In 1998, Peter Josef Bucher and his wife, Irene, bought a house in Ipoh Garden East so that when they eventually settled down, it would be in Ipoh.
Having lived almost a nomadic lifestyle since entering the hospitality industry some fifty years ago, where the past eleven years were spent in a resort environment when Bucher was manager of popular resorts in Pangkor, Perak and Dungun, Terengganu, they couldn’t imagine living anywhere else besides tranquil Ipoh, Irene’s hometown.
The Buchers are well-known figures among the local community. Fondly addressed as Pak Peter and Ibu Irene, terms of respect given by friends and colleagues during their work stint in Bandung, Indonesia, since moving to Ipoh, they have dived right in and got themselves involved in numerous community activities and supported various causes, particularly in the promotion of arts and culture.
Shared the 68-year-old Bucher, who was born in Lucerne, “When I was working in Switzerland in the 1980s, I met many nationalities of people who were working in the country. They kept among themselves and didn’t want to get involved in the local life apart from their work. I told myself that no matter where I lived, I would integrate myself into the community. In Ipoh, I don’t see myself as a foreigner. I adopted the city as my home the day I started dating Irene back in 1972.”
Got involved the Buchers did since relocating to Ipoh at the end of 2006. An ordinary day would see Bucher attending the many meetings of any of the non-government organisations that he supports, including the Perak Society of Performing Arts, Kinta Heritage Society and YMCA of Ipoh Toastmasters Club, where he is the Immediate Past President.
Currently, Bucher also mentors almost thirty junior Toastmasters where members of the club, I-Innovative Gavel Club Ipoh, are coached to improve their communication and leadership skills.
Despite being kept so busy, Bucher still found time to form “Sharpened Word”, with the motto: Opening up the writer’s world to the world at large.
He said, “This is our new baby. We are filling the need for a platform to promote English language and literature for both established and novice writers. It is not a book club, rather a community event which celebrates writers and their literary work. And by writers, we don’t only mean published authors but also poets, song writers, graphic novelists, playwrights, journalists and bloggers.”
Another pet love for the Buchers is the local food. Although qualified as a “master chef”, Bucher and his wife surprisingly prefer to eat out. Said Bucher, “We are not fussy with food but I rank Bak Kut Teh, Perak’s traditional Rendang Tok and any kind of curry served with roti as my all time favourites.”
A Perakian by choice, Bucher loves Ipoh for its relaxed lifestyle as well as its strategic geographical location and rich heritage. Still the lack of cleanliness irks him. He said, “I wish the city’s tagline Ipoh Bersih, Hijau dan Membangun is a reality and not just a slogan. Let us all be responsible residents of the city and keep Ipoh clean.”
Note: An edited version of this article [Tranquil city wins Bucher’s heart] was published on 26th September, 2015, in the now-defunct The Malay Mail.
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