Cuisine in Melaka


14 December 2012 | last updated at 08:07AM
Malacca traffic jam soon to be history

By Jason Gerald |

TRAM OPERATING ON NGV: RM272 million project will begin in February next year
WITH the sounds of Christmas Jingles echoing in malls and popular tourist destinations, such as the Jonker Walk, and the curtains closing slowly but definitely for this year, the traffic in the city is starting to become a nightmare.

Unlike the previous months where traffic and people only flock the Historical City over the weekends, the current school holidays and the rush by almost everyone to strike out their remaining annual leave, the number of people and vehicles coming into Malacca and leaving has almost doubled in December.

Not only are the exits to Malacca via the Simpang Ampat, Ayer Keroh and Jasin exits along the North-South Expressway experiencing a crawl but almost all roads leading to the city centre is seeing a bumper to bumper traffic.

However, this is the small sacrifice that people in Malacca have to pay to ensure the Historical City remains a vibrant tourist destination, as tourism is one of the main income generators for the state coffers and many businesses involved in the hospitality industry.

And the traffic congestion would become part of history when the much awaited Malacca Tram, a RM272 million project undertaken by Mrails International Sdn Bhd in collaboration with Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI), begins in February next year.
The tram, operating on liquefied natural gas (NGV), would be capable of ferrying 120 passengers at any one time at a speed of 40kph and would begin from its depot next to the Ayer Keroh toll plaza and head to the heritage zone of Malacca — covering a distance of 40km and serving 11 of 14 major tourist spots.

Among the popular spots the tram will pass on its route are Hotel Seri Malaysia, Botanical Gardens, Melaka Zoo, Melaka International Trade Centre, Taman Muzaffar Shah, Pantai Hospital, Masjid Al-Azim, Hospital Melaka, Renaissance Hotel, Dataran Pahlawan, Hotel Mahkota, Harbour Club, Equatorial Hotel and Bukit Baru.

With the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) giving the “green light” for implementation of the tram project, although the law on the transport system is yet to be completed, the tram could very soon be seen plying the “tourism” routes in the state.

SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said technical work such as the building of tracks and depots could still proceed and “there is still time to formulate the law” for the tram.

Syed Hamid also recently said SPAD had held discussions with the Attorney-General’s Chambers in drafting the law for tabling in Parliament before gazetting.
SPAD would ask for a detailed report on security and maintenance aspects of the tram system from the project developer to ensure its smooth operation.

When the Malacca Tram starts its operations, in about a year after the project starts in February, it is expected that some 110,000 passengers will use the service on weekdays and 210,000 on weekends.

Mrails is working with CNR Tangshan Railway Vehicles Co Ltd, a Chinese-based locomotive manufacturer, for the building of the coaches.

The tram is a rail borne vehicle, lighter than a train and differs from other forms of locomotion, as the tracks are embedded in the street.

It is able to accommodate 120 passengers at one time, caters to the disabled because of its ground-level design and will operate at speeds of 40kph.

Ticket for the tram ride is priced at RM2 for a single journey but students and senior citizens ride for free. A day pass, priced at RM5 is also available.

When launching the Tram project in February, last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak stressed that despite the nation’s quest for greater modernisation, emphasis must be placed on environmentally-friendly technology to ensure sustainability and low carbon emissions.

He said long-term environmental conservation efforts were important and should not be compromised at the cost of development and that the Malacca Tram project was iconic, not only for the state, but for the nation as well.

This “next generation tram” is the world’s first environmentally-friendly tram that runs on NGV engine. Najib said the project was suitable to be introduced here as it was in line with the state’s slogan “Where It All Began”.

All Malaysia Info

Muzium Gopeng, heritage haven

Life at the turn of the 20th century in Malaya is depicted in Muzium Gopeng, an ancestral home that has been lovingly restored and thrown open to the public.

With a history spanning more than 150 years, Gopeng is older than both Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur. Tin mining and rubber plantations were the two activities that led to its founding, anchored by the British company Osbourne Chappell.

Eu Yan Sang, the Asian leader in traditional Chinese medicine products was founded in Gopeng to offer health care services to the hoards of migrant workers then settling in the town.

Gopeng Museum

The entrance to the Heritage House annexe of the Muzium Gopeng.

Even Dr Sun Yat Sen, revolutionary leader of the anti-communist movement in China visited Gopeng regularly between 1909 and 1911. It was a prosperous community based around rich natural resources.

However, in the 1980s, the decline in tin-mining led to an exodus, resulting in a sort of stasis in terms of development, both cultural and economic.

The opening of the North-South Expressway in 1994 further eroded through-traffic, as commuters began bypassing Gopeng on their journeys up and down the peninsula. This led to Gopeng being left in a type of time capsule.

Muzium Gopeng

View of the kopitiam set up at the rear of the house.

Focal point

On April 18, 2009, the Muzium Gopeng opened in conjunction with World Heritage Day and remains functioning as a focal point for visitors to the town now. Bernard Yaw, a Gopeng native, returned from working overseas and, following his mother’s deathbed request, bought his ancestral home from the Eu family and began renovation works to restore the shophouse to a habitable state.

Following discussions with friends and classmates, it was decided to make the ground floor into the Muzium Gopeng, while leaving the first floor as private accommodation for the Yaw family. Exhibits were donated by the local community and others from the region.

Gopeng Museum

The old stables across the street from Muzium Gopeng is where the prominent Eu Yan Sang family used to keep their horses.

Initial impressions may be of bric-a-brac from your local antiques store, but closer inspection reveals a wonderfully eclectic collection of items such as radios, clocks, posters and photographs, household items that trace the history of Gopeng, the state, and indeed, the nation as a whole.

Furthermore, information on the orang asli of the region is available and presented clearly. Yaw serves as the museum’s current chairman.

On World Heritage Day 2011, the Heritage House was opened after a year of planning and construction.

Gopeng Museum

Old street signs on display along with fishing paraphernalia at the Muzium Gopeng.

Intended as an annexe to the Muzium Gopeng, the Heritage House was restored using traditional construction techniques, especially where masonry and carpentry were concerned. The result is a living snapshot into the past.

On the ground floor, there is a barber shop, kopitiam and a feng shui air well filled with bonsai trees and relics from the near past. Up above, living areas have been decorated and filled with priceless decorations and furnishings that accurately reflect what life would have been like for a middle-class family at the turn of the 20th century in Gopeng, and indeed the surrounding areas.

These projects and their success in Gopeng reflects the potential for furthering heritage preservation efforts in this country.

Muzium Gopeng

Antique clocks are displayed throughout the museum, most prominently right above the main entrance.

It is with the participation and initiative of sympathetic individuals that such realisations are possible. Charity, they say, begins at home, and in this case, someone has opened up his home to the public so that we may share and learn, and keep memories of our collective past alive.

Muzium Gopeng is located at No. 28, Jalan Eu Kong, Gopeng, Perak. Admission is free but a donation would be appreciated. For further details and opening times, call Chew Wan at 017-597 1363 or Phang Sek Hong at 016-542 1287. Follow Muzium Gopeng on Twitter.

Map: Muzium Gopeng

Video: Muzium Gopeng

Gopeng Museum exhibit, Perak

Old mining town honoured

Jalan Gopeng, Kampar, Perak

Bright future for Kampar


Museums in Malaysia

The Grand Kampar Hotel in Bandar Baru Kampar, Perak

Kampar has come far

Leaf bug, Gopeng Rainforest

The enchanted rainforest

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Cuisine in Melaka


Friday March 9, 2012

High-speed rail link holds great prospect

I’M looking forward to the potential high speed rail (HSR) link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore “High speed rail-ity?” (The Star, Mar 5).

As a frequent traveller to Malacca, Johor and Singapore, I would greatly appreciate an additional option to travel down south.

Air travel, with all its perceived luxury, still brings with it delays, long wait times and the inconvenient (though admittedly necessary) security screening.

All these on top of the 40-minute travel time to KLIA/LCCT from Kuala Lumpur or Petaling Jaya.

If it’s true that the high speed rail journey would only take 90 minutes, we could be looking at significant time saving in our travels.

Some, like me, can still remember the days before we had the North-South Expressway.

Narrow roads and slower speeds had a big impact on whether we would travel.

Since the NSE opened, people get to see more of their extended families, businesses have flourished along the highway, commuting has become more common and we have generally seen a significant overall improvement in our lives.

With the NSE becoming congested, it is timely for the Public Land Transport Commission to consider high speed rail as an alternative.

Taiwan HSR is an apt comparison, given the relatively similar population size along the Taipei-Kaohsiung corridor as the KL-Singapore route.

If Taiwan can generate over 30 million passengers annually, and with an operating profit, why can’t we?

In our case, HSR may be even more catalytic than the NSE, given the significant journey time reduction and the convenience it provides.

I can only imagine how extensive the effects can be on the wider economic sectors, namely tourism, retail, construction and property, not to mention the broad-based productivity improvement.

Although I am as equally wary as the next Malaysian of yet another mega project, I also think that the high speed train will be one mega project that the country needs.


Petaling Jaya.