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

April 2009

Lam Looking Bazaar Restoration Seems to Have STOPPED!

By |2009-06-20T04:49:57+08:00April 5th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Lam Looking building in Laxamana Road, Ipoh was destroyed by fire. Heritage buffs rejoiced when they heard that the bazaar had a new owner who was to restore it. Sure enough it was fenced and the rubbish cleared, but since then nothing has happened. Does anyone know when and what is happening next?

The Top pic is the side and front and the bottom the rear view including the spiral staircase.

For those who don’t know the history, It was built as ‘A stylish Art Deco building from 1931, with sweeping horizontal lines, featuring Early Modernist stair-wells.

The Celestial Cabaret and hotel upstairs was a favourite haunt of European expatriates. During the war, Japanese military officers patronised the cabaret which was also a Japanese casino (gambling farm) during the Occupation and a grenade target during the Emergency.

However, the cabaret eventually lost its clientele and was transformed into the Movieland Theatre. This was a cinema that specialised in Cantonese Opera movies that were very popular with the older members of Ipoh’s Chinese residents. But again, all good things come to an end and the theatre was replaced by the Perak Emporium.

As the Perak Emporium it was a major shopping centre from when it opened in the late 1960’s until it closed in the late 1980’s. It also had retail shops at street level, with smaller lots fronting an oval courtyard. Lot No. 8 was journalist Ahmad Noor Abdul Shukor’s “Blue Room”. Fook Seng, at Lot No. 6 retailed gramophones, keronchong songs and Arabic music.

However, the business went into decline around the time that the new store “Super Kinta” opened just along the road and that was the death knell of this grand old building which deteriorated thereafter.

Lam Look Ing, a Nam Wei Cantonese, was born in Penang in 1864. Trained as a naval officer in Foochou, he established himself as a tin-miner in Kampar and a large property owner in Ipoh.’

The Gambling Farms of the Federated Malay States

By |2009-04-01T03:46:14+08:00April 1st, 2009|Categories: Memories|Tags: , , , |

No doubt you have heard of dairy farms, vegetable farms and the like, but what about “Gambling Farms”?

The term Gambling Farms (so-called because they were run by representatives of syndicates termed farmers) seems to have originated from the Federated Malay States (FMS), for although gambling was prohibited in other British territories, in the FMS, “farmers” were given exclusive rights to set up gambling houses in return for a payment to the government.

By law, only Chinese were allowed onto the premises of these gambling farms. The British justified the legalizing of gambling by claiming that the Chinese were hardened gamblers (a claim which was later refuted by the ‘Protector of Chinese’ – how could he?) and that if they did not do so the Chinese would gamble in their mining kongsis anyway. The licensed gambling farms, which enticed coolies by hiring prostitutes as bankers, staging shows and offering sumptuous delicacies, brought in more than $3 million in revenue to the FMS government every year. However it was said that the moral tone of the Chinese community was deteriorating because of the Farms and in 1905, an Anti-Gambling Petition was sent by the rich and influential Towkays of the Chinese community to the High Commissioner. Not much was done to improve the situation however (after all the government were making big bucks) and it was only in 1913 that the ‘Common Gaming Houses Enactment’ took effect, outlawing most forms of gambling in the FMS.

January 2009

Chinese Gambling Tokens?

By |2009-01-26T04:00:39+08:00January 26th, 2009|Categories: What is it?|Tags: , , , , |

In the great days of Perak mining when Kinta Valley was the world’s biggest producer of tin, gambling was one of the main evils (alongside opium, women, alchohol and the Secret Societies) that faced the hardworking mining and railway coolies, as well as the rich Towkays who often lost their fortunes.

While we are not absolutely sure that these are bone gambling tokens, but that is how they were described when we obtained them and as they are of different sizes and denominations that may be a correct assumption. However, it has also been suggested that they are something to do with a Chinese ancestors altar and may be made of ivory. Should anyone know more we would be glad to hear from them. The photograph shows 32 of the 49 in the set and covers all the different sizes.

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