Welcome to the PHS blog, or heri.blog, if you like.

What this blog is about.
We are glad to start blogging in 2010 and we look forward to hearing from you. We offer quick response to heritage issues as they appear. We are not confined to Perak. We will highlight any lesson to be learnt about appreciation for our heritage.

What is heritage, and why does it matter?
Our heritage is shared by a multi-cultural people celebrating harmonious diversity. It is both indigenous and imported. It embodies our social history, our glories and our wealth. It gives us our identity. It figures in our daily life and our memories. It is of public interest.

Heritage is not simple. Its scope is vast, and its interpretations often conflicting. It is not easy to define.

In Malaysia, guidelines are set out in the National Heritage Act 2005. Read it and tell us what you think.

History is intrinsic to Heritage. History matters. Heritage counts. Heritage is what you have inherited, what you embrace, what you could live with and what you pass on to the future generations. It is about your pride and your values, your memories and your experiences.

Start thinking about what you value and you will fall naturally into sustainable conservation.

How heritage needs you, and what you can do to help.
Our heritage needs you — individuals, property owners, contractors, developers, architects, business owners, conservationists, you and me! It  takes individual, community and governmental efforts to protect and conserve our heritage.

You can play your part. Sign up as a PHS member or share your concerns for Perak Heritage by entering this blog.

This blog is an information exchange. Be our eyes, ears and legs. Alert us by email perakheritage36@gmail.com if you know of any heritage under-threat near you or anywhere in Perak. Remember, once gone, you can never get it back. So let’s try to prevent any destruction before it is too late.

This is our cyber-network. Let’s heri.blog!

We Care About Our Past!
Together we can make a difference.
Happy Blogging!

A New Committee Born

Text Law Siak Hong
Photographs James Gough

The 13th Annual General Meeting was a disappointment – there was no quorum.

Nevertheless, our special guest, Kenneth Wong presented his talk on cultural landscape. Judging from the active participation in the Q&A session that followed, it was enthusiastically received.

But without quorum, the AGM had to be re-convened quickly to elect a new committee. Quick action was taken to arrange a new venue, and extra effort was made to invite the members. Our Hon Sec James even contacted all the voting members by phone and email to urge them to attend the AGM. This time, we achieved the numbers. On the evening of 6th April, in a function room at the Perak Golf Club, we dutifully elected the new committee from the members in attendance.


Missing from the photograph is, of course, the photographer, Hon Sec James.

In his opening remarks, out-going president Mohd Taib congratulated the efforts of Han Chin Pet Soo and Ho Yan Hor, two history interpretation centres in Ipoh Old Town. He expressed the wish that Ipoh will see similar efforts which showcase the Malay and Indian communities in Ipoh.

Significantly, Mohd Taib pointed out the down side of UNESCO listing, “hastening the loss of hometown character to hyper-commercialisation”. A fair warning, indeed, as we witness the effect of increased tourism on Penang and Melaka post inscription as UNESCO world heritage sites.

He applauded initiatives such as Ipoh Kreatif, Borak Art Youth and The Other Festival, efforts supported by the state government, for bringing life to Ipoh through culture and the arts.

He mentioned the encouraging effort by Nor Hisham, our new committee member, in having drafted a heritage map which focuses on street names in Ipoh Old Town. He recalled the overwhelming support of young academia in Sawalunto, Sumatra and appealed to younger members to come forward and serve in the PHS committee.


Voting in progress

The new committee was quick off the mark; five days later, they met to decide on the office bearers. There was renewed enthusiasm with a determination to activate a programme for members, highlighting membership drive and outreach to the community of heritage lovers in Perak.

So, PHS members and the general public are in for some high profile activities. To succeed, many volunteers will be required. When you read our appeal for help, do not hesitate to join in the fun and do your bit for PHS.


New line-up for 2016-2018: Front row (l-r) Phillip Pu (Honorary Treasurer), Mohd Taib bin Mohamed (President), Jaki Mamat (Vice President) and James Gough (Honorary Secretary). Back row (l-r) Committee members: Law Siak Hong, Audrey Shanta, Jayakumary a/p Marimuthu, Sam Tan and Mohd Tajuddin bin Mohd Tahi. Not in photo: Nor Hisham bin Zulkiflee, and Meor Harun bin Meor Osman.



The 13th Annual General Meeting, 2016

of the
Perak Heritage Society

will be held on
26th March, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. 

at Sarong Paloh Event Hall,
No.12 & 14, Jalan Sultan Iskandar
(Hugh Low Street), 30000 Ipoh.


  1. President’s Address
  2. Minutes of the 12th Annual General Meeting
  3. Annual Report
  4. Treasurer’s Report
  5. Election of Office Bearers.
  6. Any Other Matters
  7. Post AGM

“Cultural Landscapes” by Kenneth Wong

  • Renew your membership before the AGM, so you can vote.
  • Non-members are welcome as observers – why not sign up for membership?
  • Come enjoy the power point presentation by Kenneth Wong, PhD.
  • Tea and refreshments will be served.
  • Meeting will end before 5:30.


Mohd Taib Mohamed

Women at Work in Ipoh Methodist Girls’ School

Text and photographs by Law Siak Hong


The main building of the Ipoh Methodist Girls’ School, built circa 1930. The principal’s office sits above the porch.

For almost half a century, the mural has lived quietly in the corridor outside the principal’s office, which was, and still is the place students and teachers do not choose to linger.
It was Wai Chun, my Sixth Form schoolmate in ACS Ipoh who told me about the mural. I was intrigued and asked to see it. A couple of years went by. When she finally took me to her old school, I was stunned by her ‘masterpiece’. What a ‘hidden’ treasure! However, I was alarmed to see that the panels had suffered some water damage and electrical conduits and fixtures had run over one of them. Assured of help from me, the intrepid Wai Chun began to mastermind the restoration of this MGS mural in which she had an indelible hand.


The mural is located outside the principal’s office, seen here in the back wall, during restoration.

Volunteers are critical. They are recruited from among old school friends, but scheduling work sessions to suit them is tough because they live either in KL, Penang or overseas. Support from the school administration for the project has to be sought. Paint and materials must be acquired. The restoration work needs direction and some conservation expertise. Problems abound, but perseverance pays off. The path is set when the school principal Datin Mungit Kaur orders the intrusive electrical fixtures removed; thus, the mural reclaims the wall. The rest, as they say, is history.


Wai Chun and Siak Hong taking note of the unwelcomed intrusions on the mural.

Back then, under the guidance of art mistress, Mrs Vivian Chong, eleven girls had pencilled their design and coloured it with wall-paint. Wai Chun has kept a black-and-white photograph of the time: girls in shorts, standing on stools stacked precariously on classroom furniture. This time, however, to repair and refresh this extraordinary artwork, a couple of steel scaffolding has been employed; no longer light and stealth, the older and heavier volunteers prefer to work on a steady platform.


Working from the scaffolding

Occupations of Women’, as it was titled, was conceived as a triptych, three panels depicting women at work: manual workers, vocational workers and professionals. Each panel measures 7-feet wide by 5-feet tall. At first sight, the images appear like mosaic. However, upon scrutiny, you would see they are composed of little ‘tiles’, painted in a full spectrum of colours, laid on a pale pink background resembling stonework.


Manual workers. The petrol brand of Caltex was new to the Malaysian market then.


Vocational workers. The year which dates the work is disguised as the car’s registration number.


Professionals. This is the panel which Wai Chun designed.

The figures are girlish, but why not? The women are Asian; they have black hair and their skin tone in shades of light brown. But why styled it like mosaic? Mosaic evokes the venerated decorative art of western antiquities. Painting the mosaic was what the young artists could manage. The result is convincing, and has fooled many casual viewers. Perhaps, the evocation of mosaic was inspired by what Mrs Chong saw during her tour of Europe.


The portrait of the Raja Permaisuri Agong lends weight to this WOMEN only scene.


Square by little square, Wai Chun painstakingly brushes on the missing ‘tiles’. Note the architect’s red dress with black and white pattern – the young artists were obviously fashion-conscious.

Wai Chun confesses that the school motto of ‘Our Utmost for the Highest’ is what sustained her through this ‘call of duty’. The process has been time consuming but the experience is both meaningful and satisfying for all concerned. It has fostered old friendships. The volunteer painters had loads of fun despite the painstaking work which none of them are unaccustomed to. Happy or sad, memories of school days live on, perchance to air at opportune time, like when old school friends gather for a worthy cause.


Wisdom runs along the corridor of the main building.

This mural has long been taken for granted. Having endured the passage of time and neglect, it is now primed and poised for glory, as the school advances towards its 120th anniversary celebration in 2017.


The triptych: Seated on these comfy padded sofas you would miss seeing the ‘women at work’.

Is this mural unique in Malaysia for its subject of women at work? Do tell us if you know of any exceptional school mural with special themes. We will be delighted to document their stories and share them in this PHS blog. ○H



Kenyon Cottage, formerly the headmistress’ residence.

We heard that the building is set to become the school ‘museum’ for the display of its movable heritage and archival material. The PHS notes similar set up in Yuk Choy High School and St Michael’s Institution in Ipoh, and St George’s in Taiping. Please share with us if you know of others.


The 1964 edition of the school magazine, ARGOSY, illustrates a new mural at the school canteen shared with the primary school. Incomprehensibly, this vibrant mural, depicting children at play, has been painted over with a far less interesting mural.

UPDATE – 29th December, 2015: A dedication ceremony was held in the school to mark this exemplary effort given to the mural’s restoration. The PHS thought it deserves something special to help fix this memorable advent. Siak Hong sought sponsorship of the commemorative plaque from Royal Selangor. It was a success!


(Above): A week before the dedication ceremony, Wai Chun deputised the PHS in receiving the plaque from Datuk Seri Chen Mun Kuen at Royal Selangor showroom in Setapak, KL.


(left): PHS President Mohd Taib Mohamed presents the pewter plaque to MGS Principal Datin Mungit Kaur. (Right): Chan Wai Chun presents a souvenir photo book to PHS. The photo book chronicles the mural restoration process, with messages from Datin Mungit Kaur, Mrs Vivian Chong and reflections from all the girls who worked on the restoration project.


Inscribed with a brief history of the mural, the pewter plaque is fixed to the wall below the mural. No more excuses for not knowing about this incredible mural that is almost half-a-century old.

Read More : The extraordinary passage of Taiping’s Central Market


By Law Siak Hong
Conference and Workshop: Industrial Heritage at Stake
22nd– 24th October 2015, Sawahlunto, West Sumatra


City Cultural Centre: the conference venue

A confession: before the invitation to speak at the conference, I had never heard of Sawahlunto. So, google I did. I learned quickly that it is in West Sumatra, not far from Padang, and it is already tentatively listed as UNESCO world heritage for its authentic historical urban landscape and the industrial heritage of coal mining. For universal significance, they fall in with Criteria (ii) and (iv). It also boasts a contented community: it has the second lowest poverty rate among cities in Indonesia. The people are steeped in cultural history, homegrown and yet well-adjusted to contemporary sensibilities.


The Wayang Kulit Festival Sawahlunto 2015 was on and we caught some of the action after the evening conference session.

Built not only along hairpin roads hugging the hillside, houses and other buildings also line the river banks. Bridges link the various parcels of land, which are shored up by concrete embankments, engineered to impede erosion. Workers quarters are provided by the mining company and they exist now as kampongs in the city. Most of the historical institutional and commercial buildings, relatively small in size, date from early 20th century. Then, there is the viaduct for rail and road, and the triple silos fed by a conveyor belt riding on a tall, skeletal steel structure. They are huge, yet they melt into the landscape confidently. Get up close and you will realize the power of these industrial structures.


Kota Sawahlunto, bridge over the town’s river


Kota Sawalunto, homes on the slopes


Kota Sawahlunto street scene


Kota Sawahlunto triple silos and conveyor belt structure and vip tent for Wayang Kulit Festival.


Former mayor Pak Amran Nur addressing the conference

Started in 1887, coal mining ceased in 2000. People left and the district went into decline. Along came Mayor Bapak Amran Nur (2003-2013), now Director of Indonesian Heritage Trust. Pondering on his hometown’s fate, he began to restructure its economy and effectively eradicated poverty and improved welfare through healthcare and education. To prevent land degradation, he donated rubber and cocoa seeds, even fertilizer, to the people for cultivation and long term income. Small and exotic museums were set up, indigenous performing arts were developed, and tourist spots were generated. In a few years, he turned this beautiful verdant Minangkabau valley into a tourist destination. Already, tourism contributes one-third of the city’s income. But what is the sustainable number of tourists for this constricted valley? If the UNESCO inscription happens, more hotels and eateries will be needed. How would its cultural identity and that all-important “sense of place” survive under the pressure of tourism development?

With the theme of Industrial Heritage at Stake, Sawahlunto is a choice host for this Pansumnet Gathering. The conference attracted over 70 participants from Pansumnet and speakers from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Bandung and Jakarta (Java), and, of course, Sumatra. Led by our president, Mohd Taib Mohamed, the delegation of seven from the Perak Heritage Society arrived in thick smog, which registered an API of 1000, way above the health hazard level of 150! Despite that, clearly, each of us took home memories and knowledge beyond our expectations.


Group caption: While sessions were held indoor, walking to and fro the hotel and the conference venue took us to the street.

Through this encounter with Sumatra, my understanding of its cultural and industrial heritage made a quantum leap. Deeply rooted in culture, Sumatrans are warm and friendly; smiles are everywhere. In Sawahlunto, even boys and young men cruising by on motorbike would greet me with a respectful “pak”.

Sawahlunto awaits a new designation as world heritage. Go visit soon.


Gathering of heritage lovers.

Postscript: PANSUMNET is the acronym for Pan-Sumatra Network for Heritage Conservation. Our heartfelt thanks to: Sawahlunto Municipality, Pansumnet and Heritage Hands-On, joint organisers of Pansumnet Gathering 2015; the convener, Hasti Tarekat; the deputy mayor of Sawahlunto, and all the participants. A special mention: Pak Asdian of SEMEN PADANG, for his warm hospitality and the privilege of witnessing the SP Journalist Award at Basko Hotel in Padang.


Post conference site visit: in Padang, a special treat awaited. Built by the Dutch in 1905, SEMEN PADANG is the oldest cement plant in Southeast Asia. As technology advanced and plants were built, the old one was abandoned. University groups were invited to study the site and plan adaptive re-use, to turn them into public facilities.

PHS delegation to Sawahlunto


President’s Address at the AGM 2015

Mohd Taib, James Gough and Philip Pu at the AGM

With the formation of the National Heritage Department through National Heritage Act 2005 (Act 645), non-governmental organisations like us seem redundant. The same fate has fallen on Badan Warisan Malaysia, its voice becomes stifled. Yet, PHS and NGOs like us have remained relevant.

Other than the National Heritage Act 2005, there are legislations that cover heritage matters in Malaysia. The Town and Country Planning Act 1976 (Act 172) and Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171) both emphasize heritage preservation. However, along the way, in implementations, they slip up.

In Ipoh, there are 25 buildings/monuments/sites which are gazetted as “state” heritage through the Local Government Act 1976. However, to date, only a handful has been listed as national heritage under the National Heritage Act.

On 8th September 1999, through the Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan, that is, state exco meeting (No. 1348), the Perak state government declared Taiping a heritage town. Only a handful of its “33 firsts” have been listed as national heritage under The National Heritage Act 2005, and some of them have fallen to the ground. Recently, when Taiping launched the Taiping Heritage Trail, prominence was given to two electric buses donated by the Japanese government rather than the sites; the buses will provide transport to tourists on the route.

In Karai, the Victoria railway bridge will suffer the same fate of neglect. I have witnessed at least three events organised at the site, yet no effort has been taken to preserve it under The National Heritage Act although officers from National Heritage Department were present at the events.

Last year, PHS was consulted on Ipoh’s heritage by both MBI (Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh) and the Department of Town And Country Planning Malaysia. Sadly, we have not been informed on the outcome.

The old issue of vandalism at the pre-historic rock art at Gunung Panjang, Tambun was exposed by the Malay Mail recently. We have yet to see action by the relevant authorities.

There is a tree preservation order under the Town and Country Planning Act. The National Landscape Department has documented heritage trees under Tree Inventory System (2008-2010). Trees that are more than 30 years old would be preserved, and 1,220 heritage trees in Perak have been listed. As such, the Ipoh tree (near Ipoh Railway Station) is value at RM123,735.60; Pokok Hujan-Hujan along Jalan Seenivasagam Ipoh, 120-years-old, at RM1,301,900.98 and those at Taiping Lake Garden which are 125-years-old have been rated at RM1,068,712.84.

PHS acknowledges the initiative from the private sector, including Town House Museum in Taiping and Han Chin Pet Soo in Ipoh by Ipohworld. I hope that there will be more private initiatives and that the state authorities will give them due recognition.

Lately I have rendered help to two PhD candidates, three Master degree students and one undergraduate on their theses, all of them relate to heritage. I was appointed as “Felo Industries” by Politeknik Sultan Idris Shah in Sabak Bernam, Selangor for 2014-2016.

I would like to thank all members of the PHS community for their support in making PHS relevant to the struggle to preserve our heritage.

Thank you.

Mohd Taib Mohamed gifting tokens of appreciation to Dr Olanweraju Ashola Abdullateef

Mohd Taib Mohamed gifting tokens of appreciation to Sam Tan

Mohd Taib Mohamed gifting tokens of appreciation to Law Siak Hong

Sam Tan delivering his power point presentation


The façade of venue for AGM: Sarang Paloh Event Hall, Jalan Sultan Iskandar (Hugh Low Street), Ipoh.



th May 2015

2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

ang Paloh Event Hall
No. 12 & 14, Jalan Sultan Iskandar
(Hugh Low Street, Old Town),
30000 Ipoh.

Please register
your intent to attend the AGM. For details, see below.


  1. President’s Address
  2. Minutes of the 11th Annual General Meeting
  3. Annual Report
  4. Treasurer’s Report
  5. Proposed review / amendments to PHS Constitution

5.1 Term of Office of office bearers:
The term of office for the post of President will be for 2 terms.

5.2 Voting:
Future voting will be secret ballot as against a show of hands.

  1. Any other matters


  1. “Understanding Heritage” by Sam Tan, UTAR Kampar Campus
  2. “Maintaining Buildings” by Dr Olanrewaju Abdullateef, UTAR Kampar Campus
  3. “Charcoal Industry of Coastal Perak” by Law Siak Hong, PHS Vice President


  • Members may renew their 2015 membership on the day.
  • Only Life and Ordinary Members may vote at the AGM.
  • Non-members may attend the AGM as observers. Why not sign up as member?
  • Light refreshments will be served.

To help us plan the catering, please register your intent to attend the AGM by emailing to perakheritage36@gmail.com or phone Hong: 0175061875.

Thank you.  

Darryl Collins Talk 2014


From Cambodian villages to cities:

Preservation of

traditional Khmer wooden houses

An illustrated talk by 

Darryl Collins

13 July 2014 (Sunday)

8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Sarang Paloh Event Hall

No.12-14, Jalan Sultan Iskandar (Hugh Low Street),

Ipoh Old Town

Admission by donation:

PHS members RM15

Non-PHS members RM25


Peggy 016-5230711 or

Hong 017-5061875 or


To avoid disappointment, book now!


Perak Heritage Society

Sarang Paloh Event Hall

Summary of talk

This talk explores the development of traditional Khmer wooden architecture in Cambodia from early Angkorian to modern periods. Traditional wooden architecture can be identified from bas-reliefs on stone temples to pagoda and palace wall paintings from the early 20th century. Recently, the Center for Khmer Studies conducted workshops, documented the architecture of wooden houses existing throughout the country and classified domestic architecture by style. Because of changing attitudes & lifestyles, old wooden houses are disappearing. Preserving them by moving and restoring them is one great way of saving the best examples.

Darryl presents a series of photographs which document living with traditional Khmer wooden houses – utilising interior furnishings and adopting environmental spaces for contemporary living.

The length of the presentation will be about 60 minutes.

About Darryl Collins 


With a background in the Arts of Asia, Darryl Collins studied at Sophia University, Tokyo (1978-1981). Later, he spent two years travelling as a curator for The Shogun Age Exhibition from the Tokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya (1983-1985). He gained his Master of Arts in art history at the Australian National University in Canberra in 1993. He first journeyed to Cambodia in 1994 with a team from the National Gallery of Australia, to work with an Australian Government funded project at the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. He co-authored Building Cambodia: ‘New Khmer Architecture’ 1953-1970, published in 2006 and for some five years lectured at the Department of Archaeology, Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, and completed in mid-2004 a 1-year consultancy with the Department of Culture and Research, the APSARA Authority, Siem Reap. In 2004, Darryl began part time work at the National Museum in Phnom Penh as manager for the 9 year Collection Inventory Project. He registered works of art and transferred early French records of the museum onto a purpose-designed database.

Darryl resides in Siem Reap and spends his spare time writing and researching art, architectural and cultural topics.



Perak Heritage Society

Persatuan Warisan Perak
(Reg. No. 1254) was registered with the Registrar of Societies in August, 2003.

Office and Postal Address:
85C, Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil,
30300 IPOH, Perak, Malaysia.
(opposite the Syuen Hotel)

Fax: 05-253 5507

Website: https://perakheritage.wordpress.com

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