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Book Launch: Ipoh, My Home Town

Admiring 'Ipoh, My Home Town'. (l-r) Dato' Lat, Tun Dr Lim and Ian Anderson

The who’s who of Ipoh gathered at the Royal Ipoh Club on September 17 for the book launch of Ipoh, My Home Town, a 276-page coffee table book compiled by Scottish expatriate Commander Ian Anderson who has lived in the city since 1999.

Present for the launch was Tun Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, a former cabinet minister, and Dato’ Mohamad Noor Khalid better known as Lat, cartoonist.

In his address Anderson described the book as “unusual” as it had not 1 but 47 authors, while he was just “the editor and compiler of the book”.

There are 67 stories in all in which the authors describe their growing up years in Ipoh with a wide spectrum of topics of life from the early to mid 20th century.

Dato ‘Lat” contributed a reading from the book about the time when his dad shifted to Sungai Rokam Ipoh and described his experiences as a town boy at the time.

But probably it was Tun Dr. Lim who really brought the launch to life when he described his experience of growing up in Ipoh upon being sent to St Michael’s Institution boarding school at the age of seven from his hometown Tapah.

From the third floor of the school he learnt about the “boisterous mat salleh’s at the Ipoh Club on weekends”; how, feeling rich with 50 cents in his pocket, he could have the best rojak and cendol pulut and watch a game at Anderson Road padang or enjoy a wholesome murtabak at the Railway Goodshed near his school.

He also reminisced on  “cycling everywhere around town, eating the best ais kacang at Cowan Street, buying Beano and Dandy comics from small bookshops, afternoon dances at the YMCA,” and repeatedly mentioned the beautiful girls in Ipoh then. Undoubtedly the joy that he had experienced growing up in Ipoh has been etched in his memory permanently.

Dr. Lim was however amazed that it took a foreigner, Ian Anderson, to come out with the book about ‘my home town’ a comment that drew a murmured acknowledgement from the 200-strong audience.

Then again, Anderson has a passion for Ipoh. Many would remember that in 2006 Anderson held an exhibition at Museum Darul Ridzuan entitled, “The Story of Ipoh: From Feet to Flight” which traced the history of transportation from boats and sampans to gharries, automobiles and aeroplanes. That exhibition was reported to have attracted over 5,000 visitors.

With his kind of passion, first an exhibition and now a book, Anderson certainly has earned the right to call Ipoh “My” hometown.

Ipoh, My Home Town is available at MPH (Kinta City), S.S. Mubarak (Old Town), Ariff Store (Canning Garden) and online at: www.ipohworld.org.


Ipoh, My Home Town: Reminiscences of Growing Up in Ipoh, in Pictures and Words


Penned by 47 different authors, all of whom spent some or all of their childhood days in Ipoh, this is a book like none other. Here they share their memories of their beloved “Home Town”, good and bad, which together provide a rich tapestry of sights and sounds of days gone by. The writers have reminisced about growing up in Ipoh, in 64 different, heart-warming and absorbing tales, the earliest from a young man born on Market Street in 1920 and the youngest just turned 13.

The stories range across a wide spectrum of subjects – from food to fashion, geese to girlfriends, opium to opera, schools to squalor, toilets to Towkays and rubber seeds to rocking horses. Indeed the book seems to cover every aspect of what growing up in Ipoh was all about and how life changed as the years rolled by.

The list of authors, many of whom live overseas, is also impressive for there are representatives from all the major races of Peninsula Malaysia, plus a couple of Europeans and even an Iban, born in Ipoh. Truly “Bangsa Malaysia”, they come from all walks of life, Captain Ho Weng Toh, a “Flying Tiger”, Professor Wang Gungwu, a Greentown boy before the war, Malaysia’s most famous ‘Kampung Boy’ Lat (who has also written the Foreword), a famous Towkay’s daughter, well-known representatives from stage, screen and radio and successful businessmen and women, housewives and mothers, but no politicians.

Obviously a book like this needs an editor and compiler and here is another surprise for no one would guess that this exceptional book is the work of an expatriate, Commander Ian Anderson, who has adopted Ipoh as his “Home Town”. But then again, Anderson is an exceptional person who plays a greater part in Ipoh than many locals. He is the man behind www.ipohworld.org, Tenby Schools Ipoh’s history project. He is clearly dedicated to Ipoh and its history, as this book demonstrates.

But this is not just a collection of stories for each one is backed up by photographs, many never seen before. Around 450 in all and there is an added bonus for Lat’s own story which has original cartoons to illustrate his piece.

Hard bound, with 276 pages, beautifully laid out with tasteful pastel colours that enhance the overall feeling of enjoyment, the book sells in all the normal outlets for the surprisingly economical price of RM100. Worthy of a price tag significantly higher, the publisher has set this on a “Non Profit” basis in the hope that this will allow more people to enjoy this unique venture.

I thoroughly recommend this book as an important and significant work, a book for all ages, even if you do not come from Ipoh. It is for those who have already grown up and love to look back to their happy days when a cardboard box, home-made toys, a few rubber seeds or a matchbox and a spider could become the nucleus in the making of a champion. But it is also for those who are still growing up to find out that walking an hour to school and back was quite normal, 5-cents pocket money was enough to survive on and girls were just for looking at.

Published by Media Masters Publishing Sdn Bhd, based in Ipoh. Available at major bookstores, online at www.ipohworld.org and Ipoh Echo. Tel: 05‑2495938 or e-mail: info@mediamasters.com.my.