Ahmad Faizal dedicating a song to all athletes at the closing ceremony of Sukma, held at the Perak Stadium.

CLEANLINESS has always been an issue in Ipoh as several areas, mostly residential and industrial estates, are always turned into illegal dumpsites.

Since the start of the year, Ipoh City Council has ramped up its efforts to clear the piled-up rubbish.

While such dumpsites are still commonly seen, the city council and state government have undeniably worked hard to improve the situation.

A city council spokesman said a total of 1,672 illegal dumpsites were cleared 43,730 times as of November, and a whopping 3,753,930kg of rubbish was collected.

It held 48 rubbish-clearing operations and 100 gotong-royong.

The effort did not go unnoticed as residents lauded the city council, saying that the increased frequency of cleanups was a good start and hoped that it would be continued.

Meanwhile, the iconic Ipoh tree at Ipoh Railway Station Square, which toppled during a thunderstorm in April last year, was replanted in February.

The original tree that was uprooted was planted by the then Perak mentri besar Datuk Seri Wan Mohammad Wan Teh in 1980.

Apart from the one at the square, the other Ipoh tree is at the D.R. Seenivasagam Park.

International recognitions and accolades kept coming in for Ipoh as the city was hailed as Malaysia’s hippest destination by The New York Times, while its famous white coffee was featured in Lonely Planet’s Global Coffee Tour book.

The New York Times article in March titled “Why Ipoh, Malaysia, Should Be On Your Travel Radar” detailed how the city was staging a comeback to become Malaysia’s hippest destination. The article praised the hipster cafe culture and eclectic boutique hotels in Ipoh.

In May, Lonely Planet listed Ipoh as one of Asia’s top three coffee towns after Chiangmai, Thailand and Tokyo, Japan.

Traditional coffeeshop Sin Yoon Loong received a special mention in the book for serving the authentic white coffee.

This was the second time Ipoh gained recognition from the world’s largest travel guide publisher. The first was in 2016 when Ipoh was listed sixth best Asian destinations to visit.

A 140km-long natural gas distribution system began construction early this year and was said to be a “game changer” for the state.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the RM180mil project connecting Ayer Tawar to the Kinta Valley was conducted by former mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir at Bandar Meru Raya in February.

The project is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter next year.

The cost of the project is borne by the Federal Government with the International Trade and Industry Ministry contributing RM50mil, the state government RM10mil, and Gas Malaysia Bhd RM120mil.

According to Dr Zambry, it will transform the industrial landscape of Kinta district and attract more foreign investment to the state.

The much-awaited Dream Zone attraction at the Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) at Meru Raya was scrapped after Animation Theme Park Sdn Bhd (ATP) discontinued the licence agreement with DreamWorks Animation LLC to open it.

This was because both parties did not reach an agreement to open Dream Zone to the public by Aug 1. Its opening was delayed five times since the theme park started operating in June last year.

State subsidiary Perak Corp Bhd, which owns ATP, put in a filing to Bursa Malaysia on the same day that ATP would write off RM15.74mil following the termination of the licence agreement with DreamWorks.

ATP had the option to extend the licence agreement to Sept 30 but decided against it to accelerate the full opening of MAPS.

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu lauded the move as it would mean that all the attractions, including those in the now defunct zone, would be fully open and operational.

Following news that the man-made trails in Bukit Kledang, Ipoh would be closed off to the public by the Perak Forestry Department, hundreds of hikers voiced their displeasure in losing one of the city’s most popular recreational spots.

A dialogue was held in December, where department director Datuk Mohamed Zin Yusop urged hikers to form a new committee to manage the hill.

On the sports front, the Perak Stadium in Ipoh was reopened in April after a 15-month renovation.

It hosted the first Super League match between the Perak and Kuala Lumpur football team. A no-smoking ruling on the premises also took effect.

It was closed for repairs after complaints about its unsatisfactory pitch condition were made to the Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP).

The stadium was also used for the opening and closing of the 2018 Malaysia Games (Sukma) in September.

Perak finished fifth, picking up 37 gold, 50 silver and 56 bronze medals.

Another highlight was when the state football team, the Bos Gaurus, lifted the Malaysia Cup trophy after a 18-year wait in October. They defeated Terengganu 4-1 in a penalty shoot-out after the drama-laden match that ended 3-3 after extra time.

The victory was soon marred by an incident involving then Perak Football Association (PAFA) president Hasnul Zulkarnain Abd Munaim who posted photographs of him putting the Malaysia Cup trophy between his thighs while lying with only his pants on a recliner near a swimming pool.

The photographs went viral on social media, sparking an uproar among football fans who felt that the action was “inappropriate” and “disrespectful”. He later resigned from his post.

While there were joys, there were also despair as six people, including five teenagers were killed when a shop in Jelapang Maju Industrial Park was razed in December. The incident also sparked a round of debate on child labour.

Source: The Star