By the Ipoh Echo Team

How time flies. Ipoh’s only community newspaper, and perhaps the only one in the whole country, is almost 14 years old today. The publication of its 300th issue would have gone unnoticed and unheralded had it not been for the concerned few who felt that one should stand up and be noticed, regardless. Its rather hazy beginning should be highlighted so nothing is lost in transition.

How has the Ipoh Echo made a difference to Ipoh and Perak?

The passage of time has exacted a heavy toll on the pioneering trio. Of the three that started the paper, only one remains to carry on the fight. It is a heavy burden, nonetheless, but persevere he must.

In a rapidly changing world where the print media is fast becoming obsolete, continuity and relevance become not only problematic but a major issue. The closure of several mainstream newspapers is proof enough of this depressing trend. The advent and the popularity of social media is the underpinning reason why newspapers and broadsheets are on the way out.

Regardless of prevailing circumstances, our objective of being the voice of the community remains. As such, Ipoh Echo has to continue to serve the community in whatever ways possible.

The coming years may not be as rosy as we have anticipated but, like a brave matador in a half-empty bull ring, we are bracing for the bull’s final charge.

On a brighter side, let us hear what our legion of dedicated readers have to say about Ipoh Echo. Here are their comments:

 

Organisations

Associate Professor Dr Richard Ng, President of Ipoh City Watch and Chairman of KOHIJAU (Koperasi Hijau) enthused, “I started reading Ipoh Echo since its first issue. First of all, allow me to congratulate Ipoh Echo for its success in keeping Ipohites updated since 2006 with its 300th issues of community-oriented balance reporting.”

According to him, Ipoh Echo has done a good job as the voice of the people and friends of NGOs by holding true to its objective of being a community paper. Not only has it continued to raise contemporary issues affecting the citizens but also offers solutions to problems faced.

“NGOs such as Ipoh City Watch and KOHIJAU have benefited greatly from the transformation that is happening in Ipoh Echo. We are really thankful to Ipoh Echo for their support in helping us highlight many issues affecting the people. Being a self-funded NGO, we depend a lot on the print media to provide the publicity required in helping the people. Ipoh Echo has stood with us from the very beginning,” Dr Richard added.

 

Dato’ Gan Tack Kong, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) Perak chairman, has been reading the Ipoh Echo since its inception by obtaining a copy from his own office at Ngan Yin or FMM Perak. He cited ‘The Editor’s Desk’ as his favourite column because it touches on current issues both at the state and national levels without fear or favour.

“Ipoh Echo, as the established and the only regional newspaper in Perak, serves as an eye opener for the Perak ‘rakyat’ (people) to be hands-on, on current social, political, environmental and health issues. See Foon’s articles on Ipoh’s best eats provide a wide variety of Malaysian foods available not only for Perakeans but also tourists from other states to explore and indulge in. It also provides an avenue for our local companies to advertise their products and services at down-to-earth rates. Our FMM Institute regularly promotes its training programmes in Ipoh Echo,” Dato’ Gan explained.

Subasini Uthra, Senior Manager of the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) Perak Branch commented, "Ipoh Echo truly reflects the people's voice because it is an effective sounding board for the prevalent local issues. For MICCI Perak, Ipoh Echo has assisted in raising the awareness of the existence of the Chamber and its role in the State. Our members always look forward to the Ipoh Echo issues to read about the "goings-on" in the state. The best part of the paper is the promotion of some tourism places which seem to be the hidden treasures in the state."

"The announcement of upcoming events, talks, workshops and so forth in Ipoh Echo are really useful and informative. Personally, I would give a rating of 5-star for this one-of-a-kind paper which broadcasts all kinds of news items and happenings in Perak. Kudos to the Editor and his fantastic team who have over the years have continued to strive to deliver Ipoh Echo to the local community without fail," she added.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Perak Chapter chairperson, Maggie Ong, said, “I get my copy from Syeun Hotel or online ever since Ipoh Echo was incorporated. I find the overall content to be of interest and informative. It brings me up to date with the happenings of the community plus there are many useful articles related to the tourism industry.

Dato’ Dr Ramanathan Ramiah, CEO of Yayasan Sultan Idris Shah (YSIS) and Ipoh Echo reader of over 10 years stated, “Ipoh Echo has always been ready to help us with publishing Yayasan’s activities and plight to request for help from the public. Ipoh Echo has helped NGOs who are working on their own without financial support from the government by promoting and supporting the NGOs’ activities. This, in turn, has helped the local community in the field of rehabilitation and contributed towards the upliftment of society. Ipoh Echo’s vast circulation helps a large number of people in Ipoh and Perak to know about useful events and we are grateful to Ipoh Echo for its great effort.

Tourism Perak Chief Executive Officer, Zuraida Md Taib stated, “Ipoh Echo has brought many positive changes to the community from all walks of life, especially the underprivileged and needy. Its honest reporting without prejudice towards any political ideology makes it the best newspaper in Perak. Ipoh Echo is the voice of the people and its objective should be continued.” She loves the food articles

Pak Peter (Bucher) of Sharpened Word (SW) said, “I vividly remember the first Ipoh Echo office at the then Syuen Hotel. Since its humble beginning, Ipoh Echo fulfils the needs and expectations of Ipohites. Bravo!

“From day one, I always look forward to the bi-monthly publication for the latest updates on local events and happenings. My favourite is the editor’s column and cover stories. In future, I wish to see more previews of events/happenings, in addition to the post-event reporting.

“SW events are boutique events for people with keen interests in creative arts and literature, and always looking for young volunteers. And Ipoh Echo has added so much value to it by being our Media Partner.

“Happy 300th Anniversary and may you have many more years of success and prosperity.”

Ian Anderson, Ipoh World: “Despite having read every issue since the first, I still find this a difficult question to answer. But yes, there have been isolated incidents where Government have paid attention to the Echo and taken action to put things right. Charities, NGO’s and those in need have also been helped by the publicity. But overall not enough attention is paid to the Echo by the Government or the citizens. The city still has many ills that have been highlighted in the Echo more than once: rubbish in the streets, blocked drains, buildings without maintenance, illegal hawkers, traffic problems, a lack of heritage understanding and more. Doesn’t anybody care?”

 

Perakeans

Datin Ushiama, a resident of Meru Valley Resort, also follows Ipoh Echo since its first issue especially the Ipoh food page as her guide to find out the best food for her visitors. Equally, a must-read is the Editor’s Desk section which she described as “fearless and frank opinion representing the people’s voice.” Via the Ipoh Echo, she gets to know the history, geography and happenings in Perak especially Ipoh.

Caesar Nair finds news pertinent to the local community, which may not be in the mainstream newspapers, in the Ipoh Echo. “Some of these news highlight issues which would not otherwise get the attention of the authorities. I recall an article highlighting a housing area along Jalan Kuala Kangsar that had rubbish piling up and was pleasantly surprised Sultan Nazrin read it and instructed Ipoh City Council to clean it up,” he shared, adding that he has been getting his copy of Ipoh Echo regularly for 11 years.

“The On Ipoh Food section helps the local food businesses to be on the food map and adds to the overall appeal of Ipoh being a tourism food haven,” Caesar, also from Meru, said.

Another reader of Ipoh Echo from day one is Tan Yoon Yoke with her interest in both the On Ipoh Food and Health columns where she gets first-hand information which allows her to then create awareness among her friends.

Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian:  “Ipoh Echo has certainly contributed to bringing the buzz back to Ipoh. With their fingers on the pulse of all the happenings, cultural and artistic events usually not covered by our national papers, this small community paper has managed in no small way, to bring global attention to Perak’s tourist attractions, in particular, its food offerings as reviewed by SeeFoon whose expertise in F&B is legend. The editorial column is always honest and explores issues that are current and close to Perakean’s hearts.”

Dato’ Daniel Tay: “Ipoh Echo has brought awareness to the folks of Perak that city councillors should be kept more on their toes and deliver the services they can expect from Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh.

“SeeFoon’s regular articles is a testimony to ‘the way to a man’s (and women’s) heart is through his stomach’ and has contributed to the growing popularity of Ipoh becoming more and more of a food mecca, increasing tourist arrivals. Also, the various health and medical articles, written with authority, is paving the way for medical tourism for our Silver State.”

Dr Chakr Sri Nagara:  “The Ipoh Echo is to be congratulated for having its 300th issue. Well done. Three key ingredients set this paper apart from other common garden newspapers.   Firstly, to Ipohites, food is almost a religion, and SeeFoon’s regular food columns have always been a must read. Secondly, I find editor Fathol Bukhari’s hard-hitting and honest editorial on issues often swept under the carpet, most refreshing. Mariam Mokhtar’s articles are added bonuses. Thirdly, the paper gives the man in the street, space to voice his thoughts, opinions and grievances on the state of affairs that impact the community. This is a start of the journey toward local representation through the ballot box. Syabas Ipoh Echo!”

Peter Chan, CEO of The Haven Resort Hotel: “It is a pleasure for me to send this congratulatory note to the editors and staff of the Ipoh Echo.

“They have done a wonderful job in keeping the denizens of Ipoh informed about the goings-on in this city. Many people have taken this service for granted. Not many cities or countries around the world have such an active and very impartial local newspaper which is both progressive in its editorial approach and unbiased in its reporting.

“Ipoh Echo has indeed made a great contribution to public administrators, business leaders, stakeholders and the general public of this city since 2006.

“We eagerly await your continued contribution for the decades to come.

Ignatius Chew:  “Ipoh Echo is the platform for individuals/organization to gain exposure so it is meaningful for those who are featured in the newspaper. Echo has always been promoting Ipoh’s food tourism, I myself don’t go around looking for places to eat so through Echo I’m updated about what’s good and the where about. Echo should be credited for the growth of old town because they’ve helped Ipoh a lot by creating a notable presence in people’s mind. They’ve also instilled pride of Ipoh in the community. The subjects covered are interesting and have widened my perspective and knowledge of Ipoh, which it’s also very educational. My favourite columns are tourism, travel, food which let me know about the local attractions more.”

Teh Beng Soon from Taiping New Club commented, “The response is good here as all copies are cleared. Ipoh Echo helps to disseminate news on tourism, health, food, culture, history, events and Perakean icons. There are so many historical leftovers from the past for us to bridge the present to the future.”

Azhar Kasim, 55, from Taiping shared a similar sentiment. “I became a loyal reader in 2015. Its ‘Arts & Culture’ column attracts me because, in Ipoh, there are many youths with talents in arts like music, painting and carving which should be focused on. I thank Ipoh Echo for providing a platform for these talented youths,” he posited.

Johnny Au Sek Keong attended Anderson School Ipoh in the early 70s, emigrated to New Zealand. Seen here reading the Ipoh Echo in front of New Zealand’s Parliament House in Wellington.

“Happy congratulations on your 300th issue and helping to keep Ipoh as an exotic tourist destination with lots of character and a very desirable place to live. Well done!”

Zaidi Hamzah, 57, from Kuala Kangsar told Ipoh Echo, “Every two weeks I will go to AEON Klebang to obtain a copy from the customer service counter. I like the Editor’s Desk article as it elaborates on current issues for one’s reference and knowledge. The Ipoh Echo is a platform for Ipoh residents to highlight their problems such as road hazard, mosquito breeding site and rubbish. It also highlights welfare programmes for the needy.”

 

Maria Mariani, a 48-year-old cook makes the Ipoh Echo her culinary reference. “The ‘On Ipoh Food’ and Nosh News are my go-to columns as they enable me to try out various unique food menus in Ipoh. I look forward to highlights on Malay traditional cuisines as they are a favourite for all ethnicities,” she opined.

Nachemutu Karappanam, a regular reader, shared, “It is an interesting local newspaper with lots of information related to the community. I really appreciate the service and work of the Ipoh Echo team in bringing awareness among Perakeans. Local issues which are highlighted have been brought to the attention of authorities concerned to solve the problem very effectively. I would urge students to read the informative newspaper to improve their language and knowledge of Perak.”

Retired teacher now social activist, S. Sundralingam, has this to say: “Congratulations to Ipoh Echo on occasion of the publication of its 300th issue. The paper plays an important role in creating a functioning democratic society. I like to thank its team of dedicated reporters for reaching out to us through the paper. Your news coverage is not only extensive but refreshing, especially on food and the local political scene. My sincere wishes.”

 

Lawmakers

M. Kula Segeran, Minister of Human Resources. “I have been an avid reader of Ipoh Echo since it was first published in July 2006. Ipoh Echo is the only community newspaper in the country and I am proud that its origin is from my hometown of Ipoh. What makes it more appealing is my connection with the people behind the paper, per se. The pioneers, late Dato’ KK Lim, late P. Sivapragasam were my friends, and Fathol Zaman and Siva were with me in Ipoh City Watch and we more or less ‘grew up with the paper’. On a more personal note, Ipoh Echo has provided me with a platform to propagate my ministerial duties and was among the first of the print media to interview me.”

Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, Perak State Executive Councillor for Education, Environment, Green Technology and Information. “I have been following Ipoh Echo and I find it very informative. Despite the fact that we have become more and more wired, so to speak, Ipoh Echo still has a role to play. Ipoh Echo binds members of the Ipoh community and gives them a certain amount of identity and a sense of belonging. Keep up and preserve.”

Ipoh Councillor Chan Kok Keong:  Ipoh Echo is Ipoh in conversation. Sometimes, I struggle to put in a word or two in edgeways. Like when the Perak Academy wants to publicise its talk on Spinoza.

It is very regrettable whenever anyone laments the huge brain drain from Ipoh since Merdeka!

Ipoh’s reputation as the cleanest town in Malaysia was too short-lived after the abolition of local government elections. But magnificent buildings like St Michael’s, an imposing Town Hall and the great Ipoh Railway Station remain as proud reminders of a glorious past.

Today, the Ipoh Echo is indispensable in the discourse to decide the way forward for the town that tin built. As long as there is Ipoh, may the Ipoh Echo play the role of saviour and sentinel.

I look forward to the next 300 issues and hope I can read it weekly instead of fortnightly!