next year will be a Perodua MyVi,” said Roshidi to reporters. The council, said the mayor, had allotted RM30,000 for this special draw. “The strategy seems to work. Enticing rate-payers with attractive prizes in a lucky draw encourages them to pay their dues in full,” he remarked. The council has introduced a new award beginning this year. It is aimed at corporations who are the biggest rate-payers. Five corporations won the Golden Award for their promptness in payment. They include Lion Parade, Equity Nirvana, Uda Holdings, Impiana Hotel and Tasek Cement Corporation.


Haven Musical Extravaganza


ipoh echo issue 142, the haven, peter chan, Juwita SuwitoPeter Chan of Haven Lakeside Residences Tambun is never short of ideas when it comes to entertaining friends and clients. His idea of an endearing evening with his associates is a continental dinner with the accompaniment of music and songs within the cool ambience of his “real estate” – ‘Where else but the Haven’. The occasion was warranted, as Peter’s project is near completion. So on Saturday, April 14 a steady stream of dignitaries, consisting of the Who’s Who of Ipoh’s society, made their way to the Roof Top Garden of the Haven Show Gallery to do justice to Peter’s beckoning. It was well worth the attendance. Guests dined amidst the splendours of a green background with the trademark rock in full view from the terrace. Juwita Suwito’s rendition of her cover pieces brought back the bliss of the moody 1990s and early 2000s. The songs, the music and the food were simply incomparable. Peter, with one touch of the magic wand, you have transformed Tambun and this writer. Cheers.


Performance of Councillors to be Monitored


A “Know Your MBI Councillor” campaign has been initiated by some NGOs in Ipoh with the initial proposal for councillors to carry out self-appraisal through a questionnaire. The objectives of the campaign are to help ratepayers understand the roles and functions of city councillors.

ipoh echo issue 142, MBI councillors self-appraisalNone of the councillors responded and gave absurd reasons in the Chinese press for not doing so, one being they are not obliged to answer to the residents.

At a Press Conference recently, Cheng Heng Chung, spokesman for the group said that they will conduct a public survey in all 22 zones with a questionnaire with Yes/No answers for five simple questions. In each zone 50 residents will be interviewed. The survey will also be conducted through phone and email. It plans to complete the survey within one month ending on May 20. The responses will be compiled and made public.

For details please contact Ms Chan 013-5217234.