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July 2009

Centre Of Attraction

By |2009-07-31T05:25:33+08:00July 31st, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , , |

The 11th Independent Field Squadron Royal Engineers was building a bridge in a kampung, in 1958, as one of their Malayan Emergency operations in Taiping. The villagers were looking on curiously, wondering what was going on.

Nothing has changed in 50 years – Malaysians still love to watch what is happening, particularly road traffic accidents of which we have far too many.

Taiping, 1958

By |2009-07-31T05:31:58+08:00July 30th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , |

 The picture shows an old , open cast, tin mine in Taiping during 1958. We are wondering what had happened to this mine. Can you help us ?

The scene is of course very typical of an abandoned mine with the mine itself now full of water and the sheds falling down. However the Palong still stands proud against the skyline.

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones

By |2009-07-28T12:40:45+08:00July 28th, 2009|Categories: Museums|Tags: , , |

Just a set of bones, but a very important set at that! For this is Perak man. The oldest skeleton found in the Peninsula so far. He is believed to be a male (but the experts are not absolutely sure) with a height of approximately 157cm, aged about 45. It was discovered in 1991 and the skeleton has been dated to around 11,000 years old.

There were two significant facts about thisskeleton. The first was that he had a malformed left hand, meaning his left arm and hand were much smaller compared to his right arm and hand. This deformity could be from a genetic disorder known as ‘brachymesophalangia’. This evidence is further supported by the fact that his spine is curved towards the right due to living with only one good hand. The second interesting fact about the Perak Man was that despite his handicap, he lived to be about 45. This is considered a ripe old age for his time period. And especially when you consider that he might have been a hunter-gatherer, with only one good hand you can’t really hunt or gather very well and so living to 45 with that kind of handicap is pretty exceptional.

Why not drop in to Lenggong and say hello to him sometime!

1948 Was a Year to Remember

By |2009-07-28T01:28:35+08:00July 27th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , |

Most people remember 1948 as the start of the Emergency, but this envelope from Ipoh’s Station Hotel reminds us about something else. We were under British Colonial Rule; The British Military Administration was not long gone (and we were still using their stamps); and we were celebrating the Silver Wedding of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. No doubt there would have been grand celebrations on the Padang. Does anyone have any photographs or memories of that day?

Bull Elephant Versus Train Ends in 0-0 Draw

By |2009-07-26T02:28:27+08:00July 26th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , |

This grand old picture dates from 1894 when a bull elephant gallantly refused to move off the rail tracks, close to Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan) in defence of his herd against what he saw as an intruder into his domain. Unfortunately the train, which had previously killed a calf elephant in the same place, was doing some 80 kilometres per hour and the driver could not stop in time. The two therefore met head on.

The net result was one dead elephant, three coaches derailed and two dead railway workers who died from their injuries sometime later. A number of businesspeople and other passengers were also injured.

This event is marked by a signboard at the spot of the collision, erected by the British Government.

Mao Zedung Receives Chin Peng, March 1965

By |2009-07-23T11:41:50+08:00July 23rd, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , |

Although this meeting in Beijing is not directly related to Perak, it is a fact that it was Perak in particular that continued to suffer from the communists for several years after the Malayan Emergency was declared over.

As there has been much press about Chin Peng recently, I thought a picture of him might be appropriate.

Sungai Siput Memorial Board: Is it o’K’ to have ‘T’ea?

By |2009-07-31T10:08:08+08:00July 22nd, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , |

Two memorial boards can be seen at the entrance of Elphil Estate and Sungai Siput Estate (which was formerly known as Phin Soon Estate) with the details of the tragic murders on 16 June 1948. A good intention.

But it’s so sad to see the board at the Elphil Estate. The name of the planter, Mr. A.E Walker was mispelled as A.E Walter. It seems that the person who was in charge of putting up the board, didn’t care much about the history which led to the Malayan Emergency.With this major error, definitely will mislead the readers in future about what actual had happened especially the person who was murdered.

An Important Street in Ipoh in 1950

By |2009-07-22T00:35:25+08:00July 21st, 2009|Categories: Identify Photographs, Ipoh Town, Museums, What is it?|Tags: , |

This photograph came with the caption “An important street in Ipoh in 1950”.

However we cannot name it nor decide why it is said to be important. Can you?

Don’t be shy just drop us a line by clicking om “Leave a comment” under these words. We guarantee not to use your email for any purpose. We simply ask for it to try and cut down on all the automatic spam we receive.

1960’s Aerial View of Old Town, A Green and Pleasant Place

By |2009-07-22T04:51:15+08:00July 17th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town|Tags: , , , |

This divided back, unused, card from Airfoto is centred on the Perak State Mosque with the Railway Station clearly visible between it and the limestone hills which form the backdrop against a brilliant blue sky.

The amazing thing about this picture is just what a beautiful and green city Ipoh was in the 1960’s. In every direction from the mosque there can be seen grassy spaces and an abundance of trees. Take for example the Birch Memorial Clock tower just to the right of the mosque. It stands surrounded by nature’s greenery, open to view and a magnificent memorial to the first British Resident of Perak who was murdered by the Malays. Whatever your politics or your opinion of J W W Birch there is no doubt that this environment was far superior to today’s, hemmed in as the clock tower is by a scruffy food centre that replaced the trees (behind which the old Post Office nestled) and surrounded by hard landscaping and litter rather than well tended grass.

But not only the clock tower’s environment has worsened but a comparison against today’s Ipoh also demonstrates that there has been a general decline in the environment across the City. How on earth did we, the citizens of Ipoh allow this?

The Malaysian Palm Oil Association Memorial Project at Sungei Siput

By |2009-09-15T01:25:56+08:00July 16th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , |

Something we want bring to your attention.  The following is an extract from a notice posted by the MPOA.

….the Malaysian Palm Oil Association – Perak have decided to construct a monument and gallery at Sungei Siput Estate.

The cost of construction is estimated to be in the region of RM$100,000.00. The little Acre Sub Committee hopes to raise sufficient funds from voluntary donations from their members, other well-wishers and Corporations, so that the monument and the gallery can be built in good time to enable participants and supporters of their next Commemorative Ceremony can make arrangements to visit the ‘Historical Site’.

The main purposes of the Memorial project are :

  • To commemorate those planters, miners, police personnel, Australian British and Commonwealth troops who rallied to the support of ‘Malaya’ / ‘Malaysia’ to curb and eradicate the CT menace- many making the supreme sacrifice in the course of their duty.
  • To preserve this place of deep historical interest for the benefit of posterity.
  • To provide and preserve historical information / records / (photographs) about the Malayan Emergency (1948 – 1960).

Donations should be forwarded direct to –

The MPOA – Perak Secretary, Mrs Tan Seow Peng, 7 Jalan Hussein (P.O Box 424), 30750 Ipoh, Perak Darul Ridzuan, Malaysia.

How Others See Us – Ipoh as Described By Lonely Planet 17 February 2009

By |2009-07-14T13:38:33+08:00July 14th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town|Tags: , |

How Others See Us. Below is a true copy of Lonely Planet’s latest report on Ipoh.

 Check it out if you don’t believe me. We simply added the red highlighting.

For the visitor, Ipoh is mainly a transit town, a place where you change buses if you’re heading for Pulau Pangkor or the Cameron Highlands. However, the grand colonial architecture of the ‘Old Town’ west of the Sungai Kinta (Kinta River) is well worth exploring and gives a good impression of just how wealthy and important this city once was.

At the end of the 19th century, the city expanded east over the river into the ‘New Town’, which, with its chaotic traffic and mix of crumbling Chinese shophouses and ugly modern blocks, holds less appeal. This is a generally dingy part of town, with a notorious prostitution problem and no real attractions. However, for those who do decide to stay longer, Ipoh makes the perfect base for discovering outlying sights such as the Buddhist cave temples, the royal town of Kuala Kangsar and Kellie’s Castle.

Last updated: 17-Feb-2009

Does that make you feel proud of your hometown?

Perhaps the Datuk Bandar would like to comment!

Panglima Lane, Ipoh, 1947

By |2009-07-13T13:31:13+08:00July 13th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town|Tags: , , , |

Although so far nobody has commented on our earlier blog about the disgraceful state of Panglima Lane today, I thought that you might like to see what it should look like.

This picture although of poor quality shows just how well looked after, clean and tidy the Lane used to be. Obviously the owners had pride in their possessions back then, which it seems they do not have now. Why is that?

Could it be that all they care about is increasing their bank balance at the expense of their environment? I do hope not for that to me sounds the death knell for us all if all we care about money. If not, then does anyone have another answer to why our city is continuing to deteriorate?

Centre Point, God’s Little Acre

By |2009-07-12T09:52:43+08:00July 12th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , , |

If we go to  God’s Little Acre, Batu Gajah, definitely we won’t miss out to see a tall monument called ‘Centre Point’. The ‘Centre Point’ was erected in 17th June 1989 by the Perak Planters’ Association and other well wishers, to honour the planters, the miners, the Malayan Police Force, the Commonwealth Forces and the general public who gave their lives during the Malayan Emergency, 1948-1960. It was first used at the 10th Remembrance Day Ceremony. Every year, it becomes the main venue on which the wreath-laying ceremony  is focussed.


By |2009-07-12T10:02:33+08:00July 12th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town|Tags: , |

 The local government system was introduced into Malaya before the end of the 19th century, after the system showed a tremendous development in United Kingdom. In United Kingdom, the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601 become the initial step towards the local government establistment. This law required the local community to look into the problems of protection, health, drainage and other important issues that were needed to form a good township. And it was the first move by a central government to grant delegated authority to a local body.

The local government at Ipoh was established in March 1893, when the Ipoh Sanitary Board was formed. The Ipoh Sanitary Board was set up by Frank Swettenham, the British Resident during his visit to the district at the beginning of the year. At this time, the population in Ipoh reached up to 11,000 as reported by Leech, the District Magistrate. The Ipoh Sanitary Board, a council, comprising officials and unofficials, was responsible for cleanliness and hygiene of the town. It was the first of its kind in Kinta Valley, although there was a similar board in Taiping earlier. The success of the Ipoh Sanitary Board led to the formation of similar bodies in Gopeng and Batu Gajah in 1894. From 1893-1897, it covered a huge area of Lahat, Menglembu and Ipoh itself. In 1897, it was replaced by the Kinta Sanitary Board. The biggest achievement by the board, was the installation of a gigantic septic tank in 1905, which was the first of its kind in Malaya. Besides that, the board also succeeded in taking effective measures to secure proper ventilation of houses, adequate backlanes spaces between buildings, and the removal of unsafe and unhealthy dwellings throughout the Kinta District.

However, in 1905, the Board was split up into two; Kinta Sanitary Board North in Ipoh and Kinta Sanitary Board South in Batu Gajah. It happened when Kinta Sanitary Board which was responsible for all the townships in Kinta District didn’t show much of a statisfactory improvement after its formation. But after 10 years, the both bodies were joined back together, due to economic turmoil, and it lasted till 1941. On 1st January 1956, Ipoh became a financially autonomous local authority, which means that the local authority can no longer expect any financial assistance from the state government, with a few exception.

As Ipoh becoming a big town, the degree of elected representation increased. In 1961, there were 18 elected councillors, compared to only 11 representatives in 1894. From the day of formation till 1956, the chairman’s post was given only to British origin senior staff. But in 1957, for the first time ever in Ipoh local government history, a Malay man, Enche Abdullah B. Udi elected as the Chairman of Ipoh Town Council (as it was called then). On 31st May 1962, Ipoh became a municipality, a title and recognition given by His Highness, the Sultan of Perak. ‘Till now, the Municipality of Ipoh is still bringing in various developments to Ipoh, making her one of the well developed towns in the country.

Taiping Club’s Jungle Swimming Pool, 1959

By |2009-07-11T05:45:56+08:00July 11th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , |

This picture shows three “young at heart” Europeans enjoying the slide into the top pool of three that made up the Taiping Club’s swimming pool in the 1950s. It is still there but sadly overgrown and in a serious state of disrepair. Of course the club now has a new pool.

A user of the pool in 1959, Isobel Hatherley, recalls:

 “This afternoon we went to the Taiping Swimming Club – very different from Ipoh. It is quite a drive up the hill through the jungle to a delightful waterfall that feeds the baths. It is much more primitive than Ipoh, with rather murky looking water, but it is really cold and refreshing, whereas at Ipoh the water is usually tepid. I had decided to give up swimming when we left Ipoh, but there were so few people up there I couldn’t resist it.”

Does anyone out there have more memories of this unique recreational facility?

More information about the pool may be found on our database.

A Message from the Editor of the Ipoh Echo

By |2009-07-09T06:21:48+08:00July 9th, 2009|Categories: ipoh|Tags: , , , |

For those of you interested in what’s happening in your local Ipoh community and if you’d like to receive the Ipoh Echo in your email inbox, you can now do so by subscribing online at: http://www.ipohecho.com.my/

IT’S FREE and the site has recently been  upgraded for higher interactivity.

One of the subsequent benefits which will be activated later in our on-line efforts is that you’ll be receiving announcements for events way before the paper gets to either your snail mail box or even your email inbox.

And remember that the Ipoh Echo is YOUR community paper. If you have any announcements that require broadcasting to the community at large (public service ones) just send them to: email: ipohecho.vw@gmail.com

We will do our utmost to disseminate them.

The Editor, Ipoh Echo Sdn Bhd

ipohWorld blogger says: “We strongly recommend the Ipoh Echo as a very worthwhile read. As well as local news and events, often not published elsewhere, it runs regular heritage stories and draws attention to the deplorable state of much of Perak’s heritage. Don’t wait! Subscribe online now at http://www.ipohecho.com.my/.”




Lorong Panglima, On the Ipoh Heritage Trail!

By |2009-07-06T06:20:07+08:00July 6th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town|Tags: , , , , |

In December last year there was a revelation by the Datuk Bandar, Ipoh, that the legendary tunnel under the Ipoh Town Hall, which is said to join the Railway Station to the High Court and the Police Station (the latter being most unlikely) was to be investigated. Indeed, not only investigated, but opened to the public as part of a historical trail that would take-in parts of Old Town as well, including Lorong Panglima (aka Second Concubine Lane). Not surprisingly nothing has been heard since, but maybe the new Firefly flight schedule from Singapore that starts on 12 July will bring in some tourists and spur the City and State Governments to actually follow this up and smarten up our city for it certainly needs some smartening up!

A case in point is the above photograph of Panglima Lane taken just one week ago. Surely we are not going to allow our tourists to see what states of delapidation our heritage sites have fallen into!

Or are we?


An Aerial View of Chamberlain Road, Ipoh c1975

By |2009-07-28T06:13:40+08:00July 5th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town|Tags: , , |

We are grateful to Ramesh who has lent us this photograph so that we may share it with you.

The photograph shows Chamberlain Road, Ipoh with Jalan Bendahara at the bottom left, joining Chamberlain at the roundabout. Apart from the Sri Maju Bus Company replacing the Palm Trees, bottom left, with their vehicles in 1978 not too much else has changed. The Majestic Cinema is hidden among the trees on the right.

On the reverse of the card is a message in traditional Chinese characters which reads:

“Ipoh Town. Given to my friend Siong Ling wishing her Happy Living from Pei Yuan.”

Chamberlain Road (As described by S Durai Raja Singam in 1939)
(From Junction of Jalan Masjid and Anderson Road to Chung Thye Pin Road).

This road made in 1907/08; is named after the late Right Hon Joseph Chamberlain M P, father of the present Prime Minister of England, Mr Neville Chamberlain. A Radical politician, Mayor of Birmingham (1873-1876) Secretary of State for Colonies in the Coalition Government. In 1906, he withdrew from public life on account of ill health. First Chancellor of Birmingham University. He died on July 2nd 1914.

Sir Frank Swettenham in his “British Malaya” says “I am responsible for the Malay States lines, with the exception of the eight miles branch in Larut, from Taiping to Port Weld, and the twenty-four miles branch in Sungei Ujong, from Seremban to Port Dickson (which was built by and belongs to a private Company) and I may recall the fact that when I first recommended the construction of the Province Wellesley line, it was disapproved. But when I again repeated all the arguments in favour of the work and pressed to be allowed to undertake it, Mr Chamberlain, then Secretary of State for Colonies, gave his sanction on the ground that, if the value of a great work could be satisfactorily demonstrated, the sooner it was taken in hand the better. Mr Chamberlain is one of the few public men who realize this principle.

Nothing is as common as to express great interest in a new proposal, great sympathy and even high approval: but when it involves the expenditure of money, the running of risk, the acceptance of responsibility, enthusiasm for the scheme is not only tempered, but often entirely counteracted, by the decision to put off its accomplishment to the Greek Kalends.” Before the departure of Sir Cecil C Smith, Sir Frank Sweetenham had drawn up a scheme for the Federation of the Malay States and submitted it to him. This proposal was forwarded to the Secretary of State and Sir Charles Mitchell recommended that is the Malay rulers favoured the proposal, the Federation should be adopted. Mr Chamberlain, the Secretary of State for the Colonies approved of this.

Sir Frank visited the several States explained the scheme very fully to the Malay Rulers and British Residents and secured the written consent of the Rulers. That the Institute for Medical Research owes its being to Mr Joseph Chamberlain, was stated by Dr A Neave Kingsbury, Director of the Institute, at the opening of the sixth international course in malariology.

Mr Chamberlain, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, was instrumental in sending to Kuala Lumpur a research worker to investigate the cause of beri-beri, which was then a most serious disease among the Chinese, said Dr Kingsbury. “Our foundation,” he continued, “antidates all other institutes in British Colonies and Protectorates. Today, the senior staff numbers no less than 16, and we like to think that we have not altogether lost our original start.”

Matang Mangrove Forest and the Charcoal Factory

By |2009-07-03T11:00:51+08:00July 3rd, 2009|Categories: Natural Heritage|Tags: , , , |

Mangrove forests are one of the Earth’s most rapidly disappearing ecosystems. These coastal forests, with trees adapted to growing in salty soil and water, protect coastlines from erosion and are a natural barrier to strong coastal storms and tsunamis. The tangled root systems are a nursery for shrimp and many species of fish that go on to live their adult lives in the open ocean, while also acting as a home for many types of birds and often a resting place for migratory flocks.

Close to Kuala Sepetang (formerly known as Port Weld, site of Malaya’s first railway) is the Matang Mangrove Forest, the largest example in West Malaysia, covering some 40,000 hectares.  Divided by seven major estuaries and with five small fishing villages inside it, it was designated as a Permanent Forest Reserve in 1906.  Intensively managed by the Forestry Department with a 30-year rotation cycle it produces trees for charcoal and construction poles without reducing its effectiveness as a home for wildlife and a natural barrier for the coast, while providing a variety of employment for local people.

One such employment opportunity is a family run charcoal factory located right in the heart of the mangrove forest.  This enterprise is run by Mr. Chuah Chow Aun and his younger brother, the second generation of the family which has owned the business since the 1930’s.  He has around 80 workers and 100 kilns.  Charcoal production here continues in much the same way as it has for almost 80 years with no modern machinery, almost everything being done manually.

The process of producing charcoal has several stages: first the trees are harvested taking only those which are 30 years old or more where they will be replaced with new young trees.  Then at high tide they are loaded into small boats and shipped to the factory where they are stripped of their bark by hand.  Next they are carried to the kilns, shaped like igloos, which have been prepared for them by the kiln builder who simply uses his experience rather than drawings to complete his task.

Stood on end in the kiln with almost no space between them, the logs are heated by a roaring fire which brings up the inside of the kiln to about 220°C, at which temperature water starts to vaporise from the logs. This stage takes 8 to 10 days, the condition of the logs being judged by the feel of the smoke that comes out of the kiln.  When judged the right moment, the kiln is completely shut off and the baking process continues for another 12 to 14 days at a temperature of around 83°C. Then, with the fire no longer burning, the 8 day cooling process is started.

Once the kiln is opened, all the water should be vaporised out of the wood and the charcoal should look shiny black. The still-warm charcoal is carried out of the hot kiln and sorted, bagged by hand or delivered as whole logs. Most of the charcoal from Mr. Chuah’s factory is exported to Japan. The pieces that are not suitable for export are sold locally where it is believed to have healing properties and keep away mosquitoes.

This is a place well worth a visit for one never knows how long these old trades will continue, particularly when, like the charcoal factory, there is no mechanisation, everything being done the hard way, by hand!

A final thought, charcoal was once used instead of toothpaste! Ugh!


The Tambun Rock Paintings – Don’t We Care About Our Heritage?

By |2009-07-02T00:46:04+08:00July 2nd, 2009|Categories: ipoh, Memories|Tags: , , |

High on an abrupt limestone cliff near Ipoh, a whole series of rock paintings drawn with haematite paint were discovered in 1959 and are estimated to be between 5,000 to 12,000 years old!

They were discovered by an Englishman, one Lieutenant R L Rawlings, who was serving with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles as part of the Commonwealth Armed Forces’ presence in Malaya for the Malayan Emergency.  It was one of the most important historic discoveries in the country, in our opinion second only to the Perak Man.

Access to the paintings is not easy as there is no indication from the main road that they even exist; then the path is overgrown; the one signboard at the foot of the cliffs is rusting away; and the concrete steps, erected by the Museums Department are overgrown and slippery. However for the dedicated enthusiast access is just possible with care.

The paintings are situated on a wide ledge at the top of a steep slope, about 30 plus metres above the floor of Lembah Kinta on a smooth limestone cliff.  Some 6 metres or more above the ledge, there are a number of illustrations of wildlife, people and abstract designs. Some are quite small while some of the animals are more than one metre long.  We believe they are the first and only ancient rock paintings known in Malaysia. As ones eyes grew accustomed to the glare, it is obvious that the sunlight is fading the artwork while water has completely eroded some parts of the sketches.

In November 1959, J.M Matthews, an author in an issue of Malaya in History – Magazine of the Malayan Historical Society, wrote this description of the discovery: “The paintings are monochrome – indistinct. In some groups, the paint is dark purple, in others, dull red. Some of the figures are obviously men, rather crudely drawn. Some of the animals are easily identified, others are rather vague and imagination is needed for their representation”.

However we were still able to recognize most of the paintings; there are wild boars and a dugong, a tapir and deer. The latter are fascinating appearing as pregnant does, one with a small infant drawn inside its swollen frame. At one time, we are told, this gallery of paintings stretched for more than a hundred feet, but over the last 50 years most of it has disappeared.

However, there are still enough paintings to prove that long before the history of the Malay Peninsula was written, there were primitive men living in Lembah Kinta, who illustrated the environment surrounding them.

So why have they not been properly protected and controlled so that both Malaysians and Tourists can enjoy our unique piece of history? Clearly, only the appropriate government department could answer that!

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