Han Chin Pet Soo is open! Book now at www.ipohworld.org/reservation
Han Chin Pet Soo is open! Book now at www.ipohworld.org/reservation

November 2009

Capitan Ah Kwee – Leader of the Hai San Secret Society

By |2009-11-30T13:46:52+08:00November 30th, 2009|Categories: People|Tags: , , , |

This photograph hangs on the wall in a Gopeng Association House. It is of course of Capitan Chung Ah Kwee.

Chung Ah Kwee was born as a Chen Sang Hakka in Guandong Province, China. In his late teens, he was sent to Malaya by his mother, to look for his father and brother. Ah Kwee found his brother in Larut as a wealthy and well known man known as Lui Kung Seng  (God of Thunder Seng). Ah Kwee later became the head of the Hai San Secret Society and led the first batch of Chinese miners to work at Long Jaafar’s mine in Klian Pauh in 1848. Tensions arose between the Hai Sans and Ghee Hins who were mining at Klian Bharu (Kamunting). War ensued between these two secret societies and was only stopped by Captain Tristam Speedy.

Captain Speedy made the Hai Sans work the mines and live in Klian Pauh which he later renamed Taiping, (everlasting peace). The Ghee Hins meanwhile were given Kamunting and mined a less richer area. Capitan Ah Kwee practically became the founder of Taiping and owner of the largest alluvial mine in the world employing 5000 coolies. He died at his residence in Penang on 13th December 1901 and his personal estate in Penang alone amounted to seven million Straits dollars.

Heritage Horror

By |2009-11-29T05:30:49+08:00November 29th, 2009|Categories: ipoh|Tags: , , , |

I am sure that all Kinta Valley readers will recognise this bit of heritage that has become a potential horror so close to the Ipoh – Gopeng Trunk Road. Yes, it is Kampong Kepayang and the road is indeed the Gopeng Road up and down which traffic thunders daily. What is more these buildings and several others in the row are in danger of falling into the road and killing some passing motorist (shades of Fair Park’s recent tragedy).

Now this is not a new situation and the photograph was taken some two years ago, but passing the site yesterday and with the Fair Park incident in mind, I noticed that the situation was much the same as it was when the photograph was taken, although of course inevitable further deterioration has taken place.

This little Kampung, two rows of houses close to the road (and in which some families still live), with an old traditional mosque at one end, could have been a nice little heritage enclave . Making it such has been talked about many times by those in authority, but as usual nothing happened. Of course it would have needed to be pedestrianised  with a by-pass and that would have been costly, but looking at how much gets spent on trivia, it would not have been wasted.

But what about today, clearly there are only two options – Save it or Destroy it. What do you think should be the way ahead? Whatever is decided it must be done quickly to prevent another disaster.

For the ‘Mat-Rockers’ of the 80s!

By |2009-11-24T02:52:22+08:00November 24th, 2009|Categories: Identify Photographs, Memories|Tags: , |

This is the S.M. Noor Recreation Park, in Batu Gajah, Perak. This picture was taken from a 1985 Calendar.

From what we’ve found out, this place used to be one of the concert venues for local rock bands like Search, Wings, Lefthanded, May, Headwind, and so on. (The other venues around Ipoh being the Indera Mulia Stadium and Medan Gopeng). These crowd pulling concerts were at the badminton hall (not seen in the picture). Sadly, the place has now been abandoned and the only ‘visitors’ seem to be the over grown grass.

We would like to hear from any of the ‘Mat Rockers’ out there, who were once part of the concert crowd. Do share with us your memories: the ‘big’ hair, the black leather pants, etc. Ah, the 1980s……!

The Gopeng Coolie Lines

By |2009-11-22T03:35:48+08:00November 22nd, 2009|Categories: Museums|Tags: , , |

This picture was taken a little over a year ago and shows the original accommodation for the tin mining coolies, known as the “Coolie Lines”. Here the coolies would eat and sleep when they were not slaving in the mines or visiting those places of entertainment in the town that provided either female company for a short while (!) or total relaxation “smoking the pipe”. Either way their hard earned-company tokens in which they were paid would be soon spent.

The mine itself was just a few metres above them, dug out of the hill upon which, at one time, the Government Rest House stood. But such was the power of the riches of tin, even that had to give way to the inevitable once prospectors found tin in its compound. Clearly a case of MCA, Money Conquers All.

The coolie lines were sited, not only close to the mine, but also in the middle of the British officers’ bungalows, on the hill overlooking the town. No doubt that was an unpopular move with the “Mem-saabs” at the time  (Mem-saabs or Mem-sahibs was the form of respectful address for a European woman in Colonial times.) who would have felt in danger of their lives with these “natives” living so close by.

But now to the point of this post. Gopeng recently hit the world with its new museum and also floated the idea of a heritage town. What a great idea! Now, if the coolie lines are still standing (the photo is over a year old) they are large enough to provide space for a tin mining museum or gallery, something the Kinta Valley should have. So come on Gopeng, you have led the way in Perak with your museum, why not show Ipoh and the rest of the state what you can really do by starting our much needed Kinta Tin Mining Heritage Museum. 

Ipoh – When Tin was King!

By |2010-01-16T05:04:34+08:00November 19th, 2009|Categories: Books, ipoh|Tags: , , |

“Tin gave Ipoh more millionaires than any other town; it gave her confidence and vibrancy; it gave her a soul”

As the author puts it, this book tells the story of “Ipoh’s Golden Age” which present-day folk “take pride in”. Launched yesterday, this book is written by Dr Ho Tak Ming featuring a foreword by Emeritus Professor Dr Wang Gungwu. ‘Ipoh When Tin was King’ is published by the Perak Academy. It is available at the Perak Academy office and leading bookstores. The official price is RM120, but I believe a discount of RM20 is available if you buy at the office.

I am advised by Dr Ho that overseas customers, or those who cannot obtain the book (ISBN 978-983-42500-2-7)  in their local bookshops, should write to his agent Mr. Steven Yong of Horizon Books email address steven_horizon@wismaytt.com and he will make arrangements to send the book to you.

Tilley Oil Lamp

By |2009-11-21T00:52:31+08:00November 19th, 2009|Categories: ipoh, Museums|Tags: , , |

Known as the Tilley F L 6 Floodlight Projector, this kerosene lamp was used in underground mining in the New Lahat Mine Sdn Bhd  during the 20th century. One wonders how did the miners use the lamp, since it looks bigger and heavier, compared to some other oil lamps.

This type of lamp dates from before the last war and had many uses apart from mining as it was a very powerful floodlight. It was used, for example, by the army to search for low flying aircraft as well as general floodlighting for disasters where it could floodlight a large area or send a beam for up to pne quarter of a mile. We also believe that in the height of the tin production it was also used in open-cast mines to allow the coolies to work through the night.

You  can visit the Perak Museum in Ipoh to view this artifact.

New Heritage Map/Brochure of Ipoh Old Town

By |2009-11-18T02:39:52+08:00November 18th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town|Tags: , |

This is the latest map/brochure published by Myheritage Technovation Sdn Bhd in collaboration with Perak Academy and Kinta Heritage Group. Inside is a basic map of Ipoh Old Town outlining a two-hour heritage trail as well as short write-ups about the 24 heritage buildings on the trail.

Also featured is a brief history of Ipoh Town, Panglima Lane (Concubine Lane) and a guide of Ipoh’s Living Heritage – our well-known cuisines – something food lovers will enjoy!

Privately sponsored by a public-minded citizen of Ipoh, copies of this brochure can be obtained free of charge at the Perak Academy office, the Railway Station, leading hotels, and Tourist Information Centers.

A Soldier’s Life was Not a Happy One in the Malayan Jungle 1956

By |2009-11-15T23:57:06+08:00November 15th, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , |

A member of 2nd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment recorded a night out in the jungle thus:

“Leeches that sucked the blood and covered the body were so prevalent one eventually ignored them, it was not unusual to find 50 or more in all parts of the body.  

Vicious red ants, scorpions and ticks big enough to put a pull through, through a .303 although apart from green harmless tree snakes I saw only two, a Cobra in a base hut at Kuala Kangsar where every one left by the same door and windows at the same time and a python that crawled over Private Jack Tolliday in the night when he was asleep in the jungle mud hole, he thought he had dreamed it but in the morning I confirmed that it actually happened.”

The photograph (and I did not count the leeches) actually came from a soldier in the 3rd Battalion of the same regiment in 1958. Clearly the leeches enjoyed Australian blood!

The Memorial Park Anderson Road c1962

By |2009-11-18T02:45:46+08:00November 13th, 2009|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh|Tags: , , |

This is a postcard featuring the Memorial Park. In the centre is a fountain, which seems to have attracted the attention of those two individuals on the left of it.

On the plaque (centre, bottom) are the words “Memorial Park, 1948-1960”. From this, we understand that this was a remembrance of the Malayan Emergency and those who fell during those difficult times. The park was almost certainly part of the Children’s Playground, which is along Anderson Road.

If anyone out there who has been to the park, or perhaps lived nearby the park, do share your fond memories with us.

Path of the Righteous Crane – The Life & Legacy of Eu Tong Sen

By |2009-11-10T02:11:52+08:00November 10th, 2009|Categories: Books|Tags: , , |

This book is said to be the first official biography of one of Asia’s well-known figures – Eu Tong Sen. Written by Ilsa Sharp, Eu Tong Sen’s story is told based on extentive research. As Sharp herself explains, “This is no ordinary tale of a towkay who just struck it rich”.

Our copy of this book was purchased at Select Bookstore in Singapore. Those interested could probably enquire about this book at the local bookstores – the ISBN number is as follows:
ISBN 981-4189-22-7

And Now One for the Cinema Buffs

By |2009-11-09T15:48:58+08:00November 9th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , , |

This is Ipoh’s Cathay Theatre which still stands to day, but no longer as a cinema having been overtaken by Metroplexes and the like. It was once a beautiful single-screen theatre, built in Cockman Street in late 1956 and opened on August 31, 1957 with the movie, ‘The King and I’, telling the fictitious romantic story of Anna Leonowens and the King of Siam. At that time the 3rd Class seats (front rows downstairs) cost 60cents per ticket, while 2nd Class further back cost around $1.20. 1st Class upstairs (mainly for Europeans or VIPs) cost $2.

However, this picture above is a little strange for there is still waste ground opposite the theatre, but the posters are all torn, yet it must still have been a working theatre as it is advertising Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in the Paramount Picture “Pardners” which dates it as not long after the opening in 1957/58. Does anyone have any ideas as to when the buildings opposite were built?

Perak’s Heritage is Sinking Fast

By |2009-11-06T15:42:23+08:00November 6th, 2009|Categories: Perak heritage Society|Tags: , |

Perak Heritage Society
theStar today
highlights the dangerous tilt of
the dredge TT5 in Tanjong Tualang,
“Perak’s heritage dredge”.
Now, national interest is piqued.
As the pontoon which floats the dredge is leaking,
its private management company is 
experiencing maintenance and financial problems.
As a result, TT5 may simply fall over.
It threatens to collapse into a twisted mess of steel. 
 That’s complete destruction of this industrial heritage! 
 Come learn about the history of TT5 and
the unpublished fact on the dredge’s deterioration and
the hands which failed.
Mr Stephen Ng, manager ofTT5,
will be present at our briefing to answer your questions.
can anyone else come along?
Do invite members of PHS you are in touch with.
who else?
Anyone who has an interest in saving the dredge

for its significance to Perak heritage.
Non-members and heritage-friendly people are welcome.
how to spread the news?
 Circulate this NOTICE with discretion.
 The PHS Office has a limited seating capacity of 30.
For RSVP: see below. 

Saturday, Nov 7, 2009: 2.30 pm
PHS Office
 85C Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil, Ipoh (opposite the Syuen)
If you wish to but cannot attend the briefing,
please SMS or email me with your messages of support.
Thank you for supporting Perak Heritage Society. 
Law Siak Hong

Photographer Risks Life and Limb in Ipoh

By |2016-06-15T12:08:38+08:00November 6th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , , , , |

Well he would be in danger if he was to try and take the same photograph today as he was standing in the centre of the Birch Bridge in Brewster Road, but of course in 1952 life was different in Ipoh, Brewster Road took two-way traffic and as you can see the road is almost empty. Compare that to today if you will.

But as you can see, despite the fact that the photograph has suffered with age, there were so many trees, big trees not some miniatures, overtrimmed, dusty and dry that we are so used to today. Also, some of today’s buildings have not yet been built and the Odeon Theatre stands out in the distance.

Incidentally, the Odeon Theatre in Ipoh seated 850 on its main floor and in the balcony and was built in the 1930’s. Triangular in shape it is adjacent to St Michael’s Cemetery and like the Rex Theatre, Ipoh, rumours of ghostly happenings, spooks and terrifying visions abound. One popular rumour was that if you ever took off your shoes inside, you would never find them when the light came on – even if nobody had sat in front, behind or next to you.

The theatre closed in 1986 and several nightclubs have tried to make a success of it but either because of bad ‘feng shui’ or the ghosts, they have all failed. Today it stands as a marker of failure and ready for demolition unless some serious entrepreneur is prepared to try and change the building’s luck.

Ipoh’s Wonders in Print!

By |2009-11-05T13:01:26+08:00November 5th, 2009|Categories: Books, Heritage Books, Natural Heritage|Tags: , , , , |

‘Limestone Hills & Caves of the Kinta Valley’ is the latest publication by the Malaysian Nature Society. Inside are astonishingly beautiful pictures by Cheang Kum Seng, paying tribute to Mother Nature. Written by SL Wong, this book is a “tribute to that rare beauty [limestone hills and caves]” and at the same time encourages the reader to preserve “our precious heritage”.

More information about the book can be obtained from:
Malaysia Nature Society
JKR 641 Jalan Kelantan
Bukit Persekutuan
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : +603 – 2287 9422
Fax: +603 – 2287 8773
email: mns@mns.org.my

“…with fond memories…”

By |2009-11-02T06:38:46+08:00November 2nd, 2009|Categories: Identify Photographs, Memories|Tags: , |

This photograph was taken around the 14th of January 1953 by Himalaya Photo Studio, of No.117, Brewster Road, Ipoh.

On the back of the photograph are Chinese characters which roughly translate to “Yuen Seng to Qing Er, with fond memories”. We guess that this was probably taken after a dance competition – note the trophies and the dress code. But we could be wrong though. Anyone with further information, do let us know.

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