Friday, December 5, 2008

Heartcry of a Perakian

This is something I posted in another forum some time back. Reading Heartcry of a Sabahan reminded me of this and I thought I would share it with you too.


Perak is one of the largest states in Peninsular, with large swaths of flat land and plenty of human capital. But, as an Ipoh native, I can testify that the BN govt has done NOTHING to develop the potential of the Perak state's human and natural resources.

Ipoh 'city' is actually an aging and crumbling town...there are more buildings than people to occupy them, much less maintain them.

Most of the pre-war buildings in the Old Town are left empty to rot because there is hardly any economic activity (let's not even mention 'growth' - there is none). There have never been any effort to preserve the heritage buildings there.

The state's vast land banks are under-developed. There is very little land being developed for manufacturing or other revenue-generating facilities, despite the abundant supply of cheap land and labour. On the other hand, irresponsible exploitation of natural resources have left the land scarred and ugly. An example would be the beautiful limestone hills on the outskirts of Ipoh city (once the proud hallmarks of the city). These have been cut down to nothing over the years last 20 years. What used to be a pleasant scenery of lush hills has been replaced by visions of dry rocks and flat land.

Some of the satellite towns which were included into the Ipoh boundaries in order to qualify it as a 'city' are actually more like ghost towns - Gopeng for example. The town is nothing more than a cluster of abandoned pre-war shoplots along the trunk road to KL.


Instead of developing the state's industries and implementing business-friendly policies, the BN govt spends lavishly on zero-return projects like extensive city landscaping, road building and upgrading (despite the fact that vehicle numbers are dwindling because most youths are migrating to Penang, KL or overseas), building, rebuilding, extending or upgrading govt buildings, etc.

As the result of the slowly dying economy and general neglect of the state, most people see no opportunity in the city. There is virtually no employment opportunities for graduates in Ipoh and business prospects are bleak.

The brain drain is severe as most of the brightest are sent off to study in KL, Singapore or other places. Those who graduate in from Malaysian universities or colleges will find their skills appreciated by employers in KL or Penang. Many of those who graduate overseas prefer not to come back. I myself have close to 20 friends who are working overseas and give no second thought to returning home. A number of my friends are currently applying to migrate overseas.

Even those with no skills find better opportunities doing blue-collar work in Japan, UK or Canada. This phenomenon is so prevalent in Ipoh that everybody knows somebody who hopped a plane. This has actually become sort of an industry for the state as these people bring in precious revenue to the state. However with tightening immigration around the world, even this is under threat.

Those who are left behind in Ipoh are mostly the elderly or the young people who prefer a sedate lifestyle. But even that demographic is changing as more and more elders leave to join their children in KL or overseas.

And as there is no one to buy their homes, they are simply left to rot...Some of these homes are huge mansions in prestigious addresses like Tiger Lane, home to one of the Sultan's minor palaces.

Every time I make a trip back to Ipoh, the sense of despair and frustration feels a little stronger - the buildings look a little more run down, the people look a little older and gripe a little louder.

That's the Perak under BN.

Let's hope Pakatan can do better.

- Eyes Wide Open

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