Tag Archives: Ipoh Echo Issue 149

Perak’s Rafflesia on New Banknote


Rafflesia azlanii, malaysian 10 ringgitBank Negara Malaysia issued a new series of banknotes on July 16. Themed ‘Distinctively Malaysia’, the latest banknotes series draws its inspiration from the country’s diverse culture, heritage and nature.

Malaysia’s lush tropical jungle, which is one of the world’s oldest living rainforest, is home to a spectacular variety of flowering plants. Most iconic amongst them is the Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower.

The RM10 note features the Rafflesia azlanii. It is indigenous to Peninsular Malaysia and was first discovered in the Royal Belum Forest Reserve of the state of Perak in 2003. To commemorate its discovery, this majestic flower was named after the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Yusuff Izzuddin  Shah Ghafarullahu-Lah.

Liz Price

Workshops for NGOs


Institut Darul Ridzuan (IDR)Representatives from some 70 NGOs from all over Perak attended a workshop organised by Institut Darul Ridzuan (IDR) at St Mike’s Bistro and Restaurant, Ipoh recently.

This is the first of a series of workshops with the theme Live Out Loud. It consisted of two modules: Guide to Writing Effective Proposals and Report Writing.

The workshop is to cater to the needs of NGOs in the state, guiding them through the proper channels thus making them more effective and efficient. It is also to enhance the relationship between civil society organisations and the public sector.

Dato’ Mohd Zahir Abd Khalid, Executive Councillor for Education, Higher Learning and ICT, launched the workshop. In his opening remarks he said, “Those in government should engage, listen and receive feedback from NGOs. This is part and parcel of the democratic institution of our country.” He, therefore, acknowledged the fact that listening and responding to public demands is a prerequisite of good governance.

Chief Executive Officer of IDR, Dato’ Seri Abdul Rahman Hashim plans to conduct another workshop before the year is over. He too acknowledged the role and importance of NGOs.

Institut Darul Ridzuan currently acts as the Secretariat of Perak Amanjaya Council of Civil Society. This workshop was the first step in implementing an independent Council of Civil Society in the state.

The day-long workshop ended with a experience-sharing session among participants. Each received a certificate of attendance.


Visit by UK Girl Guides


Persatuan Pemulihan Sultan Azlan Shah in Bercham, Sensory Garden-cum-Play TherapyTwelve Girl Guides from London and South East Region in the United Kingdom, and their four group leaders, visited Persatuan Pemulihan Sultan Azlan Shah in Bercham for a week recently. The reason for their visit was to build a Sensory Garden-cum-Play Therapy to benefit children with disabilities at the rehabilitation centre.

This Girl Guides Project 2012, which took two years of discussion and preparation, required RM22,000. British Girl Guides (UK) donated RM7,000, BAIDURI Perak gave RM5,000 while the remaining RM10,000 was from Tan Sri Tan Foundation.

The purpose of setting up the sensory garden, a disabled-friendly garden, is to enable children with disabilities to undergo therapy in a garden environment. This helps with their sensory integration, incorporating various sensory needs, including touch, visual, sound and smell.

Presently some 280 such children are treated at the Bercham centre. They come with a range of disabilities like learning difficulties, mild autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), global development delay, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. The children will benefit greatly from the various sensory inputs, which will stimulate them.

This project by the Girl Guides from UK followed the successful project carried out by a 19-member 177th Scout Group, Scouting Ireland, in 2008, who were at the centre to help set up a Sound and Sensory Room. The room greatly benefits children with severe disabilities, especially infants with cerebral palsy and severe limb paralysis.

Ten local Girl Guides from SM Convent, Ipoh, chaperoned by State Commissioner, Foong Poh Lin, and four committee members, visited the UK Girl Guides at the centre one afternoon. The two groups of guides engaged themselves in games and various activities.

The rehab centre welcomes assistance from NGOs and those wanting to help, as the children need all the assistance they can get to make them mobile and independent.

Formation of Association for Retirees


As far as I know there is no organisation in Ipoh to look after the interests of private sector retirees. The government pensioners have their own body to fight for their rights. After retirement the pensioner enjoys most of the benefits he received while working. Most importantly pensioners and their dependents get free healthcare.

On the other hand as soon as a private sector employee stops working, his ties with his employer are severed. He has to live rest of his life on his EPF and savings. Studies have shown that EPF only lasts from three to five years.

The government has announced the special payment of RM500 for government pensioners as an appreciation to civil servants. All Malaysians, above 55 years, did contribute to the current well-being of the country and the government must take care of all of them – irrespective of whether they were former workers in the public sector or not. Raya gifts and other monies to take care of our ‘Warga Mas’ (Golden Citizens) must be for all.

The cost of private healthcare is exorbitant which only those earning high incomes can afford. Cost of medicines are increasing and many retirees are not able to pay healthcare insurance premium. The savings is not enough to keep up with the increased cost of living. Most of the retirees have to depend on their children for financial support.

I feel that we retirees must form our own association and fight for our rights. While working we paid our taxes and during our golden years the government should look after our needs.

Those who are in favour please call me at Jeyaraj 012‑4990856.

A. Jeyaraj

Nur Suryani: From Lahat to the London Olympics


By Mariam Mokhtar

London Olympics 2012 - shooting
Nur Suryani Mohamad Taibi

Nur Suryani Mohamad Taibi, originally from Manjoi, has come a long way from the shooting range in Lahat, to represent Malaysia at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Away from the shooting range, the image of a serious person, deep in concentration, staring down the sights of a rifle, gives way to a young woman who is affable, accommodating, down-to-earth, with a delightful sense of humour.

When the Ipoh Echo caught up with 29-year-old Nur Suryani, she was up-beat about her debut at the Olympics: “When I first started shooting, all I wanted was to see how far I could progress. But to make it to the Olympics, was a dream come true.”

“A few days after tests confirmed my pregnancy, I found that I had qualified for the Olympic Games. So, there was a double celebration.”

Her first shooting event, on the day after the Olympics opening ceremony, was tough as she concedes: “I was up against the best in the world. To represent my country is a once in a lifetime achievement. Although I did not make it to the finals, I tried my best. I am satisfied with my performance. I hope to inspire other women in Malaysia.”

Nur Suryani who is 47th in the world ranking for the 10-metre air rifle event, is also a Commonwealth Games gold medallist. She has a dizzying array of medals from various international shooting events, like the Guangzhou Asian Games and the World Cup in Sydney.

In November 2011, she won two gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games in the 10-metre air rifle and 50-metre three position rifle. She qualified in both these disciplines, for the 2012 Olympics, at the Asian Championships in Doha, Qatar two months later. Although her preferred event is the 50m rifle, the growth of her belly as her pregnancy advanced, made it difficult to shoot in the prone position.

Nur Suryani’s road to success was not without controversy. Two months after qualifying, she was strongly urged to reconsider her Olympic participation. Some believed that her pregnancy would affect her performance. Others said she was selfish and that she was only endangering the health of her baby and herself.

Her detractors were silenced when doctors certified that she was fit to travel and to participate in the games. “I have to ignore the critics as I must be focused in what I do. I have worked hard to get where I am. On the whole, people have been most supportive.”

Her dedication to the sport is endorsed by her manager, Muzli Mustakim. “Nur Suryani is very disciplined. She is a level-headed person and in spite of her condition, I am extremely pleased with her performance,” said Muzli, who is also the honorary executive assistant secretary of the National Shooting Association of Malaysia.

Nur Suryani’s husband accompanied her to London but she was disappointed that her father could not come. “I was fifteen when, with the encouragement of my father, I took up shooting. He said, “Kalau nak bergaya, buat rifle; kalau nak relax dan senang, tembak guna pistol”. (If you want to be stylish, choose the rifle; if you want something more relaxing and easy, choose the pistol.) “I was only a youngster and I wanted to ‘bergaya’ – so I took up the rifle.”

Her participation has caused a stir in the Olympics village with an unprecedented number of requests for interview, from the foreign media. “I am surprised by the publicity. I think I might have made history as the most pregnant woman to compete in the history of the Games”.

Nur Suryani is the older of two girls, and attended the primary school Sekolah Manjoi-1. Her secondary school was the Sekolah Dr Megat Khas, the former Labrooy school. “I learnt at the Perak Shooting Association, near Bradken, in Lahat. I now train at the shooting range in Subang.”

Nur Suryani is aware that she is a role model for women. “If you have confidence and the belief in yourself, you can do anything”, she said. Her advice to school children with an interest in shooting, was to join the Police Cadets.

She portrays herself as a simple and easy person who can get along with most people: “But I choose my friends carefully.”

Most of her Olympic gear (rifle, shooting jacket, spotting scope, pellets) was funded by the Malaysian government. Her shooting jacket, which was sourced overseas, cost a whopping RM2,800.

Swimming forms part of her exercise regime. “Most people’s hearts beat at 80 beats per minute. Athletes aim for 50-60 beats per minute. I shoot in between the beats. So it is important I keep fit. “I love food. If I go to the gym, I may burn 2,000 calories but then consume 5,000 calories of food afterwards. That is why I prefer swimming to the gym.

She also mentioned the downside of swimming. “I used to swim daily until my bump got bigger. Now I garden. Although the water makes it easier to float, I feel like a Telly Tubby when I put on a swimsuit!” She maintains that she would resume shooting after childbirth.

“Definitely, I will carry on. I want to do my best to qualify for the next Olympics.”

Now that the Olympics is over, Nur Suryani’s next challenge, is that of naming her baby.

Ipoh Echo would like to congratulate Nur Suryani on her Olympic participation and wish her well with her first baby, a girl.

Musings on Food – SeeFoon gets environmentally friendly


musings on food - food reviewsBy See Foon Chan-Koppen

Nowadays, as a result of the popularity of the Ipoh Echo as ‘The Voice of the Ipoh Community’, my column appears to be widely read and perfect strangers come up to me at restaurants and eating places to either tell me that they have tried some of my recommendations, or to make some recommendations of their own.

Musings on Food - See Foon Chan-Koppen

My tailor Alan, while not a stranger to me, did just that recently when I went to him for some tailoring work. He pointed to a corner shop across the road (Ipoh Garden East past Citrus)  and asked me if I had eaten there. Always on the alert for new culinary delights, I jumped at the opportunity and pumped him for more information.

Faux Sharks Fin

Alan quickly reeled off a list of dishes that this restaurant Sam Poh is famous for and one dish made me prick up my ears. Faux (as in fake) Sharks fin that tastes like the real McCoy. Now I have always loved Sharks fin…yes you greenies out there…I am admitting to this heinous crime…but lately owing to pressure from friends, friends’ friends, and particularly, from friends’ children, I have not been ordering this dish. It does not mean that I can shut off the hankerings, so when Alan mentioned Faux Sharks fin, I felt compelled to satisfy my taste buds.

Musings on Food - See Foon Chan-KoppenMusings on Food - See Foon Chan-KoppenMusings on Food - See Foon Chan-KoppenMusings on Food - See Foon Chan-KoppenTwelve of us descended on Sam Poh one Sunday evening to find it busy to overflowing. As I had taken the trouble to book earlier, we found ourselves on the pavement at an extra large table complete with (oh what a treat!) red table cloth.

Corkage Charged

A sign posted on the wall warned us that alcohol brought to the premises would be charged a corkage fee per bottle. After much to-ing and fro-ing we agreed on being charged a flat fee of RM20 for all the bottles we brought, for which we were rewarded with two large bottles of water, ice and glasses.

The dishes arrived in rapid succession. Starting with the Fish Head curry, grouper head cut into chunks in a mild very tasty ‘lemak’ curry sauce, smooth with ladies fingers, and other vegetables. RM34. This was followed by the ‘Fatt Put’ a fried mashed taro basket filled to the brim with a mixture of vegetable – french beans, mushrooms, carrots. The yam basket was crisp on the bite and soft and smooth inside, the vegetables which are sauteed separately and then placed into the yam ring, were also crisp and full of ‘wok hei’ a sure sign of good Chinese stir fry. RM13.

The next dish to arrive was so scrumptious that we all unanimously voted to order a second portion. This was a large grilled squid, the tentacles crisped at the edges, the body gently charred to release that inimitable grilled squid fragrance, topped with a mildly flavoured abalone sauce. Utterly delectable. RM22 per portion. Egg plant with salted fish came next, well braised, with hints of salted fish flavours, RM9.

Almost the real McCoy

Pork belly slices, fried crispy and topped with a sweetish teriyaki/barbecue sauce was a hit at the table especially with the westerners who were with us that night. RM15. Then came the reason I was there in the first place: the Faux Sharks fin which came braised with silky bean curd and oyster mushrooms. I was expecting some soggy strands of jelly passing off as sharks fin but I was delightfully surprised to discover some thickish, quite springy strands of  look alikes that actually tasted almost like the real thing. The addition of black vinegar brought back memories of the bowls of the real stuff I used to eat in my pre-ecological days. A yummy ecological and economical substitute at RM12.

Another dish worthy of mention was the braised pork leg with pig’s tendons. Hints of Shao Tsing Chinese rice wine permeated the succulent chunks of meat, bones, tendons and skin; velvety smooth, gliding down one’s gullet with a slurp and a swallow. RM15.

The Ham Dan (salted egg) chicken was a tad on the salty side but nevertheless delectable, liberally coated with salted egg yolk that was more of a sauce than a batter. RM18. We finished our meal with one of the best Hokkien fried noodles, a dish I have not eaten in a very long time, Singapore being the only place where I’ve ever had it (other than when my mother used to do it). What is special about these yellow noodles which arrived looking very bland and anemic is the almost soupy consistency which in the best of traditions is usually fried with squid, pork belly and prawns and bean sprouts. The soupiness comes from prawn stock which lends its distinctive flavours to the whole dish. RM12.

All in, our bill for 12 people came to RM223 and as we left all groaning from the surfeit, we promised each other to return and do it all over again.

Sam Poh Restaurant
17 Persiaran Bandar Bahrun 16
Desa Tambun Indah
Tel.: 016 5516869 Elliza: 016 501 9345

Parent-Student Get-Together


Ipoh Sri Murugan Centre, Sri Subramaniam Temple at Gunung Cheroh Over a thousand parents and students gathered at the Sri Subramaniam Temple, Gunung Cheroh recently for the Kalvi Yaathirai programme organised by the Ipoh Sri Murugan Centre. It was essentially a prayer session to seek Lord Muruga’s blessing for the students’ academic excellence.

Sri Murugan Centre, founded nearly three decades ago by Dato’ Dr M. Thambirajah, provides educational guidance for underprivileged children in primary and secondary schools. The centre has grown in strength from four in 1983 to 103 today. Over the years it has helped some 21,000 students to graduate from both local and foreign universities.

The centre’s coordinator, K. Nachemuthu stressed the importance of falling back on culture and religion to inculcate good values in Indian students. He thanked the parents for their continued support. Similar prayer sessions were also conducted at other centres in the country.

The event started with Kalvi Yaagam, a special prayer ceremony which was graced by the Adun of Manjoi, Dato’ Haji Nazri bin Hj Ismail. Nazri later gave away presents to students who had done well in their studies. He expressed his admiration for the centre’s success in motivating students. “A literate community can bring positive changes to the country,” he remarked.


Delicate Draw for Seladangs


perak football teamPerak will be in for a rough ride in the upcoming Malaysia Cup. The Seladangs are in Group C along with Super League sides Negeri Sembilan, Felda United and FA Cup finalist, Sime Darby.

The obvious threat comes from Negeri Sembilan, who is the reigning Malaysia Cup champion. The Deers’ final position of sixth in the recently concluded Super League does not reflect their true credentials. Azraai Khor’s men are well-equipped in terms of experience and youth, with Super League top scorer Jean-Emmanuel Effa Owona leading their line upfront.

Sime Darby too had an impressive season that saw them marching all the way into the FA Cup final, before losing to eventual champion Kelantan in the final last May. The Premier League side boasts one of the hottest foreign signing, Patrick Ronaldinho the team’s leading campaigner. Felda United too cannot be taken lightly. E. Elavarasan’s boys were only narrowly defeated twice in the Super League earlier this year, with the scoreline being 2-1 in favour of Perak on both occasions.

Though their group matches appear delicate enough, a bigger challenge awaits them in the knockout round. The two teams that qualify from Group C will face off against two qualifiers from Group B, which is the official “Group of Death” with the likes of Kelantan, Terengganu, ATM and Kedah in it.

There is no denying that Perak will be in for a tough Malaysia Cup campaign. Not many feel they will go far. However, midfield maestro, Michal Kubala is optimistic.

“The team has been training hard. We’ll show our true form in the Malaysia Cup. Every game will be a hard game as there are no easy games in football,” he told Ipoh Echo.

Nevertheless, the Seladangs have made a positive move to bolster their squad. They have snapped up three Sabah players in the form of skipper Reithaudin Awang, Zuraindey Jumai and Fariss Azlan. Reithaudin is already well-known for his experience in defence while Zuraindey and Fariss will add more oomph to the side.

Jang Jung is likely to introduce several talents from the successful Perak President Squad into the senior team. Players like Kenny Pallraj and Nurridzuan Abu Hassan are likely to make the cut.

With Perak set to open their Malaysia Cup campaign against Sime Darby on Wednesday, August 22, the final preparation kicks off now. Inconsistency was a niggling issue throughout the Super League season. Jang Jung is keen to sort things out before the big day. With the inclusion of the new players, the squad is definitely capable of going far. That is my honest to goodness view.


Noel D'Oliveiro, hockey coach, st michael's institution teacher

Farewell Master Noel


hockey coach, st michael's institution teacherFormer Michaelian, teacher and hockey coach, Master Noel D’Oliveiro was given a grand Michaelian farewell at his funeral which took place on 30 July.

Master Noel, as he was popularly known, was the hockey coach at St Michael’s Institution (SMI) whilst teaching there in the ‘70s.

A statement in the SMI blog site described Master Noel as “SMI Hockey Master, Produced world class hockey players from SMI”.

Indeed under the guidance of Master Noel, SMI, in 1972, became the U-16 Champions of Ipoh District followed by Kinta District and subsequently State Champions. Two of his players Foo Keat Seong and Abdul Hadi subsequently played for the country.

Noel D'Oliveiro, hockey coach, st michael's institution teacherOn the morning of his funeral, the first order of the morning assembly at SMI was a 1-minute silence for its former teacher. That same afternoon before proceeding to St Michael’s Church, Michaelian students lined up in salute to pay their last respects as the cortege passed by his Alma Mater.

Similarly at the funeral mass, the SMI Military Band was in attendance and rendered the schools anthem and Auld Lang Syne while the school’s Prefects gave a salute before departing from church.

Present at the funeral were several of his loving hockey players such as Foo Keat Seong, Christy Gomez and Rohan Marshall whilst Gerard Raj (Gerry), the school’s first U-16 School Captain, gave the eulogy on his former coach.

Also noted in the assembly were former ACS Hockey Coach, Master Brian Foenander.

Undoubtedly the legacy left behind by Master Noel has gone beyond the boundaries of the school and has contributed greatly to the state and country.

Noel D'Oliveiro, hockey coach, st michael's institution teacher


Balanced Budget – Obsession or Compulsion?


By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

I wonder how many of us are aware that Ipoh City Council’s budget for year 2013 and 2014 was tabled by the mayor on July 31. Yes, Ipoh’s biennial budget has been tabled and Ipohites are clueless. Even we from the press remained uninformed till the very last moment.

The fax from the Council only mentioned a full-board meeting on the appointed date and nothing more. Was it deliberate? Was it an oversight? I have no way of telling, as odd things do happen from time to time.

Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh - MBIFunny, an event of such significance took place without so much as a whimper from the Council. How could it happen?  Well, whatever it was, it happened.

The press was issued a transcript of the mayor’s budget speech and that to me was a revelation of gigantic proportions. It was in Bahasa Malaysia. My poor reporter had problem deciphering it let alone understand the meaning of the flowery language which was peppered with innuendos and salutations. It is the norm with departmental speeches where the need to acknowledge the datuks and tan sris in the crowd is so ingrained in the mindset. It is polite, they say.

Two phrases in the mayor’s speech caught my eye. One was “Mentransformasikan Kerajaan ke-arah Mentransfromasikan Malaysia” meaning “to transform the government towards transforming Malaysia”. It is one mouthful. Ever since the Prime Minister came up with his “Transformasi” mumbo-jumbo, the whole nation has become so engrossed with the word “transformation”, especially those in the public sector. On the whole, however, nothing has transformed as yet.

The other is “Penyedian Anggaran Bajet dwi tahunan 2013 dan 2014 ini telah dibuat berpandukan kepada garis panduan Kerajaan Negeri dimana bajet seimbang menjadi teras kepada bajet pihak berkuasa tempatan” or “the drafting of the city’s biennial budget 2013 and 2014 is based on the guidelines given by the state government where a balanced budget becomes the thrust of local councils’ budgets.” The fixation with a balanced budget, therefore, is not for reasons of prudence but to abide by state government’s guidelines. How naive!

The mayor, as expected, announced a budget of RM151,985,000 for Year 2013 and RM155,200,000 for Year 2014. The budget is balanced because incomes for Year 2013 and Year 2014 are comparable to amount to be expended. It could not be simpler than that.

Incidentally, seventy per cent of the Council’s revenues come from the annual assessment rates. Operational Expenses for 2013 are tagged at RM148,785,000 while that of 2014 are estimated at RM151,700,000. The major bulk of the operational expenses, however, are for emoluments. For 2013, the sum is RM84 million while for 2014, the cost is RM87 million. More than half of the budget goes to paying the Council’s burgeoning number of staff members – over 2,700 at the last count. So you now know where your hard-earned money goes to.

The budget will be passed without much fuss, as it has happened in the past. Do the councillors debate and question the management’s wisdom in spending the Council’s money or more appropriately, rate-payers’ money? I don’t think so.

How are we to know how much is being allocated for road repairs and maintenance?  What about rubbish disposal, grass cutting and the clearing of monsoon drains? What about safety in the streets and crime-prone areas? Will enough CCTVs be installed and where will they be installed? Is there a need to organise dinners at upscale hotels and restaurants, and the inexplicable lawatan sambil belajar. Why this and why that? We have plenty to ask but how are we to ask when our views are never sought?

It will be a balanced budget as long as the Council does not spend more than what it gets. That is the whole crux of the matter. You spend what you get and nothing more. How the Council spends it is never questioned. If that is the premise, Ipoh City Council budget will remain balanced forever.