Thursday, September 3, 2009


From Taiping to Ipoh

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Ipoh(怡保) is the state capital of Perak,Malaysia. It is the 4th largest city in Malaysia, it gained its city status on 27th May 1988. It is located in the Kinta Valley, once the largest tin producing area in the world, but now the production has declined in 1970s. It is 200km away from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, and south of Penang.

Ipoh derived its name from a local tree, pohon epu(now known as Pokok Ipoh). Scientifically it is called Antiaris Toxicaria or it may be called upas tree. Its sap is used as poison for blowpipes by Orang Asli(natives of Malaysia),it is called upas, Javanese for poison.

Ipoh is also known as Paloh(壩羅), which is the name for gigantic mining pump used for early tin ore extraction. Ipoh was a mining town. Other names including "The town build on Tin"(锡城),"City of Millionaires" in view of many millionaires in Ipoh that make their fortune from tin mining, especially in 1920s and 1930s; "The Hill City"or San-sen(山城) by Cantonese,mainly due to many limestone hills found around the city.

Historically, Ipoh is referred to the Old Town(旧街场) and New Town(新街场)areas, separated by the Kinta River(近打河). The Old Town was developed in the 1820s as a small village on the bank of Kinta River,at that time the early mining town of Gopeng, south of Ipoh is more prominent as mining town. Until 1874, Ipoh was not developed due to transportation problems,the sampans, elephants, and bullock carts were slow. Kinta River was the main transportation link between Ipoh and other areas until 1880s. The first road was only opened in 1884, between Gopeng village and the port in Kota Bharu, and it connected with other mining town in Papan and Batu Gajah. In 1892, east part of Ipoh was affected by great fire,houses were destroyed and need to be rebuilt(some said it is the reason the name of Ipoh New Town was derived). It was only in 1893, Swettenham founded the Ipoh Sanitary Board, and began the systematic town planning of Ipoh, more than half of the thatch roof houses were and replaced by brick buildings.Roads were reorganized and shade trees were planted, drainage system improved. In 1895, Ipoh become the largest town in Perak and the Federated Malay States(FMS). The first lower secondary school,an English school was built also in 1895, known as Anglo Chinese Boys School(ACS). The wooden bridge crossing Kinta River was replaced with steel bridge in 1900. The first field was opened in 1898,now known as Ipoh Field. Perak Race Club was set up in 1904 and People's Park, a special area to commemorate J.W.W Birch (James Wheeler Woodford Birch). Many of colonial double storey shop houses still remained at Leech Street(烈治街),now known as Jalan Bandar Timah.

Between 1905-1914, the town administration of Ipoh extended across the Kinta River until Anderson Road. A new town known as Ipoh New Town was formed. Bus service began in 1910, and in 1911, Motorized Vehicles Registration Office was opened in Ipoh. In 1912, St Michael Institution, a La Sallian school was set up at Clayton Road(now Jalan S.P.Seenivasagam),it was opened by Father J.B.Coppin.

1905-1915 Kinta Sanitary Board North
1916-1941 Kinta District Board, headed by AS Jelf under British Military Administration.It is in the early 1930s, a large part of New Town was developed by Hakka miner and millionaire, Yau Tet Shin, extended the New Town from eastern bank of Kinta River to Greentown.

1941-1946 : Ipoh was invaded by Japanese on 15-12-1941 during World War II. The Japanese Imperial Armies transferred all administration from Batu Gajah and Taiping, to Ipoh. The Japanese Civil Administration or Perak Shu Seicho was set up at St Michael Institution.
1946: After the liberation, British retained Ipoh as state capital of Perak
1946-1954: Kinta Town Board, under Major JS Drake, followed by GS Walker(Chairman from 1954-1956)
1957-1962:Malaysia gained independence from the British on 31-8-1957, Menglembu Town Council was set up in 1957.
1962-1988:Ipoh was upgraded on 31-5-1962 to a Municipality and was known as Ipoh Municipal Council, headed by EG Walker

In 1980s, however a new commercial area at Greentown was developed, which now overshadow the New Town and Old Town. The old city of Old Town and New Town are now dead at night.

Ipoh was declared a city on 27-5-1988 by Sultan of Perak. Ipoh Municipal Council become Ipoh City Council. Today, Ipoh is referred to the territories under MBI(Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh)or Ipoh City Council. The city included smaller towns surrounding the main Ipoh town,namely Tambun, Silibin, Chemor, Jelapang, Falim, Menglembu, Tanjong Rambutan.

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