Tag Archives: polo ground

Sultan Abdul Aziz Park

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Letter

I am one of the regular joggers at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Park (also known as the Polo Ground), in Ipoh. As such, allow me to give a few suggestions for further improvement. It would be  good to widen the present track to at least 2-3 feet. Planting more trees along the track gives more shade to the users as well as those who wish to relax along the benches.

While I am grateful for this service provided by the Municipal Council, I would also like to highlight some inconveniences which have cropped up lately. These things may be minor yet in the long run it will cause more harm than good to those who frequent the park.

The tiled jogging track has of late been used by motorcyclists and this is very dangerous for the joggers/runners, and especially dangerous to children who also play around the area. It is not just random members of the public who do this but also policemen, enforcement officers and DBI workers. They seem to use this track as a shortcut to their pondok. Another issue is the mowing of grass during peak hours (when there is a fairly large crowd using the grounds).

However, what bothers me most are the many vendors around the grounds. It seems that this place is no longer a scenic exercise ground but more like a market. These vendors not only sell drinks and cooked food, but also sell vegetables, clothes, bakery goods and others. I have no qualms against these vendors but I am just wondering how these vendors have multiplied over time.

I do hope the enforcement officers and those responsible for the maintenance of this park will look into this matter, and perhaps take the necessary actions. I am sure many others, like myself, would want to preserve this beautiful park for many more years to come as this is one of the better jogging grounds in Ipoh City.

Lourd Nathan

Rape of the Polo Ground

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I am a resident of Ipoh who enjoys a bit of nature by way of some brisk walking at the Polo Ground and regular climbs up Kledang Hill where we can still be blessed with some fresh air and greenery and a suitable place for sweating it out after a long day of work and fatigue.

But sadly this faint bit of luxury and leisure seems to be fast diminishing, which brings me to write this letter to our dear Ipoh Mayor, c/o Ipoh Echo.

I strongly believe it is high time our Mayor and his council come to one conclusive decision as to whether he wishes to keep the Polo Ground as a place for exercise and relaxation for Ipoh folks or as the latest hawking centre for Visit Perak Year 2012? I dearly wish that the Mayor and his councillors can take some time off their busy meeting schedules to observe the goings-on at the Polo Ground at different hours of the day.

I have it up to my neck by now and I just have to voice some of my observations and indeed grievances. The hawking activities at the Polo Ground have spread like a disease uncontrolled. Firstly, there is the obvious hawking by the roadside, van after van, with tables, chairs and stools, even huge shade umbrellas, all springing up like the wild lalang weeds after the monsoon rains, depriving genuine exercise-lovers of precious parking space, attracting drive-by customers who would double-park to eat or even to ‘tapau’ some. Then, there is also hawking in the Polo Ground itself, with ice-cream hawking, balloon hawking, kite hawking, soap-bubble tube hawking, toy hawking, kuih-muih hawking, kacang-putih hawking, syrup drink hawking, T-shirt hawking, etc. etc. As if that is not enough, even at the public toilet, the attendant is hawking some kind of medicated oil or stuff like that in bottles of different sizes and shapes…OMG!

And so, along with all these hawking activities, the whole park compound is littered with plastic containers and spoons, polystyrene plates & bowls, soft drink cans, plastic bags of all shapes and sizes and of course unfinished food of all types and lots of used tissue paper. Some are left on the park benches, some on the children’s playground, some are left hanging from the poor, under-nourished  trees, some are simply being kicked around till they eventually become a part of the park landscape. The ones who have a bit of conscience throw the polystyrene into the dustbins which are forever overflowing. And huge black garbage bags by the tens of them form a permanent temporary feature of the Polo Ground, being nicely and strategically placed every 10 to 15 feet apart. And not forgetting the aroma of exercise sweat mixed with rancid oil and spoiled food permeating around the so-called green lungs of Ipoh. How about including this as a special on The Sights and Sounds of Ipoh for Visit Perak Year 2012?

And I have yet to mention the unnecessary traffic congestion arising as a result of all these hawking activities!

And talking about vehicle traffic, why are so many motorbikes allowed into the Polo Ground compound? These young bikers ride into the compound along the walking paths meant for people who walk and they not only pose a threat to the latter’s safety but they are indeed also another source of air pollution! On the evening of October 24, my eyes nearly popped out when I witnessed a white Kancil, full of passengers, driving into the Polo Ground along the walking path all the way to the toilet area! What exactly is happening to the civic-mindedness of Ipohites? Something is indeed very amiss with our whole education system!

While this rape of the Polo Ground is being played out, I sincerely hope that the other green lung of Ipoh, Kledang Hill in Menglembu, will be spared a similar fate. We, as true sons and daughters of Ipoh, should do our best to prevent the hawking disease from blatantly spreading anywhere else. After all, we all know that there is a time and place for everything in life, including exercising and eating.

I rest my case for now. I pray that our Mayor and his team of councillors can and will find the time to look into this matter and make a firm decision as regards the future fate of the Polo Ground. By taking up this case, hopefully he can arrest the disease and prevent it from further metastasis.

Tan Hwai Chin

Way to Go, Ipohites!

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

It’s a mind game. We simply don’t have the resolve and wherewithal to be and remain clean. Look at Polo Ground. . .

We have been in publication for over five years and have heard nothing but stony silence from the authorities on issues raised by this paper. So it is yet another milestone that we are celebrating because for the first time a serving mayor of Ipoh responded personally to an article in Ipoh Echo. Our lead piece entitled, “Are We Ashamed of Ipoh’s Glorious Past” by Jerry Francis (IE 97) has struck a chord with Mayor Roshidi and he has taken the time to write an unsolicited letter giving his or rather MBI’s side of the story vis-à-vis the crumbling old buildings which Jerry had highlighted.

Mayor’s Comments

Concerned readers have given their two cents worth by commenting on the piece in Ipoh Echo’s website (see www.ipohecho.com.my). We received 25 comments, the highest for a single piece of news thus far. However, out of the lot, Roshidi’s response is the most poignant as it provides a glimpse of our mayor’s thinking and feelings.

Roshidi refers to Jerry’s piece as misleading, believing “it will give a negative perception of Ipoh, per se.” We all agree that looks have plenty to do with perception. “The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend”, says Robertson Davies, the famous Canadian novelist.

Art, Heritage or Eyesore

Perceptive power of the mind transcends the reality we see right in front of us.

So a derelict building with windows hanging on hinges, roof almost non-existent and walls crumbling is art in its purest form for some, heritage for a few and an eyesore for the rest. Whatever the mind wants to think, the mere presence of this dilapidated building, standing perilously, at the convergence of two arterial streets is definitely not the best sight. Therefore, the only sensible thing to do is to have it demolished. Levelling the building is less hazardous to the eyes and minds than to allow it to decay in full view of residents.

Special Committee

The mayor has alluded to a special committee formed from among the councillors to oversee the decaying buildings. Tracing the errant property owners is a priority he has justifiably imposed as a precondition. The committee’s functionality is, however, in doubt as the tenure of councillors came to an end last June. While waiting for fresh appointees, the said committee is being mothballed for good measure. Will it be revived? If past experience is anything to go by, a revival seems almost unlikely; unless the need is too overpowering and the reasons too damning.

While the committee drifts into obscurity and the property owners remain faceless and untraceable, Ipohites continue to suffer in silence. Do we have an option? Yes, we do but at what cost?

Roshidi comes with good credentials. He served Tajol Rosli as his private secretary and then assumed the post of MBI Secretary before taking over as mayor in 2008. The uncertainty of his re-appointment for a second term as mayor was put to rest when the Menteri Besar retained him in his post for a subsequent two-year term, effective June.

Action Plan

In his acceptance speech, Roshidi had pledged to assist the MB in realising the much-touted Governmental Transformational Programme and would initiate an action plan to convert the city into a pedestrian and vehicle-friendly haven similar in stature to Wenzhou in China. The fact that our MB has looked towards a Chinese city as a fitting model to emulate is totally unexpected, mindful of the impression we have about China.

The Chinese have, since the 2008 Olympics, made tremendous strides in developing their cities and towns. Today Beijing and Shanghai no longer look like what they were, say five years ago. The cities’ broad and tree-lined streets remind one of the West rather than the East. The transformation is monumental. Awesome is the word. Chinese haute culture is here to stay.

Chinese Experience

Sipping coffee at Starbucks at the entrance to the famous Silk Street bargain mall in downtown Beijing recently, I was dumbstruck by the modernity surrounding me. It looked as though I was on Orchard Road, Singapore. The streets were clean while the road shoulders were spotless. Although there are 5 million motor vehicles, of all makes and models in Beijing, traffic jams are no where near those in Kuala Lumpur. Surprisingly, there are no feral cats and stray dogs running wild like we see here in Ipoh.

How could the Chinese do so? Some attribute it to Communism. But to me, it is all a mind game. We simply don’t have the resolve and wherewithal to be and remain clean. Just look at Polo Ground. “It’s in your blood,” said Venera, my Uzbek sister-in-law, teasingly. She is damn right.

Way to go, Ipohites! Way to go! There is much to learn from the Chinese experience, warts and all.

Stop The “Kampung” Mentality, MBI! and MBI responds

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“… if our authorities continue to hold on to their “third world mentality” of allowing hawkers free rein anywhere and everywhere they please, we will forever be nothing more than a backward “kampung” nation”.

I would like to thank and commend Encik Fathol Zaman Bukhari for his excellent article “Polo ground – is a solution possible?” in the February 12-28, 2010 issue of Ipoh Echo.  He has not only brought to light the increasingly intolerable issue of illegal hawkers at the park, an issue which has long been swept under the carpet by MBI, but also attempted to offer some possible solutions to the problem.

On the matter of legislation, Taman Rekreasi Sultan Abdul Aziz did start off as a strictly “No hawkers” zone, but about ten years or so ago, this rule was flagrantly broken with the advent of the first hawker stall along Persiaran Brash.  Emboldened by the total lack of action by the local council and encouraged by brisk business, hawker stalls began to mushroom along the street, first tentatively, but quickly gathering in courage and commitment.  It was not long before the band of hawkers formed a strong alliance among themselves and became a “union” of sorts, watching out for one another and actively threatening anyone who dared stand in their way or come up against them.  Even MBI, it seems, is rendered powerless by the might of this “hawker mafia”.

Today, these hawkers, who number between 10 and 12 along the street, go about their business with total and uninhibited wild abandon. And why not? With no real legislation, they may as well have MBI’s blessings.  In the last ten years, Polo Ground has been gradually taken over by hawkers who seem to be the law unto themselves. The lovely park of bygone days has completely lost its dignity, reduced to nothing more than a circus act controlled by the hawker ‘Mafia’.

How very tragic that the handful of hawkers who are the cause of this huge problem continue to be allowed to dictate matters at Polo Ground. What is the hidden agenda here??

We strive to be a developed country but the uncivilized sight that greets visitors to some of our parks speaks volumes that we have a long way to go before this can happen.   For one thing, if our authorities continue to hold on to their “third world mentality” of allowing hawkers free rein anywhere and everywhere they please, we will forever be nothing more than a backward “kampung” nation.

What is the point of investing millions of Government funds into facilities and landscaping when the environment in the park is denigrated and ruined by the ugly sight of hawkers flogging their wares, while flies abound and rodents run rampant around the park. This is not to mention the traffic, pollution and general chaos that are brought about by the existence of hawkers.

In addition, Polo Ground does not have the capacity to accommodate large-scale events which are better organized at Dataran Ipoh, Ipoh Padang and Taman DR Seenivasagam.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen has called for our parks and gardens to be tourism products, but tourists visiting Polo Ground would not find our park very pleasant at all!  The Government should take a leaf from Penang’s book and see how they have managed to draw tourists to their parks and gardens.

The lovely Botanical Gardens is a fine example of what a well run park should be – a green lung strictly for rest and recreation – and totally devoid of the menace of hawkers.

Yet Penang is a hawker’s paradise, for both hawkers and fans of hawker food alike.  Hawkers operate in strictly gazetted zones and streets dedicated to hawker fare.  Look at Persiaran Gurney and New Lane, two very successful streets where hawkers flourish.  They are not located in residential areas!

Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh, why not create Ipoh’s own “food streets” instead of allowing hawkers to set up stalls wherever they please?

It is time to stop this “kampung” mentality!  Stern action must be taken immediately to relocate the illegal hawkers at Polo Ground to a designated hawker zone away from the residential area surrounding the park.  When law and order is firmly implemented at Taman Rekreasi Sultan Abdul Aziz, only then can we turn the park into a tourist attraction all Perakeans can be proud of.

So, in answer to the question:  is a solution possible at Polo Ground?  Previous Governments have shown they were either not capable of resolving the crisis, or could not be bothered.  The present Government, under the helm of Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry, Datuk Bandar Hj Roshidi and State Senior Executive Councillor Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon, can prove otherwise, and indeed must be seen to be the people’s Government rather than “all talk” only.

MBI, it’s time to come clean.  Come forward and answer to the people of Ipoh!

Polo Ground Action Committee

Ipoh Echo received this letter in response to the same topic:

“The Council has acted by issuing compounds and seizing movable items belonging to the illegal hawkers. We will continue with our enforcement efforts from time to time.”

This is most encouraging. Our pleas are having the desired effect.

Polo Ground Is A Solution Possible?

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The concept of a public park in the eyes and minds of Malaysians seems slightly clouded. There is this mistaken belief that business and healthy pursuits co-existed harmoniously in parks. Nowhere is this notion so evident than at Ipoh’s iconic Taman Rekreasi Sultan Abdul Aziz aka Polo Ground. Over here health buffs jostle for space with itinerant hawkers on wheels making it a sight to behold. Perhaps it is a Malaysian way of life where hawking is ingrained in our culture. Or could it be simple economics, as one reader puts it, “where there’s demand there’s supply.”

The problems posed by hawkers, vandals and noise polluters prompted another reader to implore succinctly to return the park to its former grandeur, one which is “free from hawkers, vandals, vermin, noise pollution and traffic”. 

Short-Lived Eviction

These are real problems which require solutions not knee-jerk reactions. In 2007, the unsightly vista caught the attention of HRH Sultan Azlan Shah who jogs in the park regularly. City Council’s enforcement division swooped down on the illegal traders and overnight they were all gone. It was a huge relief to the residents living nearby.

The eviction exercise, however, was a mere slap on the wrist, all bark no bite, so more hawkers joined the fray. They returned with bigger vans and larger tables. Since it was taboo to do business in the morning they swarmed the grounds when the sun set. Circumventing the law seemed a better option than confronting city council head-on.  It became a cat and mouse game between enforcers and hawkers much to the chagrin of park users and residents alike.  This went on for awhile. Today, with little or no enforcement, these “pesky” hawkers flaunt the law with impunity. 

Legislation

Is there a solution to the problem? Three legislations namely, the Local Government Act 1976, the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 and the Street Drainage and Building Act 1974, dictate how a local council should be managed. Malaysia, being a signatory of the United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992, has attempted (but failed) to adopt and implement a programme for sustainable development at local council level. This is referred to as Local Agenda 21 (LA 21). The three legislations, LA 21 and MBI-sanctioned by-laws, are sufficient to make amends for the gross injustice that has wrought havoc on visitors and residents living near the Polo Ground.

Apathy and Tidak-Apa

So why is MBI not responding to demands by Ipohites? Reasons are aplenty. Apathy tops the list. Next is our favourite Malaysian malaise, tidak-apa attitude and finally, a feeling of déjà vu. Why bother, the problem does not affect me and further more, no one is complaining. And one other excuse so freely expressed, “depa pun nak cari makan” (they too want to eat). These are the reasons why we have to put up with a sight which have become commonplace at almost all public parks in the country.

So what options are left for the hard-pressed and much maligned visitors and residents of Polo Ground? How can they get the authorities to act? And how must they go about getting the authorities to act?

Options

One possible way is to form an action committee consisting of all residents living near Polo Ground. List all the complaints you have and go on a signature campaign. Even the health buffs can do their part by forming an ad hoc committee. Get Peter Choong, the councillor for Zone 14, to act. Let him do your bidding, for after all that is his responsibility.

Ipoh City Watch (ICW) a non-governmental organisation formed in November 2002 dedicated to improving the quality of life of Ipohites can be of help. Although the NGO does not take issues on an individual basis it can provide the much needed guidance in preparing a case. Lawyer Augustine Anthony is the current president of ICW.

Another possible option, and a practical one too, is to make direct representation to Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim himself or to his boss, State Executive Councillor for Local Governments, Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon. Dato’ Mah has been attributed for resolving many outstanding issues concerning citizens’ rights and needs. In fact, on reading one reader’s complaint about the loud music emanating from the park on weekends, Mah informed Ipoh Echo that the problem would be tackled immediately. The mayor’s turun padang programme is his commitment towards making Ipoh a liveable city. Roshidi’s “turning vision into reality” promise is still fresh in our heads.  

Lasting solution

A lasting solution is not impossible. City Council should take cognisance of Ipohites’ growing concern. A public park should operate like park, a quiet place to relax and to exercise. Don’t turn this 27-acre green lung into a ‘pasar malam‘ or a site for jamboree-like gatherings. For the record, Polo Ground was gazetted a park in 2005.

We are already into the second decade of the new millennium. Let’s move on.