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.