A New Landmark for Gopeng?

Text by Law Siak Hong
Photos by Lau Sook Mei

Broken bridge.

There ain’t no use in crying over spilt milk, and you can’t flog a dead horse. Being philosophical makes bearable the disappointments and the hurt. The pipeline bridge, this landmark in Gopeng is now a thing of the past. Why is it not saved as promised by the authorities and the owner? Heritage is such: once gone, you can never have it back!

Part of the demolished pipeline lying on the ground.

There once were six steel pipelines supplying water to tin mines in Gopeng. But on 24 July, only 30m of the last one was saved ‘for display’ near the pipeline bridge across the main trunk road. Well, better than nothing, but is that enough to restore some pride to the saddened people of Gopeng?

What's left of the pipeline for "display".

We must not take things for granted. With the last pipeline demolished, Jabatan Warisan Negara’s nomination of Ipoh/Kinta Valley as a site for UNESCO World Heritage List has been compromised.

UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination involves “branding”. For the  Kinta Valley , it is probably best positioned as “the world’s industrial heritage of tin mining in Malaysia”. Gopeng is a pioneer tin-mining town in Kinta, and it has a history of innovative tin-mining and a century-old community of multi-ethnic mining labourers and rubber estate workers. Successful listing impinges on our tin-mining heritage being-well-preserved and sustainably managed.

As such, this landmark is more relevant than ever. The argument that the pipeline poses danger to road users speaks of cowardice and ignorance. That no one will pay to insure the pipeline reflects the authority’s lack of understanding for the significance of the iconic pipeline in world history. Cost cannot be a factor in the conservation of our heritage.

Across the road: concrete support pillars for the pipeline.

Interchange for the pipelines.

Mostly overlooked, but just to the west of the pipeline bridge are some abandoned concrete encasements. Like little castles on strategic higher ground, it is a perfect children’s playground for hide-and-seek. This place is ideal for an outdoor museum on tin mining, making education fun for young and old.

Concrete encasement.

Haven for hide-and-seek with the mosque in the background.

An outdoor museum here would be compensation of sorts. Let’s just hope that the Kampar District Office has not planned to wipe out this unique historical place as well. The PHS is ever willing to assist in professional planning of this exciting place for heritage sake.

For more information,please visit the following links:


(2)our blog: Death Knell for Gopeng Pipelines

(3)more about the giant Gopeng Pipeline


4 Responses to “A New Landmark for Gopeng?”

  1. 1 Papan Jones August 3, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Posting this for a saddened friend:

    To tell you the truth, the pipeline demolition is a real heart wrencher for me. It was a sexy thing snaking over the landscape, and keeping just a concrete bastion or part of a bridge doesn’t seem to do justice to its very linear quality – that it snaked through kampongs, over roads and river, and across valleys. That was its charm, its quality, and to keep a base seems, well, such a let down.

    I think its best to use this as yet another example of how important industrial heritage is in Perak, and to get the government to focus on that as an element of its heritage, rubber smokehouse, iron foundaries, limestone plants, as well as villas and places of worship, and govt buildings.

  2. 2 Papan Jones August 3, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    In the Star report, the Perak exco for tourism, Dato’ Hamidah announced her plan for a tourist centre near the pipes which would highlight the remnants of the pipeline and the bridge over the road. Having failed to retain the bridge across the road as Gopeng’s oldest landmark, we should await with reservations full disclosure of the planned project, which we hope is professionally designed and executed. High international standard
    must apply if it were to represent our world industry heritage, now lost to scap metal harvest.

    Here, let’s acknowledge the help of Ben, a resident in Gopeng who monitored and reported to PHS the progress of the demolition work. This is networking with the local at its best. Many many thanks, Ben!

  3. 3 Warisan August 8, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    From the grapevine: parts of the pipelines were still being demolished a few days ago. When will it ever stop? Only when there’s nothing left? Will the relevant authorities please keep their promise about reserving 30m for “display”?

    • 4 HeriHong August 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm

      To Warisan: It amazes me that the authorities refuse to understand what a landmark is, believing instead that any bit of the pipe on the side of the road is good enough a representation of the real thing.

      What hurts most is to be informed by our source that someone in Gopeng Bhd believes that his Company has done Gopeng a great service by persuading the scrap-metal buyer (of the pipes) to leave behind a short length of it near where it used to cross the main road.

      Knowledge is of utmost importance to our progress. But how if we refuse to accept knowledge even when presented on a golden platter. The golden platter will be snatched away for its worth but the knowledge will be thrown away as a bother.

      There is no compromise. A loss is a loss. And we can never get it back.

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