Over 150 city councillors and the intellectually curious attended a discussion titled “Ipoh – Innovative Smart City: Accelerate a Future Smart Ipoh” on Wednesday, September 5 at the city council building with guest speaker, Koh Chye Hock.

“I would like to congratulate Councillor Chan Kok Keong for putting together this session despite a short notice of less than 24 hours. The smart city concept is based on the sustainable management of resources and architecture. It is a consumer friendly concept which is becoming popular globally in this new era. Accelerated by technology development, it is aimed to increase the efficiency and productivity in the running of a city,” Mohd Zakuan Hj Zakaria, Council Secretary said.

Chye’s vision to accelerate Ipoh is for it to become the destination of choice for investments in innovation, start-ups and accelerators in technology and creative industry. Plus, having a new identity grounded in its roots and natural environment.

“Up to about 1980s, Ipoh was a very well-known city and always had an identity – tin mining city. After we lost that edge, that identity of Ipoh also collapsed with tin. For many years, Ipoh has been trying very hard to find a new identity and image such as heritage city and tourist city. Ipoh is unique by itself but we need to find or rejuvenate an identity for Ipoh. There is no better time than now for Ipoh to brand itself as an innovative smart city,” Chye explained.

Ipoh’s sister city, Fukuoka is the smart city of Japan focusing on sciences and robotics technology. On the other hand, Chiang Mai focuses on design and creative arts while Hangzhou on technology. For Ipoh, Chye listed six focus areas: smart tourism; health and wellness; food technology; creative industry; education and agro-industry.

“Why I think Ipoh can be a successful innovative smart city? First of all, it is affordable and liveable. It is also easily accessible due to its geographical location. Plus, we have a low-cost structure for investments. Of course, it’s very important to have a pro-investment and business friendly city, state government and citizenry. The engine for innovative smart city is the private sector thus there are two things the government need to do: set the right policies and provide an endorsement,” Chye highlighted.

A native of Ipoh, Chye studied philosophy at the University of Utah, USA. By profession, he is a lawyer. He is the author of “The Chronicler: One Man’s Diary on Life”. Specialising in oil and gas law and working for an American multinational oil company, he is an active leader in his community in non-profit and performing arts space.

Mei Kuan