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Taiping’s Old House Museum

Text and photographs: Law Siak Hong

The Old House Museum in Taiping is intriguing, to say the least.

It has not been that long since the former owner passed away and the building sold. But in that short time, antiques and curios dealer, Mr Tan Kok Siew, the curator of Old House Museum, has managed to turn it into an Aladdin’s cave. The large townhouse is filled with his impressive collection, comprising furniture, kitchen utensils and wares, period paraphernalia, household items, and some rare historical prints and artifacts.

Shining silver trophies from a sporting life; a vintage lantern with decorative etched glass.

There are plenty for everyone to like and admire. In the rooms, the displays go by theme. The passages are not spared; interesting framed and flat items are judiciously grouped and arranged. It reminds me of The Time Tunnel in Kea Farm, Cameron Highlands – this is another must-see.

Portraits from the family album; old, decorated glass oil lamps with hood illuminated by a spotlight.
Colourful tiffin carriers in the kitchen; back windows of the house looking out to the stable below.
This passage way is a gallery of pop icons and movie stars as well as photographs of 1950s and 1960s.

It is commendable that Tan has left the house as found but had it cleaned from corner to corner. Pulling him aside, I suggested that he should investigate the heritage of the house and tell the story of the generations who lived there. It would be quite a riveting story, a part of the tapestry of Taiping’s social history.

Lim “Ji You” built the house, probably the first three-storey townhouse in Taiping; historical items hang in the passage way.
Out of bounds to visitors, the jaw-dropping wooden spiral staircase can only be admired.
Freshly-painted brick column and the original terracotta floor.
Wouldn’t it be better if the hall is fitted out as original as possible to tell the story of the Lim family?
A welcome speech during the briefing session.
Go admire the beautifully preserved screen behind Sharon Chan and Tan Kok Siew.

Organised by Sharon Chan for the Taiping Heritage Society, the group visit attracted over 30 members and their family, who were taking photographs with great enthusiasm, posing with the myriad of artifacts on display and sharing memories evoked by the place and its display. When all’s done, we were treated to an afternoon snack of delectable nyonya kueh, provided by the Taiping Heritage Society.

By the dining table is an ornate ancestral altar which faces the main road, Jalan Kota.

Ever the hospitable smiling host, Tan must be congratulated for a job well done.

Located at 2A, Market Square, the Old House Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Entrance fee is RM5 per person. For further information, phone 019-5513058 or email tpgkapitan@yahoo.com.

A New PHS Committee is Born

Photos by Law Siak Hong and James Gough

The spacious hall – setting the mood for smooth proceedings at the Annual General Meeting

The 11th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Perak Heritage Society (PHS) went smoothly and the new committee for 2014-2015 duly elected. For those who missed it, here’s a summary, and some photographs of the proceedings.

As members and guests arrived, the atmosphere of anticipation was palpable. The AGM got underway soon after the appointed time. Because of the lack of quorum, the meeting was adjourned and, accordingly, reconvened half-an-hour later.

James, Phillip and Mohd Taib – duties at the registration table

Browsing at the table books produced by the Department of Town and Country Planning

In his address, out-going president, Mohd Taib bin Mohamed expressed pride in PHS winning the state Tourism Award. But it was Advocacy, the keynote of his address which resonated.

“… Advocacy is an eight-letter word. It is disheartening that it is not only the community and government who lack understanding of heritage but we, members of PHS sometimes overlook the tenet of heritage. As such the new PHS committee will need to look seriously at heritage advocacy… For three years I have attended the state’s pre-budget dialogue sessions. Proposals for the state to provide incentive for heritage building owners and to create fund for heritage conservation works and research into our heritage had all fallen on deaf ears.”

Left: Mohd Taib delivering committee report. Right: Votes counted.

Sook Mei taking count of votes during the election of committee members

After both the management report and the financial report were adopted, the old committee stood down. The election followed. Out of twelve nominees, eleven were voted in, while the remaining was designated Honorary Auditor. Immediately after the AGM was adjourned, the new committee met briefly to appoint the office bearers. By consensus, status quo was maintained. For the names of the office bearers and committee members, see Information at the end of this summary.

As the hanging of the exhibition at Sepaloh Art Centre was still in progress, the preview had to be cancelled. We could not risk taking the heritage walk while rain threatened to fall. We wish for understanding if there was any disappointment.

As we were preparing to leave, Liz Cardosa of Badan Warisan Malaysia walked into the hall, having come straight from a meeting in KL. She might be late but her effort said much for her support for PHS.

A final word about the venue for our AGM: Sarang Paloh Event Hall is housed in the historic Bank of Malaya, built in 1920. The spacious hall was well presented for the AGM and, somehow, the sandwiches and cup cakes matched the feel of the place.

Information:

Attendance: 23 members & 7 guests/observers:
Life members = 6
Ordinary members = 16
Associate member = 1

Committee office bearers and members (2014-2015):

President: Mohd Taib bin Mohamed

Vice President: Law Siak Hong

Honorary Secretary: James Gough

Honorary Treasurer: Phillip Pu Yoke Loong

Committee Members:

Charlie Choong (new)
Peggy Lim (new)
Mohd JakiMamat
Jayakumary ap Marimuthu (new)
Gurmail Singh
Tajuddin bin Tahir
Sam Tan Seong Yeow (new)

Honorary Auditor:
Iris Cheng

Annual General Meeting 2014

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

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

(An open letter)

RE : Annual General Meeting 2014

Dear members,

It’s that time of the year again! The 11th edition of PHS AGM provides yet another annual session for the gathering of members and friends.

PHS members would have received the Notice of Meeting by mail. For our friends and supporters, some key information below:

26th Apri, 2014
2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Sarang Paloh Event Hall

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

Light refreshments will be provided.

Sponsor for the event: Miss Peggy Lim 

This year we will be having election of office bearers for 2014-2015. We urge you to attend the AGM to show your support for your Society. Why not take up the challenge, stand for election and join the PHS Committee, the work team? By the way, you may also renew your membership at the AGM.

There are two post-AGM programmes of great interest:

1. A special preview of FACES OF IPOH, an exhibition at Sepaloh Art Centre.

2. A walk in Old Town to assess recent development – a chance for you to share your feelings about heritage conservation in Ipoh Old Town.

ALL ARE WELCOME

Your friends and non-members may attend our AGM as observers. Please register your intent to join us with Siak Hong email: siakhongstudio@gmail.com or phone 0175061875 by 22nd April as we need to update the caterer the number we expect at the AGM.

SEE YOU ALL!

Your president,

Mohd Taib bin Mohamed

Public Relations in Practice – UTAR Style

Text: Law Siak Hong

The Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) public relations programme on Volunteerism Campaign for Culture and Heritage had the makings of a reality TV show. Despite early jitters, the students managed to pull it off in style. The challenges were reconciled; their course assessment, pass or fail, had depended on their execution. As I see it, while they might not have excelled in all the challenges, the students did apply themselves satisfactorily. Even though there was no crowd at the exhibition, the performances of the charity night enjoyed a tremendous response from an enthusiastic audience, 250-strong.

PHS’s participation in this university programme goes back to November last year. The UTAR tutor, Pong Kok Shiong, acquainted through his proposed survey on a visit to the UNESCO World Archaeological Heritage Site of Lenggong Valley, had asked if PHS would be one of the NGOs in his UTAR public relations student project. At the eleventh hour, Yeow Jian Hui replaced him, but that posed no problem. However, in all honesty, it was clear from the start that the students were too ambitious or perhaps too idealistic. Still, in the end, good sense prevailed to save the day.

We met the very hospitable Mr Loh of the Perak Chinese Chamber of Miners who delivered a brief history of tin mining in Perak. Each of us also received a gift of his book.

Students at the very old STAR Printing Work; they were fascinated by a tricycle, an old mode of delivery of goods and a rare sight today.

Since they chose to do the project on culture and heritage, I thought the students must know more about these topics. It was the morning of the first Friday in January when we took a walk in Ipoh Old Town. It is gratifying that the experience turned out to be the inspiration for their main exhibit – the Time Tunnel which depicts the history of Ipoh in snippets of social history, material culture and landmarks.

The weeks that followed were a little uneasy for me. In late February, we had one last meeting on campus when the photography competition had already been launched. Three weeks later, it was the official launch of the students’ programme, at which the PHS delegation, comprising President Mohd Taib, members Normiah and Jayaraj, volunteer Vera and me, were treated like real VIPs.

Group portrait after the programme launch at the Students Pavilion.

Team united: group portrait after the walkabout and a night out in Kampar New Town.

After this experience, it was necessary for me to step up my game. Our exhibition featured a total of five groups of displays. For visual impact, with the help of Sam Tan of UTAR’s Green Technology Faculty, we showed the architectural models on the Kinta Valley town of Gopeng produced by his construction management students. The exceptional feature was a large map of the Dr Sun Yat Sen Ipoh Trail, and a print of an oil painting depicting the Chinese revolutionary leader among his supporters in Kampar, reproduced with the permission of the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Singapore. For culture, on a table with items for sale, colourful handicrafts and soft toys supplied by Ipoh Craftsnerds found buyers. That evening, Vera and I were invited to a light dinner among the VIPs, and later to enjoy the performances at the charity night.

Vera at the sale table.

Vera and student volunteer hold fort at the sale table.

Models of Gopeng reneal project by students in construction management plus panels of information – courtesy of Faculty of Green Technology, UTAR.

The display on Perak Heritage Society and shophouse typology, and heritage maps.

The display on the industrial heritage of charcoal making heritage

The display of children art is an encouraging sign of the culture of creative development.

The display of containers and holders to echo culture and heritage: baskets of bamboo, rattan, straw and plastic, paper bags, and containers in metal, ceramic and wood.

“Revive The Forgotten” is the slogan created by the students for the charity night. The show, featuring singers, musicians and dancers from UTAR and Kampar was graced by the Vice President of UTAR, Professor Dr Teh Chee Seng.

All the way from KL, International Salon Chairman of The Photographic Society of Malaysia, Mr Harry Woo, Vice President Mr C T Goh and Head of Competition Department Mr W H Koh, gave away the prizes to the winners of the photography. On the screen to the right is the winning entry.

Here on stage with the emcees, the mascot appears in all the programmes of the campaign.

The impressive student choral singers.

The well-adorned Orang Asli flutist is a native of Kampar.

As Mohd Taib was otherwise engaged, I represented PHS at the public relations programme’s closing ceremony the following Wednesday. All four teams that took on their own NGO in the UTAR programme gathered together with a representative from their respective NGO. A sense of achievement and fun saturated the academic air. It looks to me like most of the students would all pass with flying colours.

Was it not Vice President Associate Professor Teh who told me during the show that 97 per cent of UTAR graduates find work, mainly in Singapore? The others, he intimated, had chosen to take time off to travel and perhaps, I venture to say, join the entertainment industry.

Footnote: PHS is grateful to Assistant Professor Dr Cheah Phaik Kin, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Mr Ng Eng Kiat and Ms Lee Lai Meng, Mr Pong Kok Shiong and Ms Yeow Jian Hui of the of the Department of Public Relations as well as all the students under their director Lo Vui Che who worked to raise some money for PHS. Let’s do it again next semester!

University Programmes and PHS

Over the years, as the flag bearer for Perak heritage, PHS has cultivated a network of supportive and creative individuals. While we have also assisted many researchers, both local and foreign, we tend to maintain an extended friendship with teachers from institutions of higher learning. They explore our resources in different ways, but invariably our cooperation has produced impressive results. The recent visits from teams of architects and future architects remind us it’s time we acknowledge their faith in us.

Teaching and writing are the key elements in the career of the UCSI University lecturer, Teoh Chee Keong. In the past decade or so, he has written a book and a weekly column in a national Sunday newspaper on subjects close to his heart: community, architecture and heritage. He is a tireless campaigner for building conservation. Apart from exposing his architecture students to Perak’s heritage, Chee Keong has also conducted summer projects in Taiping and Ipoh for visiting Taiwanese students. Chee Keong is Taiping born-and-bred, and there is extra satisfaction in his contribution.

UCSI students studying Waller Court

Students braved the heat of the afternoon to look at the commemorative plaque at the obelisk marking Waller Court.

This year, for the studio design programme of third-year architecture students, Chee Keong has chosen a neglected part of the green lung of Ipoh, the D R Seenivasagam Park, as a building site for a hypothetical cultural complex: a performing arts centre which includes a hostel for actors and production crew. Unfortunately, due to the scope of the study, blocks of the adjacent Waller Court could not be considered for the hostel. Nevertheless, the upshot is that PHS may host an exhibition of the best submissions in mid-year. That is surely something to look forward to.

As highlighted in a previous blog, Waller Court represents an outstanding example of the architectural heritage of historic public housing. Last year, students of construction management from the Faculty of Green Technology, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) in Kampar investigated its exceptional construction. Sam Tan, their supervising lecturer believes that Waller Court is an important piece of Ipoh’s architectural heritage. Not surprisingly, its strategic location has attracted redevelopment schemes. But as Sam suggested, it would do us good to learn about ‘the value of the community and its intangible contribution to the fabric of the city; the true cost of destruction must be addressed’. By the way, last month Sam had also helped us draw up the last conventional lime kilns in Bercham. 

The team who worked on the Royal English School.

The team in front of Rumah Tetamu.

In January, through the efforts of the staunch PHS supporter Casey Ng, a measured drawing tutor of Taylor’s University, Izwan Nor Azhar came to us. He and his colleagues eventually assigned two buildings in Batu Gajah to their student project. The buildings are The Royal English School, built 1916 as a residence and Rumah Tetamu, a rest house by the golf course, which has seen better days. Of the latter, we learn that demolition – rather than conservation – is in order. We wonder if the interest shown by Taylor’s University could avert its doom. The Royal English School building fares much better. As the last remaining historic residence in Batu Gajah, it will be restored, and a sympathetic new annex added to make its adaptive re-use a sustainable venture. 

The most ambitious student programme that PHS has ever worked with is the University of Malaya–National University of Singapore (UM–NUS) Joint Studio Project in 2012. The study, after a similar one on Taiping in 2010, resulted in an excellent book which was launched in Ipoh early in 2013. That was celebrated with ‘Celebrating Perak’s Built Heritage’, an exhibition which combined both studies. The book is the first thorough study of Ipoh’s urban fabric in the inner-city area for 50 years.

The book, Encounters with Ipoh: Familiar Spaces Untold Stories is now available through PHS. Returning Taiping, a study by the same UM–NUS programme, is also available. Both titles are sold at RM90 per book. For PHS members, the discount price is RM80. Place your order by emailing perakheritage36@gmail.com and siakhongstudio@gmail.com.

Model and old shophouse by Sam Tan’s students.

PHS @ UTAR Perak Campus

“HUES OF DIVERSITY”
FOR CULTURE AND HERITAGE
PR Campaign Volunteerism 3.0
by UTAR Faculty of Arts and Social Science

VOLUNTEERS WANTED

  • Help us install PHS displays and exhibitions and sell books and handicraft
  • To volunteer or just to watch the show at night, contact Hong by 19 March. Phone 0175061875 or email siakhongstudio@gmail.com

The venue: Heritage Hall. (Source of photo: UTAR web site)

What it’s all about?

At the School of Public Relations, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Kampar, forty-four students flex their brains and muscles.

Their Aim Fundraising for charity – to benefit PHS awareness programme

Objective To encourage volunteer activities

The Concept
E = Educate participants on volunteerism
R = Revive the volunteerism spirit
S = promote Sustainability and volunteerism through campus events

Programme on Hues of Diversity

  1. 21 February
    –  Programme launch
    –  Photography Competition – currently in progress
  2. 12 March
    –  11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Soft launching + campus awareness, Students’
    Pavilion, followed by parade through UTAR campus
    –  6 to 8 p.m.: off-campus parade and ticket push, Kampar New Town
  3. 22 March
    –  3:30 p.m. onwards – Culture & Heritage Exhibition, Heritage Hall
  4. 22 March
    –  7:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Charity Night, Heritage Hall, UTAR
        Programme of recitals, cultural dances and more. Ticket @ RM10

Content of Exhibition

Content of Exhibition

TIME TUNNEL – a students’ installation

UTAR Construction Management project models

Ipoh Craftnerds’ modern handicraft for sale

Dr Sun Yat Sen Ipoh Trail

PHS exhibitions and displays

Books on Perak Heritage for sale

VIPs and event mascot at the soft launch of the campaign.

Icons of culture and heritage as portrayed and crafted by the students.


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

E-mail:
perakheritage36@gmail.com
Website: https://perakheritage.wordpress.com

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