Introduces recently published books relating to local heritage or social history
Book Launch: Iversen – Architect of Ipoh and Modern Malaya
click poster to enlarge
For those of you who have been waiting patiently, well keep this Sunday 22nd March 2015 free!
The Iversen book is finally out and will be launched at:
Venue: Sarang Paloh Event Hall, No.16, Jalan Sultan Iskandar (Hugh Low Street), Ipoh
Time: 2.30 pm
Come meet the author – Ruth Iversen Rollitt – in person!
Scorpio on the Dragon’s Demise – The True Stories of the Special Branch During the Second “Emergency”
This, the fifth book in the Scorpio Series covers the period of the second Malaysian “Emergency” from 1970 to 1990 and Special Branch operations that not many people are aware of. By 1970, the Communist Party of Malaya had re-grouped in southern Thailand and trained about 2,400 reserve troops. They were ready to make a return to Malaysia.
But the Government was ready for them, having received information about their plans and the Special Branch put into place eight schemes to counter the communist terrorists, one of which was Operasi Bamboo to curb their influence among the orang asli.
The author of this, and the earlier series of four books is the former Special Branch deputy director of operations Datuk Dr Leong Chee Woh, who retired from the police force in 1984 after 44 years of service. Thus the stories come direct from the horse’s mouth as he was directly involved in the planning and execution of the various Special Branch projects that culminated in the collapse of the CPM in 1989.
This book may be ordered from the author Datuk Dr. Leong Chee Woh, contact 0193124759 or firstname.lastname@example.org at RM50 per copy plus postage and packing (RM5.00 to Malaysia). Payment vide his Maybank account, the details being provided when you place the order. For overseas purchasers please enquire about the postage to the above email.
You may also buy his other books: Scorpio the Communist Eraser, Scorpio Against the One-Eyed Dragon, Scorpio on the Dragon’s Trail and Scorpio in the Dragon’s Playground at the same time when postage charges will be much reduced.
Selvamany: More Than a Teacher
Northern Writers 5th November 2011
The next session of Northern Writers takes place at No5 Gopeng Road at 1030, Saturday 5th November. New books, new readers and a little food. Do come along. It’s very interesting.
And this month we have the special treat of the Poi Lam Choral Speakers, now internationally known.
Contact email@example.com for more information.
Wah! We Have Gone to Print
Yes, at last Ipoh, My Home Town has gone to the printers.
There are stories from a “Flying Tiger” who grew up in Market Street in the 1920s, Professor Wang Gungwu, a Greentown boy before the war, Lat (who has also written the Foreword) and a number of others from stage, screen and radio plus of course successful businessmen and women, housewives and mothers, but interestingly, no politicians. Our oldest contributor is 92 and the youngest 12. The book therefore is really a history of life in Ipoh through the eyes of young people. With 276 pages and a wealth of original photographs and illustrations it has been a fascinating exercise for an expatriate, ably supported by his Malaysian wife.
The book will be launched by Tun Lim Keng Yaik on the morning of Saturday 17th September at the Royal Ipoh Club so if you can be in Ipoh that day that will be the place to be. Details of the programme and invitations will be sent out as soon as possible, but if you don’t get one and would like to attend, please just let me know.
Regarding the price, as this is a self funded project we have been able to keep the price down to a bare minimum with no profit taking. Hence the book will be on sale in the bookshops at RM100 and direct from us at RM90 excluding postage and packing. There will be plenty for sale at the launch, but if you cannot make it then you can always pre-order via firstname.lastname@example.org , providing your postal address. We can then advise you of the total cost as soon as the book is in our hands.
I look forward to seeing you at the launch.
The Ipoh Railway Station – late 1800s!
Believe it or not, this is what Ipoh’s first railway station looked like in the late 1800s (before the present Taj Mahal-like structure).
Amazing isn’t it? It is interesting to note that:
“…the first section [railway construction in Perak] was an eight-mile line running between Taiping and Port Weld….[which] opened for traffic in June 1885. The construction was carried out by two divisions of Ceylon Pioneers, lent by the Government of Ceylon.
The first through passenger train from Perak was that conveying H.H. the Sultan of Perak and suite from Kuala Kangsar to Kuala Lumpur on July 17th of that year  to attend the Conference of Chiefs of the Federated Malay States.”
The above quote and picture were taken from the book Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya: Its History, People, Commerce, Industries and Resources.
Click here if you wish to see a coloured postcard and short history of Ipoh’s first railway station.
New Book Hot Off the Press – “Tin Mining in Malaysia: the Osborne & Chappel Story.”
“Tin Mining in Malaysia: the Osborne & Chappel Story” was launched today by YB Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen, Minister of Tourism Malaysia, in conjunction with the opening of Gopeng Museum’s second premises, the Heritage House, Gopeng.
The book, written by David Palmer, who was part of O & C in Malaysia from 1960 until he retired, and Michael Joll, also an O & C employee for many years, covers tin mining in Malaysia over 200 years, with a short history of the mining industry from the early Colonial days until tin was no longer important in the 1990’s.
It also covers the span of O & C’s long and important involvement in the tin industry of the Kinta tin fields and the towns of Gopeng and Ipoh and tells what happened when the tin mines closed down.
For the technically minded a section of the book describes the various mining techniques.
With 352 pages, hard covered and featuring a wealth of original illustrations, the book is priced at RM100 / GBP20 (excluding packing and postage). It is available direct from the Gopeng Museum or can be ordered by email to email@example.com.
I have got my copy so make sure you get yours. It is good value and will make a darn good read as well as a definitive reference book for those who do not remember the tin mining heydays of the Kinta Valley.
Perak Postcards 1890-1940
Once the premier state of the Federated Malay States, Perak pioneered tin mining, rubber, roads and railways in Malaya. In the early twentieth century, Europeans and Asians venturing into this frontier country bought picture postcards to send home to family, friends and pen pals all over the world. Perak Postcards 1890s-1940s represents the largest such collection ever assembled into one volume, with more than 500 picture postcards contributed by several collectors. Practically all the major Perak districts and towns are featured – Ipoh, Taiping, Kuala Kangsar, Telok Anson and the mining towns of Kinta.
Malcolm Wade, a stalwart of the Malaya Study Guide, has written an authoritative postal history of Perak. Abdur-Razzaq Lubis and Khoo Salma Nasution, authors of the critically acclaimed Kinta Valley, Pioneering Malaysia’s Modern Development (2005) have extensively captioned the images – using contemporary sources, travelogues and memoirs to illustrate these vivid windows to the past.
This book is published by Areca Books; ISBN 978-967-5719-01-1.
The book is priced at RM 120, includes 575 postcards plus a few stationery and real photos.
For more information, do visit www.arecabooks.com or write to arecabooks.gmail.com
Ipoh My Home Town
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Above is the first draft cover of a new book that will be published as soon as we can fill the blank pages with your reminiscences of growing up in Ipoh. Text will be in the English language.
ipohWorld will take on the task of collating, editing and dealing with the publishing and printing aspects, but the contents must come from you, as I grew up in UK. Now of course we do have some excellent articles on this blog already but much more is needed if we are to be able to produce the quality book we seek.
We need much more about your schooldays, going to the movies (or storytellers street), Jubilee Park, the hawkers, the sounds they made (tock tock, ting ting etc), where they congregated (Convent rear entrance and Theatre Street for example), the food they sold (and more. Let us not forget the ice cream potong man and his gambling game, or the Milo man on his bicycle, the roti man and the Indian milk seller. Then of course there is home life, your parents, your neighbour’s profession, street games, rickshaws, trishaws, marketing with mum, local day trips, happy or sad times, festivals etc etc. Since I have lived in Ipoh I have heard so many stories and it is time you wrote them down for following generations.
But please understand that the work must come from YOU. All races, creeds are welcome to take part as long as you spent some time in Ipoh and have a story to tell.
Every contributor who has a story published will be presented with a personal copy. WE look forward to your support.
Please send all articles and high resolution (600dpi is perfect) scanned photographs to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t worry about your spelling or grammar, we can soon sort those out. But don’t forget, no contributions means no book! Articles may be between 500 and 1750 words and more than one article reflecting different aspects of your young life are welcome.
And please understand that regard to content and selection of stories, the Editor’s decision is FINAL.
The Landmarks of Perak
Landmarks of Perak records the richness and diversity of Perak’s architectural fabric. Structures depicted in the book include palaces, mosques, schools, temples, churches, memorials, government offices, banks, shophouses, bridges, and even private residences. More than 160 landmarks are featured, from each of the State’s nine districts, with particular attention given to the State’s historic urban centres. Over 400 specially commissioned watercolour paintings and sketched details by three leading Malaysian artists are reproduced in the book.
Published in 2006 by RNS Publications Sdn Bhd, Landmarks of Perak is produced by HRH Raja Nazrin Shah (the Regent of Perak); and features paintings from A Kasim Abas, Chin Kon Yit and Chang Huai-yan. The architectural descriptions are by Chen Voon Fee.
The book is now on sale at Popular Bookstore – selling at RM 230, with a 15% discount for Members; non-Members get a 10% discount. (ISBN 9789814308205)
Malaya’s Secret Police!
This book by Leon Comber is an analyses of the pivotal role of the Malayan Police’s Special Branch, during the Malayan Emergency. Dr Comber, an Honarary Research Fellow at Monash Asia Institute (Monash University, Melbourne), shows how the Special Branch was organised and how it worked in terms of security during the Emergency. It is said to be an interesting read, especially in learning from the “lessons” of “counterinsurgency operations”.
Our copy was purchased at RM 72, at the MPH bookstore.
ISBN number: 978-981-230-815-3
Ipoh’s Wonders in Print!
‘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
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : +603 – 2287 9422
Fax: +603 – 2287 8773
The Malayan Campaign – A Useful Reference Book
Although not a new publication (it was first published in 1982 and reprinted in 1984) it is out of print but sometimes still available on the Internet. It forms a very handy introduction to the Malayan Emergency of 1948 to 1960. Ideal for the student or as a first-time introduction to the events of those difficult times.
Osprey describe it thus:
In June 1948 Communist insurgent forces commenced a guerrilla war to end British rule in Malaya. During the ensuing 12 years of conflict there were 8750 reported ‘contacts’ between units of the Security Forces and the Communist enemy. Eventually Malaya was made independent, and the British and their Commonwealth allies emerged victorious. Written and illustrated by infantry veterans of the campaign, this book examines the Malayan Emergency, detailing the forces involved and the harsh jungle conditions in which they fought. The text is complete with firsthand accounts from the contributors themselves and numerous illustrations depicting the forces’ uniforms.
For the enthusiast it is worth searching for and rumour has it that it is to be reprinted. Keep an eye out in the bookstores if you are interested.
Our Man in Malaya by Margaret Shennan 2007
When the Japanese invaded Malaya in the Second World War, John Davis’s service in that country could have ended. Determined to help the land he had come to love, however, he transferred from the Federated Malay States – M16 – and then, in 1942, to the Special Operations Executive (SOE).
Escaping to India by fishing boat as Japan established its grip in the Far East, Davis set about planning the infiltration of Chinese intelligence agents and British officers into the Malayan peninsula. In 1943 he entered Occupied Malaya by submarine, as Mountbatten’s representative in charge of the Resistance mission, known as Force 136. After striking up a friendship with the youthful Chin Peng, Davis led negotiations at the end of 1943 with the Anti-Japanese Forces and the Malayan Community Party under the enigmatic Lai Tak. Their Agreement effectively enabled the British to return unopposed in 1945.
From 1947 Davis held key positions in the Malayan Civil Service, was Mentioned in Despatches, and was awarded two Malay honours for his contribution to Malaya’s security, to add to his British wartime CBE and DSO.
In the twelve-year Emergency Davis pitted his energy and know-how with increasing success in the jungle war against the Communist forces, in which Chin Peng, as General Secretary of the Malayan Communist Party, had become Britain’s Public Enemy No 1. However, memories of their wartime friendship survived. In 1955 the two met under a truce at Baling, and in 1998, the fiftieth anniversary of the Emergency, the Communist leader visited John at his home in England.
Radical, sometimes a maverick, and a man of strong convictions, John Davis was more than an extraordinarily courageous hero of the Second World War: he became an iconic figure in Malaya’s colonial history. Now his story can be told for the first time and is illustrated by photographs from his personal albums.
The book’s ISBN (Hardcover) is 978-0-7509-4710-7
The Foochows of Sitiawan: A Historical Perspective
Following on from my two previous posts about the Foochows of Sitiawan, here is the promised image of the book referred to.
Written by Shih Toong Siong, a descendant of those first immigrants the book tells the story of the Foochows since 1903. They were a ‘population transplant’, for a rice growing experiment, fully paid for by the British Colonial Administration and brokered by 3 Methodist Ministers known as ‘The Pioneers’. The scheme was a failure, but they were saved by the boom in rubber which they were able to grow successfully on their ‘Chinese Only’ land given to them by the government. The book endeavours to establish the very beginnings of the various schools, towns and churches of today’s Sitiawan.
There is also a fascinating section about a young schoolboy Ong Boon Hua, better known today as Chin Peng.
The ISBN is 983-41824-0-6 and it retails at RM49.00
Images 1909 to 2009 – The Centennial Anniversary Anderson School
Just published, this book includes a history of the school, recollections of years gone by and some thoughts on the way ahead for the next century. It is available from the Old Andersonians Association who can be contacted via the Old Andersonians Club, Ipoh. It is priced at RM130. The scan does not do justice to the cover which is actually much nicer than shown with the lettering blocked in gold. My scanner apologises for the poor result.
Should you need any contact details etc please ask via this blog.
Faces of Courage – The Story of Sybil Kathigasu GM
Published by Media Masters, Singapore and Authored by Sybil Kathigasu, Chin Peng and Ian Ward and Norma Miraflor, Faces of Courage stands as the first in-depth study of Malaya’s legendary war-time heroine, Sybil Kathigasu, and the impact her dauntless decisions and actions had on the members of her immediate family.
An essential aspect of this book is the personalized historical background and insight on the Japanese occupation era provided by former Secretary General of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), Chin Peng. It was Sybil’s association with the Perak People’s Anti-Japanese Army (PPAJA) – the communist-controlled guerilla organization in which Chin Peng played such a leading role – that provided the very foundation on which the Kathigasu legend eventually emerged and flourished.
Faces of Courage throws fresh light on a quite extraordinary story that became caught in a politically-induced, post-World War II time warp.
Sybil’s book, No Dram of Mercy, in which she recounts her horrific experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese Kempeitai, was completed several months before her death in June, 1948. But the manuscript was withheld from publication until 1954. British colonial interests deemed nothing good should be said about the communists in Malaya while Commonwealth forces still struggled to gain supremacy in the bitter jungle war known as the Malayan Emergency.
So often the cursory re-telling of legendary tales creates ill-conceived myths. The Sybil Kathigasu story is a case in point. And here the effect has only been compounded by Britain’s original propaganda ploy.
Faces of Courage is a book within a book. Sybil’s personal record, No Dram of Mercy, constitutes the opening section of this three-part volume. As such it provides a ready reference point for the revealing research, observations and reflections that follow.
The Turbulent Years in Perak – A Memoir
Jerry Francis is a former Journalist with the New Straits Times and was Regional Editor based in Ipoh for a good many years. Travelling with his photographer Thomas Wong Tuck Keong they were known as ‘Tom and Jerry’ by everyone. They as a press team had gone to a great extent and as well as high personal risk to cover the actions against the communist terrorists from 1973 to well after the Peace Accord in 1989. They were in fact at almost every flashpoint and security operations in Perak and South Thailand to file in reports to the group of newspapers they represented. There is no need for elaboration on the security situation during the turbulent years in Perak. Those, who had resided and served in Perak in those years, would remember how dangerous the situation was in the State and in South Thailand. Ambushes, assassinations, sabotages and terrorist activities frequently occurred at the height of the second wave of terror launched by the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), Communist Party of Malaya-Marxist-Leninst (CPM-ML) and their splinter groups in their bid to make a come back from 1969 to 1989. Though, many years have passed, those incidents and experiences are still vividly in their minds because of the impact they had in their lives. This book is a compilation of some of the events and action, involving the members of security force, civilians and communist terrorists encountered by the press team through the passage of the Turbulent Years in Perak.
Postcards from a Foreign Country
This newly published book tells stories about Ipoh around 1957 and Merdeka when Malaya was in a time of change with the British on their way out and Malayans ruling their own country for the first time.
Consequently the Colonisers and the Colonised had to come to terms with their new relationship. Similarly the citizens of this new country had to adjust to the new reality and their relationsghip with each other.
Although the stories are fictional, the author was an Ipoh boy and the places are real. No doubt therefore the stories are actually based on his time here and make interesting reading. For all Ipohites who treasure their past here, we recommend this book.
Seven Packets of White Rice in Bukit Merah – a True(?) Story
This Story is translated from the book by Mr. Choo Choong Yin’s Book on Ipoh and its stories, written in Chinese.
The year was 1986. There was a coffeeshop in the village of Bukit Merah where there was a popular stall that was selling ‘economy’ rice (a common meal for lunch in Ipoh). The stall was manned by the proprietor himself with aid of a helper.
One hot afternoon, just after the busy lunch hour, most of the customers in the shop had left and it was rather quiet. A shabbily-dressed, middle-aged man arrived on an old bicycle. He parked his bicycle in front, walked into the shop and softly told the proprietor, “I’d like to have 7 packets of plain rice for take-away.”
The proprietor then asked him, “Would you like to have other dishes to go with the rice?”
The middle-aged men answered, “No, just put some gravy and soy sauce on the rice and will do.”
The stall proprietor studied the scruffy-looking men for a while, felt a bit strange and thought to himself, “Just plain rice for lunch? This guy must be really poor to be unable to afford anything more.” He wrapped up all the 7 packets of rice, put them neatly into a large plastic bag, gave it to the man and said, “ That’s RM3.50, please.” But upon receiving the bag, the man quickly rushed off. He got on his bicycle and sped off without a word.
The proprietor told his helper, “I’ll be out for while, you please look after the stall for me”.
He quickly hopped on his motorbike, which was parked beside the shop and tailed the man who fled on the bicycle. The middle-aged man did not realize that he was being followed. A short while later, after a few turnings, the man, arrived at his house, a dilapidated wooden shack. He parked his bicycle, went into the house and shut the door and windows.
The stall proprietor arrived shortly afterwards and looked around outside the house. At the back portion, he was able to peek through some gaps in the wooden wall and saw what was inside. The middle-aged man opened up all the 7 packets of rice surrounded by six hungry-looking children. They must have been starving as the meal was quickly devoured in a short while.
The proprietor then went to knock on the front door. Not suspecting anything amiss and thinking that it was his neighbour calling, the middle aged man went to open the door. He was shocked on seeing the stall proprietor standing in front of him and looked terribly guilty.
The proprietor gave him a pat on his shoulders and said, “Don’t worry, I am not here to ask you for the money for the food which has not been paid. I could have caught up with you earlier on my motorbike and confronted you but I didn’t. I don’t understand why, if you had wanted to cheat me, why didn’t you ask for other dishes to go with the rice?”
The middle aged man sighed, tears welled up on his eyes. He said,” I worked in the tin mine for more than 20 years. The tin prices slumped, the tin mine had to close down and I’ve been retrenched recently. My employer only paid me half a month in compensation. After paying for the house rent, electricity and water, I had no money left. And my wife has left me with the kids. The kids have been without food for the whole day. Out of desperation, I did what I had done to you. I am truly sorry.” The stall proprietor was moved by the circumstances the middle-aged man was in and offered to help. “I’ll give you a month to go elsewhere to look for a job. I will provide your children with two meals a day. You can get your eldest daughter to pick up the meals from my stall everyday. When you get your salary later, you can come back to repay me. What do you think? The middle-aged man was overjoyed and was very thankful to the restaurant owner indeed.
The above was said to be a true story which happened in Bukit Merah. Words spread around, all the residents came to know about it and it became the talk of the village.
Remember: The year 1986 was the pits of the recession the 80’s . The tin mining industry in Kinta Valley slumped in the early 80’s causing a lot of people to be out of job. The economy was very bad. Paycuts and retrenchments were the norm. That was also the period where there was massive exodus of young people who went overseas to seek employment, not only from Bukit Merah but also from several smaller towns around Ipoh.
Today we are in recession again. Will you be prepared to help your neighbour, of whatever race, creed or religion if he needs it?
Tan Sri Dato Seri Yuen Yuet Leng – A True Patriot
Tan Sri Dato Seri Yuen Yuet Leng, a Perakian and Police Officer extraordinary. Author of Operation Ginger and Nation Before Self, both being compulsive reading. We recommend them.
“Nation Before Self” by Dato Seri Yuen Yuet Leng
This book recently published by Dato Seri himself is written in 5 distinct parts. It covers his developing years at King Edward VII school in Taiping, his memories of the Japanese occupation of Malaya and after the war a brief spell as a teacher. This is followed by detailed descriptions of his struggles against the Communist Terrorists first from 1950 to 1960 as a young policeman and member of the Special Branch in Perak and then, after the assassination of Datuk Koo Chong Kong, CPO Perak, as the new CPO Perak and later, Police Commissioner, Sarawak. In these roles he was continually a new target for the Communists and there are many stories of ambushes and attempted assassinations that very few Malaysians have ever heard of. Indeed if you were not aware of the background you might believe that this is a novel rather than a true account of the anti-communist struggles that took place in Perak and beyond over more than 30 years.
The book continues with thoughts on the Nation as it is today, sometimes controversial and ‘straight from the shoulder’. This is a fascinating review of the thoughts of one man, and a national hero at that!
The last two parts include firstly more thoughts about where we are today as a nation and where we are going. The last section provides a range of press cuttings of Dato Seri’s letters to the press which make fascinating reading.
The book is available at MPH at RM39.90 and in my view, recommended reading for all Malaysians. If you have already read it then we would be pleased to see your view on these pages as well.