Book Launch ~ PALOH: Founded by Hakka, Made Vibrant by the Cantonese
With 2023 being Visit Ipoh Year, the book launch of PALOH: Founded by Hakka, Made Vibrant by the Cantonese on 28th February 2023 (yesterday), was opportune. Ipoh City now boasts another heritage tourism trail: Ipoh Cantonese Heritage Trail (ICHT), in addition to the existing Ipoh Heritage Trail. Malay Trail (named Dato’ Panglima Kinta Trail) and the Indian Trail (proposed Tamil Trail) are currently being developed. 2024 is Visit Perak Year and thereafter, Visit Malaysia Year in 2025.
The book launch by Ipoh City Mayor, represented by Tuan Zulkifli Sidek (Senior Director of the Ipoh City Council) marked a new milestone for former Ipoh City councillor Dr Richard Ng and his co-author, Mr Wong Kian Hing, current Sin Chew Daily Perak Assistant Chief Editor, as the book took 2.5 years to complete.
It was during the COVID-19 pandemic that Mayor Y.Bhg. Dato’ Rumaizi bin Baharin@Md Daud made a call to his councillors to look into the plight of Ipohites, who were faced with economic hardship when businesses were impacted. It was then decided that despite tourism being the hardest hit during the lockdown, tourism was still an industry that could be the best bet to revive the economy, once borders reopen.
It concluded that four new heritage trails would be established: HT1 (Malay Trail), HT2 (Colonial Trail), HT3 (Chinese Trail), and HT4 (Indian Trail).
Dr Richard Ng, a city councillor then, answered the call and took it upon himself to plan HT3, the Ipoh Cantonese Heritage Trail. With the assistance of Mr Wong Kian Hing and a steering committee comprising three Perak Cantonese Associations: Nam Hoi, Pun Yue and Shun Tak, the heritage trail began to take shape. Besides boosting Ipoh tourism with a unique product, this non-profit initiative was also to preserve Cantonese heritage culture for future generations to come.
After two years of painstaking research, through ground assessment, numerous face-to-face interviews, multiple meetings with Chinese Associations, the Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCCI) as well as the Perak Chinese Assembly Hall (PCAH), plus reading through voluminous texts in the form of literature and newspaper articles, by the end of it, 32 locations were included in the trail; 19 in Ipoh Old Town and 13 in Ipoh New Town.
For the benefit of readers who are unfamiliar with Ipoh, these two sections of the city are separated by Kinta River. This Ipoh Cantonese Heritage Trail along a walkable route has been certified accurate by historian, Associate Prof. Dr Wong Wun Bin, UTAR Centre Chairperson, Institute of Chinese Studies.
19 points in Ipoh Old Town:
1. Paloh Ku Miu
2. SJK Chung Shan
3. Old Ipoh Market / Kinta Heights
4. Eu Tong Sen Building
5. Yau Tet Shin Mansion (currently Jabatan Kesihatan Negeri)
6. Kaying Association Building
7. Kapitan Chung Thye Phin Building (currently Arlene House)
8. PCCCI Building
9. Perak Hang Kang Kong Hoey Building
10. Dr Wu Lien Teh’s Clinic
11. Sun Cinema
12. Ku Kong Chow Association Building
13. Kong Heng Coffee Shop
14. Guest House Lane (Jalan Tun Sambanthan)
15. Perak Mining Association Building
16, Ho Yan Hor Musem
17. Han Chin Pet Soo
18. Concubine Lane
19. People’s Park
13 points in Ipoh New Town:
20. Perak Shun Tak Association
21. Hume Street
22. Lam Looking Building
23. Foong Seong Building (currently Sam Choy School)
24. Yau Tet Shin Street
25. Gerbang Malam
26. Perak Chinese Amateur Dramatic Association
27. Perak Pun Yue Association
29. Perak Nam Hoi Association
30. Leong Sin Nam Street (Dim Sum Street)
31. Majie House (Musem)
32. Ruby Cinema
All of these points of interest are included in the 166-page book, which is focused on the Second Wave of migration of the Chinese from China to Malaya during the early 19th century to the 1950s. This migration, mainly from Guangdong Province was enticed by the discovery of tin ore in Larut District. Subsequently, more deposits were found in Kinta District.
Initially, Hakka people from China were brought in by the British to mine for tin ore, as they were known for their mining expertise. Travelling through waterways, after a 30-day journey, they arrived in Penang, then to Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan). From there, they sailed along Perak River, branching off to Kinta River and arrived at Gopeng to begin work. It was here that large tin deposits were discovered.
By 1880, more tin was found in Kinta Valley, transforming the village of Kampung Paloh into Paloh Town (now known as Ipoh). To cater to the necessities of these mine workers who later became prominent tin towkays (among them Leong Fee, Yau Tet Shin, Leong Sin Nam and Foo Choo Choon), Cantonese businesses began mushrooming in town. Eu Tong Seng, Foong Seong, Ho Kai Cheong and Dr Wu Lien Teh are just a few names that come to mind.
The vibrant economy propelled Ipoh as Perak’s capital city in 1937, taking over from Taiping (1876 to 1937). Known as the “City of Millionaires” based on the record number of Mercedes Benz cars sold, Ipoh was the first Malayan town to register a motor vehicle. A traffic light system and multi-storey car park were first available in Ipoh, too.
According to statistics, Ipoh City comprises almost 60% of Cantonese, 30% Hakka, and less than 10% Hokkien, among all people of Chinese descent. The aforementioned Ipoh Cantonese Heritage Trail can potentially attract 70 million Cantonese speakers from Guangzhou in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. Following the launch of this English-language book, a Mandarin version is in the pipeline to target this market. This project is in line with the city’s vision to be promoted as a 3H tourism city for Heritage, Health and Hipsters.
CNN Travel published the article, 18 of Asia’s most underrated places (updated in January 2023), with Ipoh included. In 2006, Ipoh was named one of the best destinations in Asia by Lonely Planet, the world’s largest travel guidebook publisher. For general information, it is now easier to visit Ipoh from Singapore, as Scoot low-cost airline has made available direct flights three times a day.
The by-invitation-only book launch event at The Haven All Suite Resort was graced by Orang Besar Jajahan (OBJ) Manjung YDH Toh Seri Bijaya Lt. Kol (B) Dato’ Shaharudin bin Haji Nazari. Representatives from Chinese associations and commerce organisations, prominent business leaders, along with owners of the 32 heritage trail points of interest were in attendance.
Video: Book Launch ~ PALOH: Founded by Hakka, Made Vibrant by the Cantonese
Those who are interested to purchase a copy or two of PALOH: Founded by Hakka, Made Vibrant by the Cantonese may contact:
Mr Wong at 012-538 0810
Mr Jansen Ng at 012-500 4725
Ms Wong at 012-900 3346
Event: Book Launch: Paloh: Founded by Hakka, Made Vibrant by the Cantonese
Venue: The Haven All Suite Resort, Ipoh
Date: 28th Feb, 2023
Time: 12 noon
2 thoughts on “Book Launch ~ PALOH: Founded by Hakka, Made Vibrant by the Cantonese”
Hello from Australia. Looks like an interesting read. I can have a copy sent down under.
Thanks for messaging us, Leon. We have forwarded your request to the author.