Multatuli, a passionate Ipohite, wants a holistic approach to develop Ipoh’s hills and river. He argues the need for engaging people with experience; the exposure and the imagination and NOT another RM2 crony company with a hare-brain scheme to make quick money.
Multatuli: It is not many cities that have natural assets.
We are lucky to have not just one but two obvious natural assets – three if you count the people. Ipoh is the only city which is surrounded by beautiful limestone hills. And the Kinta River runs through the middle of town dividing it into Old Town and New Town.
Our limestone hills offer a dramatic backdrop in many suburbs. The caves in many parts of the hills have been turned into temples some of which are tourist attractions.
The river which runs through the historic Old Town was once the highway which allowed tin from the mines around Ipoh to be taken to the ports and goods like charcoal and provisions as well as building materials to be brought in from outside.
Sadly the powers that be do not recognise what treasures they have on their hand – otherwise they would not abuse them. Instead of developing these assets sensitively they have wasted them and are still wasting them.
Our hills are blasted to smithereens for pittance by cement companies. Look at the number of hills that stick out like rotten teeth around Ipoh. The State Government probably depends too much for its revenue on the hills. So much so that it is happy to pawn our natural heritage which is our duty to keep for those who come after us.
The hills are worth more left intact than blasted. But quarrying is the convenient way to easy money.
Only the rich living in luxury condominiums can view Ipoh’s hills
The other problem the hills face is the visual vandalisation which City Hall has allowed. How do skyscrapers next to the hills fit in with the environment?
First there was the Haven a multi-storey condominium and then somebody else with a similar proposal and the latest is Sunway’s skyscraper right smack against the Tambun Hills.
If this continues our hills will be blotted from view – only those who have the money to live in such luxurious condos can have a view. Our hills is a public asset not the private preserve of the rich.
Ipoh’s super drain
The Kinta River is just a super drain carrying all the waste water from the various parts of Ipoh.
Once upon a time Ipohites could swim; fish and picnic in Fair Park. It can be a public recreational facility again – it’s not impossible.
It does not take much to turn our hills and river into assets which benefit the city and its inhabitants.
Moratorium on development
There should be a moratorium on developments near the hills and high-rise development by the hills must be prohibited. We need a nature reserve of at least half a mile around the hills which can be turned into parkland and a botanical garden which can be a tourist attraction as well as a faciltiy for Ipohites.
As for the Kinta River (especially the section which runs through town) what an asset it is if developed imaginatively.
Failed attempts by successive mayors
Successive mayors have attempted to create a river walk but whatever little success have been short-lived.
The authorities must realise that ad hoc development does not work – instead it makes it worse. Look at the galleries which are now empty and run down. The paths paid for by Ipohites are now overgrown and strewn with rubbish. The People’s Park which was donated to the people of Ipoh by one of the early Chinese towkays is empty. The playground equipment broken and dangerous so that parents will not take their children there.
And I am told that the river walk itself is not safe – snatch thieves and the like frequent the place.
Inept authorities waste public money
A lot of public money has been wasted because of the ineptitude of the authorities.
The Kinta River can be a great tourist draw if developed sensitively and with imagination. Obviously the government is not able to to do (it has made a mess of it) and probably hasn’t got the funds to develop and manage it.
But before it becomes open season for any two-bit developer who thinks he can make a quick buck; the government should look at the half baked attempts of some developers in the past. They produced kitsch which were short term attractions but which have since fallen into disrepair and abandoned.
We need a holistic approach
What is required is a holistic approach to how we develop Ipoh’s hills and river. We need people with the experience; the exposure and the imagination – not just another RM2 crony company with a hare-brain scheme to make quick money.
Ipoh’s friendly faces and fabulous food is not enough to draw tourists. Tourism will provide more long term prosperity than the cement companies who will only leave us with a pile of rubble. And there are better ways to use our river than as a drain.
It’s time we IpohMalis wake up.