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April 2010


By |2010-05-01T03:02:19+08:00April 30th, 2010|Categories: Memories, People|Tags: , , , |

In 1929 my dad was just a young lad of 9, staying in the little tin mining town of Batu Gajah. According to him, cinemas and televisions were unheard of then. Chinese operas (called tuk tuk chiang in Cantonese) were popular instead, especially during festivals, mostly held near the Kuan Ti Temple ground, near the Kinta River that flows along some small towns in Perak.But opera is heavy stuff, too boring for a kid of 9.

He preferred circus. Watching the trapeze swinging from bar to bar, the clowns with their funny antics and animals like elephants or tigers performing stunts kept him mesmerized. These circuses travel from town to town, performing to large crowds of young and old in huge tents.

So when he heard that a circus is coming to town, he was very excited and determined not to be left out. Having gathered a few equally enthusiastic boys, they cycled from their village to town to watch the circus.

The problem is, none have enough money in their pockets to buy a ticket each. But this does not deter them from having a jolly good time, because boys will always be boys!

Upon reaching the circus ground, dad began to hatch a devilish plan and whispered it into their ears. All understood and nodded approvingly. Halfway into the performance, these mischievous boys sprang into action.

One of them gathered some pebbles from the ground in his fist and creeping quietly from behind, threw them at the old fat guard sitting near the entrance of the tent. He was rudely awoken from his little nap.

Infuriated, the poor fellow gave chase and while the entrance was left unmanned, the rest of the boys would make a quick dash into the tent and assimilate into the crowd. The boy who threw pebbles would run off and disappear into the bushes, leaving the poor guard panting and swearing.

The same tactic is used the next night and the next. All the boys took turns to throw pebbles at the poor fellow while the rest ran inside and watched the circus without having to pay!

Some 70 years later as dad puts his little grandchildren on his lap and watches the circus together on TV, he would recall his juvenile folly and burst into a toothless laughter, tears streaming down his wrinkled cheeks.

Note: Sorry, I do not have a photo for this post.  As a little boy from a poor family, dad could not afford to buy a ticket, let alone own a camera to capture what he saw at the circus. 

Ipoh’s General Hospital

By |2010-04-30T07:10:58+08:00April 30th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , , |

The former Out Patient department of the Ipoh General Hospital. We think this picture was probably taken in the late 80s (if we’re wrong, let us know!). At present, this building has been given a more modern ‘make-over’.

Also notice in the background – far right, the Municipal building (Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh).

At the doorstep of hell….well,almost.

By |2010-07-04T00:53:33+08:00April 23rd, 2010|Categories: Memories, People|Tags: , , , |



As I was growing up, dad used to tell me about the Japanese atrocities. In his twilight years, while I was taking care of him, he told them to me all over again.

 When the Japanese came to Malaya in December 1941, dad was just a young man of 21, staying in Kampung Merantin, Batu Gajah, Perak. He was an apprentice in a workshop but war changed everything.

 The British had retreated and the locals were left to defend themselves against the aggressors. The men folk kept vigil at home while the women hid in the nearby jungle to escape from being rape by the soldiers.

One night, the Japanese came to his village and those nearby. Using loud hailers, they commanded all the young men in the villages to come out or else risk being shot at. These young men were then round up and marched to a field in nearby Changkat. They were made to stay there until dawn.

Early the next morning, they are told that some of them will be chosen and sent to help build the Burma Siam Railway at the Burmese border.

A Japanese soldier sat at the desk, handing out pieces of white papers to the young men. In these papers were written the word ‘Go’ while some were just blank. They were given out alternatively. Those who receive the paper with the word ‘Go’ were made to queue in a row ready to be on their way. Those who received the blank papers were to be sent back to their respective villages.

When it came to his turn to come forward to collect his paper, dad became very anxious and worried about his fate. He hesitated and paused for a moment. In a flash, a Japanese soldier was pointing his rifle at dad and the guy behind was barking furiously at him to hasten up. He even pushed dad violently forward.

Confused, dad quickly stepped aside and said,” If you are so impatient, why not you go first?”

Without a word, this guy just shoved dad aside and surged forward to collect his paper and his face turned pale. He got the paper with the word ‘Go’ which was actually meant for dad. And as for dad, he got the blank paper which was meant for that impatient guy.

Many of his friends went and as far as he knew, none came back. Some died from starvation or disease while many were tortured to death. Dad managed to earn another 66 years of life, succumbing to a bout of pneumonia at the age of 87 on 24th April 2007.

This piece is specially dedicated to my beloved dad,Yip Hee, may he rest in peace in Nirvana.

How ‘Majestic’ !

By |2010-04-23T03:43:50+08:00April 23rd, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , |

This art-deco styled cinema was designed by B M Iversen and built in the late 1940s. It was said to be a popular Chinese movie cinema, which later went on to show English, Malay, Hindi and Tamil movies in the 80s. The theatre finally closed in 1998. The elegent building now stands alone at Chamberlain Road.

This picture, of one of Iversen’s beauties, was taken in the 1970s – when the theatre was still in use.

A Page from the Past

By |2010-04-21T00:56:06+08:00April 21st, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town, People|Tags: , , , , |

This road block was at the junction of Brewster Road and Cockman Street. Judging from the uniforms, we think this happened in 1975 – if we’re wrong, let us know!

In the picture, there is the famous United Optical Company and the Ipoh branch of Straits Echo.

We’re looking forward to your comments…..

Daulat Tuanku

By |2010-04-20T14:06:56+08:00April 19th, 2010|Categories: People, Uncategorized|Tags: |

Heartiest Congratulations

Duli Yang Maha Mulia

Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah

Ibni Almarhum Sultan Yussuf Izzudin Shah


D.K., D.K.M., D.M.N., D.K.A.

Sultan, Yang Di-Pertuan Dan Raja Pemerintah

Negeri Perak Darul Ridzuan

On the occasion of His Royal Highness’ Birthday


World Heritage Day Sunday 18th April 2010

By |2010-04-17T14:41:05+08:00April 17th, 2010|Categories: ipoh, People|Tags: , , |

The International Day for Monuments and Sites (informally known as the World Heritage Day) was created on 18th April, 1982, by ICOMOS and later approved at the 22nd UNESCO General Conference in 1983. This special day offers an opportunity to raise public’s awareness concerning the diversity of the world’s heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it, as well as to draw attention to its vulnerability.

Casting our mind around Ipoh and its heritage of which we have so much – most of it vulnerable- we selected the cave paintings high up on the cliffs above the Tambun road as our item to draw attention to on this special day. The photograph shows just one of the drawings of animals and men.

At least 5000 years old and the finest set of prehistoric paintings in Malaysia they certainly need protection and conservation, but since they were discovered in 1959 they have been almost totally ignored by those who should care.

So today’s the day for you to do something about it. Raise a petition, write to your MP or draw attention in some other way to our failing to preserve this heritage. At present 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, but they won’t be there much longer unless drastic action is taken!

Do it now! Action speaks louder than words.

Remembering the Fallen Heroes

By |2010-04-16T11:08:11+08:00April 16th, 2010|Categories: ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , , |

In the month of June 2010, the Warriors’ Association, Kinta , Perak is organising a number of events in remembrance of those heroes who fell in defence of freedom and democracy. In chronological order they are:

Friday 11th June, 8:45 to 10:15am, Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph, Ipoh (opposite the railway station).

Saturday 12th June, 10:30am, Memorial Service for the Gurkhas that fell during the Malayan Emergency, at their cemetery in the 2nd Royal Rangers Regiment Camp, Kem Syed Putra, Tambun Road, Ipoh.

Saturday 12th June, 7:30pm, Troops Night Programme at the Royal Perak Golf Club, Ipoh.

Sunday 13th June, 9:00 to 11:00am, Remembrance service for those who gave their lives in the Battle of Kampar against the invading Japanese in WW2, at Khalsa Diwan Malaysia, Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, Ipoh.

Those who are interested in attending these functions may get further information from:

+6012 235 2557 (R. T. Pillay), email: rtpmani@streamyx.com

+6012 555 5585 (R. T. Pillay), email: prproject.kt@gmail.com

+605 527 6636 (Home)

Website: http://www.tpillay.com

IpohWorld Admin note: Please do not forget that the Malaysian Palm Oil Association, MPOA, will also be running their annual Commemorative Ceremony at God’s Little Acre, Batu Gajah on Saturday 12th June 2010 at 7:30am. This cemetery is the resting place of many of the expatriates who lost their lives during the Malayan Emergency (1948 to 1960). For those who also wish to honour the Gurkhas, there is plenty of time to attend both ceremonies. Details may be obtained from MPOA at +605 254 9582.

See you there!

A Motorcar Parade?

By |2010-04-16T10:09:40+08:00April 14th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

This fleet of motorcars were apparently on parade when this picture was taken. It was probably during the 10th Anniversary Celebrations of Ipoh’s Municipality. Leading the parade is a Ford Anglia, followed by a Morris Oxford and a BMC MIni.

Now, YOUR job is to guess the street! If you know more, do let us know too.

The Eastern Hotel

By |2010-04-12T08:27:15+08:00April 12th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , |

The location was good; at the heart of town, with neighbouring banks, theatres, commercial buildings and within easy communication. Back in the 70s, the room rates were quite affordable – $55 for a Twin-sharing De Luxe room! The air-conditioned rooms even had TV sets installed!

Besides the luxuries it offered, there was also a restaurant and dining room which served both Chinese and European food. I remember it as ‘Rondezvous’ and it was on the ground floor of the hotel. Last I checked, the restaurant was gone – anyone know what it’s called now?

D R Seenivasagam – The Man Who Fought for Justice

By |2010-04-12T12:56:11+08:00April 11th, 2010|Categories: Memories, People|Tags: , |

Andrew Lin, a new supporter of ipohWorld recently submitted an article for inclusion on the blog. However it is really too long to put here and so we have entered on the main database and have only included the following as an introduction. If you would care to read all the article and comment here after you have read it, please click on D R Seenivasagam here.  Incidentally we desperately need a better photograph of DR if anyone has one we could use.

I N   M E M O R I A M


The Man Who Fought For Justice

Last Monday, 15th March 2010 was the forty first anniversary of the passing of D.R.Seenivasagam, or DR as he was affectionately known, a great and illustrious son of Ipoh.  Sadly, the day passed by without any mention of the event in the obituary pages of our local newspapers.

To old-timers of Ipoh, Darma Raja Seenivasagam needs no introduction at all.    He was the President of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), one of the earliest political parties formed in pre-independent Malaya.   Under his leadership, the PPP captured control of the Ipoh Town Council, the forerunner to the Ipoh Municipal Council and later the Ipoh City Council, in 1958 and provided efficient local government for the people of Ipoh.   DR’s charisma and extraordinary ability to articulate the aspirations of the masses endeared him to all who came in contact with him – from the “towkay” to the coolie.    It is a well known fact that his most loyal supporters were the downtrodden of society namely the  hawkers, petty traders, trishaw peddlers, labourers  and others of the working class like the now-forgotten dulang washers.  These people remained faithful to DR to the end.

Unfortunately, those born after 1969 had grown up with little or no knowledge of the man who as the opposition Member of Parliament for Ipoh was a constant thorn in the side of the then ruling Alliance government.   DR was also an outstanding criminal lawyer in the country.     On several occasions, his brilliance and skill in the legal profession spared many on the wrong side of the law from the gallows.

As a mark of remembrance for this towering personality, I, a humble retired senior citizen from Kuala Lumpur and a one-time resident here, invite you, good readers, to join me in a trip down memory lane and together reminisce our impressions and thoughts of DR – the man who fought for justice.   Please share your insights with me so that the memory of this beloved leader who had done so much for Ipoh and its citizens will be perpetuated for our future generations.  This commentary is my own personal recollections and may contain inaccuracies of fact due to the passage of time, for which I sincerely apologize.   Feel free to correct any discrepancies, where necessary.   Some of the road names mentioned have since been changed and may be unfamiliar to some of us.

The article continues here

Ipoh’s ‘Tall Tower’!

By |2011-01-12T10:37:50+08:00April 9th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , |

This cinema was built in the 1930s, adjacent to a Christian graveyard – rumour has it that if you took off your shoes inside, you might not find them again when the lights come on! The picture shown here was taken in 1971, after the cinema was renovated.

I’m sure most of you know this Brewster Road cinema! Wonder what’s become of it now? After the fire in 2007, it seems to have just ‘stood still’……..

“..the way we were…”

By |2010-04-07T02:17:43+08:00April 7th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town, Memories, Natural Heritage|Tags: , , , |

Here’s a section of Ipoh Old Town, said to be taken from the top of the state mosque’s minaret. In the background (left) is the Ipoh Padang and a row of giant common ru. Further back, are the limestone hills – something Ipoh has always been noted for!

This was what the area used to look like, back in the early 1970s. Of course now, things have changed a bit – for better or worse, depends on personal opinion I suppose. But, from what we’ve discovered lately……the Birch Clock Tower has been painted pink!

Has anything else been ‘altered’ dramatically in this area?

The E W Birch Fountain

By |2010-04-05T07:36:57+08:00April 5th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , |

This all-marble fountain was built in memory of E W Birch, Perak’s British Resident from 1905-1910. It was at the south end of Belfield street – sadly, now another fountain has replaced this beauty!

We were once told by a senior resident of Ipoh, that during the Japanese Occupation the four corners of the fountain were ‘decorated’ with severed heads!

Also, later in 1957, the Town Council had a sign put up at the base – to prevent people from drying their laundry/chillies/and other such food stuff by the fountain!

Anybody out there have ‘other’ such memories of this fountain? I also wonder what’s become of the original marble fountain…….

It’s Qing Ming Tomorrow!

By |2010-04-04T10:23:55+08:00April 4th, 2010|Categories: Ipoh Town, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , , |

The Qing Ming Festival, the Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day is a traditional Chinese festival which falls on the first day of the fifth solar term. It denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime and tend to the graves of departed ones. This year it falls on 5 April – tomorrow.

Consequently we thought we should feature Ipoh’s most unusual grave, tucked in between MGS and a used car saleroom in Jalan Chamberlain Hulu, right in the middle of the city. But don’t worry for this has no bodies buried there nor spirits to wander in the dead of night for this is the Guandong Grave as the inscripion shows.

It reads “Worshipping altar of the Guandong grave” and was placed there to allow all the Chinese immigrants in Ipoh to pray to their ancestors as they could not do so at the graves in their home villages. The second inscription below (gold on grey) gives the history as being built during the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1878 to 1908). Consequently, when this grave was built there was no Ipoh New Town and it would have been among the padi fields and pig farms. Unfortunately the actual date is in a classical Chinese form that we have not yet been able to translate. The inscription also records that the grave was restored by the Perak Guangdong Association on 18 August 2003. 

This final picture shows the inscription on the small altar to the right (just visible on picture one). This is the symbolic grave of the God of the Earth for those who wish to pray to him. No doubt all the mining coolies needed his help!

This is a real piece of Ipoh’s heritage as it has probably been there since 1895 or before!

Ipoh’s ‘Round Market’

By |2010-04-02T01:29:51+08:00April 2nd, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , |


This famous Ipoh landmark opened in 1962. Designed by Booty Edwards & Partners, the place offered each trader equal space for his/her shoplot.

The Yau Tet Shin bazaar was known to the locals as Pasar Bulat (Round / Circular Market); it offered everything from suitcases and travelling bags, to Pomelo and Groundnut stalls, and it also had 3 Chinese Restaurants – one of which was featured in our previous blog post.

40 years later (in 2002) this landmark was ‘flattened’ and now turned into a car park. I remember 2 stalls there which I once visited – a Chinese tailor, and a bag stall where I bought my first school bag.

I’m sure some of you out there visited the bazaar, before it ‘vanished’……

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